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Panel Report

Appendix N - Implications of a Facility Based on the AECL Concept

It should also examine the social, economic and environmental implications of a possible nuclear fuel waste management facility. . . . in addition to examining, in general terms, the costs and benefits to potential host communities.

In addition, the impact of transportation of nuclear fuel wastes to a generic site will also be examined.

Terms of Reference

The Panel examined the various implications of a facility and its associated transportation based on Atomic Energy of Canada Limited's (AECL's) disposal concept. Some of these implications could very well apply to other options for managing nuclear fuel wastes. A few implications of other options are outlined in Appendix L, but the Panel received insufficient information to examine them fully.

The Panel considered five categories of implications of the AECL concept. Accordingly, this appendix is divided into sections covering human health, environmental, economic, social and transportation implications, although the Panel recognizes that the content of these sections is greatly interrelated. Discussion of the costs and benefits to potential host communities is integrated throughout. While human health and transportation implications were well developed in the EIS and supporting documents, the other subjects were not. Therefore, most review participants did not discuss them in any detail.

Human Health Implications

The Panel accepts the World Health Organization's definition of health as "a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity." This is an all-embracing definition that requires a very broad review of all the possible implications of developing a high-level waste facility, for both the individuals and the communities concerned.

Like any major industrial project, a nuclear fuel waste facility or other long-term management facility may significantly affect the health of project workers and of members of the public living near the site or along affected transportation routes. These health effects may be positive or negative. To justify the project, there ought to be a net benefit to public health. The Panel draws attention to a draft Health Canada report on procedures for assessing the human health effects of any industrial development. [Health Canada, A Canadian Health Impact Assessment Guide, Volume 1: The Beginner's Guide, Draft 1 (January 1997), pp. 38-40.]

The possible health effects associated with the proposed facility are not limited to those resulting from exposure to radiation, nor to those experienced by individuals working at, or living near, the selected waste site. Equally, they may not be limited to the period during which the facility is built, filled and sealed, but may arise many centuries in the future. Health is a matter of the physical, mental and emotional well-being of an individual, and the effects of a facility on the mental and emotional health of many individuals may be greater than the effects on their physical health.

Both physically and mentally, there will be wide variations between different individuals who might be affected. Participants in the hearings frequently emphasized that possible health effects cannot be adequately determined by making certain calculations based on some generalized "reference person." Instead, we repeatedly heard that separate consideration needs to be given to different groups, such as men, women, adolescents, children and the unborn foetus; to groups of different ethnic origin, including Aboriginal people; and to groups with different types of physical or mental characteristics.

The International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) recommendations for limiting radiation exposures were developed to provide all-encompassing protection, so there would be no need to consider each group separately. Further information on the ICRP can be found in Appendix H. However, it was made clear during the hearings that many individuals are not prepared to consider themselves as part of one all-embracing group, and would therefore expect detailed consideration of possible health implications to be given to some smaller group with which they could associate more closely. This issue, which greatly complicates any discussion of the health effects of a waste facility, is discussed in more detail later.

There would be five different stages to the life of a nuclear fuel waste facility. The most probable health effects of each stage would differ. Many participants in the public hearings were particularly concerned about possible radiation-related health effects. Table N-1 summarizes the important issues for each stage. It distinguishes between non-radiological and radiological health effects, as well as between on-site health effects that will predominantly affect employees of the facility and off-site health effects that may affect both employees and members of the public. For the purpose of this table, site-related effects include both those arising at the disposal facility and those arising at the site where the wastes are currently being stored. They also include illnesses, injuries and fatalities.

Table N-1: Potential Health Effects
Phase Non-radiological Effects Radiological Effects
On Site Off Site On Site Off Site

Site characterization will be in progress. No major activities will take place at existing storage sites.

There will be very few health effects.

Activities will be primarily office-based ones associated with field research and evaluation studies. They will involve some transport hazards.

Some stress-related symptoms are probable in areas under consideration for a facility. Otherwise, few health effects are expected.

Some research personnel may have limited exposures to radiation. Drilling equipment will be transported using radioactive logging devices. Although transport accidents to vehicles carrying radioactive sources may arise, no health effects are likely.

Vault mining and building construction will be the predominant activities.

Potential lost time due to industrial accidents is significant.

Extensive transport of materials and supplies will take place throughout this phase.

There will be transportation accidents.

Some industrial radiography personnel will probably have small-scale exposures. Transportation of gamma sources for industrial radiography may lead to some public concerns.

Transportation of used fuel to the site, loading and sealing of containers, emplacement underground and backfilling of the vault will be ongoing. Mining of new disposal vault areas will continue.

Over the lifetime of the project, these activities are expected to lead to significant lost time due to accidents and some fatalities.

Continued transportation of non-radioactive materials will take place.

Transportation of used fuel from storage sites will also occur.

Transport accidents will occur. Dust releases from the site and modification of lifestyles after site development may affect the health of members of the community.

Handling of fuel during loading and unloading will lead to occupational exposures. Small exposures of transport workers will also occur. Workers placing used fuel bundles in containers and emplacing these containers underground will also be exposed. Regulatory application of the ALARA principle should keep all doses well below AECB occupational exposure limits.

Very small exposures of some members of the public will occur during transport procedures.

Off-site releases of small quantities of radioactive gases or dust from the facility site may also occur. Any resulting public exposures will have to meet AECB regulatory requirements, and are not likely to lead to significant health effects.


This phase will mainly involve mining-related activities carried out on site, together with the decontamination and dismantling of all surface structures.

These activities can be expected to lead to lost time accidents.

Transportation of supplies will continue, but on a much reduced scale. Health effects among the off-site community and transportation accidents are both likely to continue, but their frequency should gradually drop. Some underground on-site exposures will continue, at reduced levels. Workers may be exposed to radiation while dismantling contaminated above-ground facilities. Regulatory application of the ALARA principle should keep all doses well below AECB occupational exposure limits. No further transportation of radioactive fuel will take place. Dismantling and possible transport of contaminated above-ground facilities will lead to off-site release of small quantities of radioactive dust or gases. Health effects among the off-site community and transportation accidents are both likely to continue, but their frequency should gradually drop.
Postclosure The only continuing non-radiological health effects will result from concerns about possible radioactive pollution leading to stress on people living or working on site or in the vicinity. No exposures will occur until containers fail. When this happens, radioactivity could be released to ground-water, which could lead to doses predicted to be within AECB regulatory criteria for individuals living in the immediate vicinity of the facility.

To assess the overall health impact of a facility on workers and other residents in the host community, site-specific data are needed. This impact should be calculated and compared to the overall health impact of the waste storage sites that would be used if the facility was not built. These calculations are not practicable in the case of a generic site, such as the one that the Panel is currently considering.

However, by assuming 10 million bundles of used fuel will be placed in a facility at a remote northern Ontario site, and that all transport will be by truck, it is possible to use data provided by Ontario Hydro to estimate a ceiling or "highest volume projection" value for the number of injuries and deaths likely to be associated with both transportation and the operation of the facility. Similarly, by using ICRP risk estimates for exposures to ionizing radiation, the maximum potential number of fatal and non-fatal cancers that workers and the general public might develop can also be estimated. Such estimates are given in tables N-2 and N-3.

Based on this data, the normal industrial risks associated with transportation, construction and mining activities would greatly exceed those associated with the likely radiation exposures of workers or the general public. By rearranging the data in tables N-2 and N-3, it is also possible to compare the risks associated with activities taking place on site and those taking place off site. It can then be shown that the total number of deaths to be expected from on-site activities is very similar to the number likely to arise from transport operations, but that the number of injuries is estimated to be about 60 per cent greater on site.

The Adequacy of Current Radiation Protection Standards

During the public hearings, many people told the Panel that they were concerned about the adequacy of current radiation protection standards. Some participants felt that these standards were unduly stringent. However, others thought the reverse was true, and that the Panel should recognize that future standards might be much more stringent. Panel members therefore realized they had to review carefully the basis for the standards currently recommended by the ICRP, and enforced in Canada as Atomic Energy Control Board (AECB) regulations. A summary of the data used to conduct this review can be found in Appendix H.

Setting acceptable radiation exposure levels for either workers or the general public is a two-part process. With sufficient data, scientists can evaluate the risks associated with a given exposure, and provide a definite numerical answer. However, they cannot be expected to define a risk level that workers and the general public will accept. The ICRP makes some recommendations in this area, which are the basis of the current dose limits enforced by the AECB. They are based on risk levels generally regarded as acceptable for other types of industrial activity and do not have the same scientific basis as ICRP calculations of the risk associated with a given radiation exposure.

After studying this data carefully, the Panel accepts that, at this time, the ICRP estimate for the numerical risk per unit of radiation dose received is an adequate basis for limits designed to protect the public from radiation.

Comparing Expected Health Effects with Those for Other Types of Activities

The overall health effects associated with the proposed facility should not be more severe than those normally expected from comparable operations that follow the best currently available industrial practices. Data that Ontario Hydro presented to the Panel showed that the lost time accident rate achieved in all types of Ontario Hydro facilities, as well as during construction work carried out for the corporation, is significantly below average rates for industrial accidents. Similar data were presented for the AECL underground research laboratories. [Ontario Hydro, Response to Undertaking No. 60, Part C (Toronto: October 7, 1996), pp. 1-4.] The Panel believes that the effects predicted in tables N-2 and N-3 are not unusual for such a large and extended operation.

Direct industrial accidents are only part of the non-radiological health impact of such a development. For example, although no site has been identified, the geological requirements for any facility mean that it is likely to be remote from major industrial centres or developments. This fact has several consequences. The environment should be relatively clean and pollution-free compared with the environments in which most of the industrial workers would have lived if they had continued with their former work. This may also be true for any miners working on site. It follows that most workers employed at such a facility for a large part of their working lives should experience small positive health benefits. However, these potential positive health benefits may be more than offset by social and community stresses arising from construction of such a large project.

One of the most difficult effects to estimate is the possible significance of postclosure radiation exposures resulting from residual radioactivity entering groundwater after the fuel bundle containers have lost their integrity. In the case of a generic site and a generic container design, no

Table N-2: Breakdown of Estimated Injuries and Fatalities due to Non-radiological Accidents Associated witha Northern Region Reference Facility and Truck Transport Onlya
Preclosure Phase Health Effects to Workers Percentage of Total Health Effects to Public
(Off-site Traffic Accidents)
Percentage of Total


(7 years)

77 injuries

0.4 fatalities



4 injuriesb

0.08 fatalitiesb



Used Fuel Transport

(41 years)

996 injuriesc

2.1 fatalitiesc

(mostly off site)



102 injuriesd

1.9 fatalitiesd




(41 years, excluding used fuel transport)

2433 injuries

10.3 fatalities



496 injuriese

8.8 fatalitiese




(16 years)

81 injuries

0.5 fatalities



4 injuries

0.08 fatalities




(64 years)

3587 injuries

13.3 fatalities



606 injuries

10.9 fatalities



a After Response to Undertaking No. 93 by Ontario Hydro. Refer to associated notes and assumptions. Assumes linear scaling is valid.

b Values from Response to Undertaking No. 93 have been scaled up by a factor of 100/50 = 2 in order to extend the transport of raw materials to an assumed average distance of 100 kilometres instead of only within 50 kilometres of the Used Fuel Disposal Centre (UFDC).

c Values from R-Preclosure Table 7-19 (based on used fuel transportation from Ontario Hydro reactors at the rate of 180,000 bundles/year) were scaled up by a factor of 250,000/180,000 = 1.39 to take into account used fuel from all Canadian sources, consistent with the UFDC reference capacity of 250,000 bundles/year.

d Values from Response to Undertaking No. 93 have been scaled up by a factor of 1900/50 = 38 to extend the transportation component to cover the entire 1900-kilometre Northern Region reference route instead of only the area within 50 kilometres of the UFDC.

e Values from Response to Undertaking No. 93 have been scaled up by a factor of 1700/50 = 34 to extend the transport of raw materials to an assumed average distance of 1700 kilometres instead of only a distance of 50 kilometres or less of the UFDC.

Table N-3: Breakdown of Estimated Health Effects due to Normal Operational Radiation Exposure Associated with a Northern Region Reference Facility and Truck Transport Onlya
Preclosure Phase Estimated Serious Health Effects and Fatal Cancers in Workers Estimated Serious Health Effects and Fatal Cancers in Public (Off-site Exposures)

Used Fuel Transport

(41 years)

0.46 non-fatal

1.15 fatal

0.10 non-fatal

0.23 fatal


(41 years, excluding used fuel transport)

1.18 non-fatal

2.96 fatal

0.00023 non-fatal

0.00049 fatal


(16 years)

0.21 non-fatal

0.52 fatal




(57 years)

1.85 non-fatal

4.63 fatal

~0.10 non-fatal

~0.23 fatal

a Calculated from total collective dose values in Table 1 of Response to Undertaking No. 60a by Ontario Hydro. Refer to associated notes. Assumes ICRP 1991 risk coefficients of 0.04 and 0.05 fatal cancers and 0.016 and 0.023 serious health effects per sievert for workers and the public respectively (R-Preclosure, p. E-3 and p. E-6).

definitive calculation of this is possible. The Panel recognizes, however, that no facility would obtain an operating licence until the AECB is satisfied that the facility meets its regulatory criteria. These criteria are intended to set an upper limit on the risk to any individual, now or in the future. Elsewhere in this report, the Panel comments on these AECB regulatory criteria.

Social and Psychological Health

It is clear that many individuals show a severe fear of radiation effects, referred to elsewhere in this report as the "dread factor," and that this has sometimes led to psychological stress. Such extreme concerns about radiation risks may not be limited to people living in the community in which the facility is to be located, but may also arise among those living along the expected transport corridor. These concerns will, in turn, lead to high levels of stress among some of the individuals and communities affected.

Non-radiological stress-related health concerns will also arise. As the operational life of the facility draws to an end, employees and their families may be subject to the stress of knowing that a major change in their lifestyle is not far away. Such concerns are well known in mining towns and frequently extend to many residents associated with supporting activities, such as transport services, schools and shops.

Moreover, the social cohesion of a given community may show signs of strain because of the magnitude of the development. This adds to the stress on individuals, and may manifest itself in behaviour detrimental to a healthy community. An active psychological monitoring and counselling program may be necessary to address these problems.

Health Implications for Special Groups

While Health Canada presented no specific data on potential effects of a disposal facility on the health of Aboriginal people, they emphasized that the health of Aboriginal communities near a facility would need special consideration. [Health Canada, Health Canada Submission to the Public Hearings of the Environmental Assessment Panel for the Nuclear Fuel Waste Management and Disposal Concept (June 11, 1996, PH2Gov.011).] Many Aboriginal speakers felt a development that would disrupt a community's social and cultural fabric would have a devastating impact on their lifestyles.

Other groups within the host community may warrant special consideration. These include the unborn and very young, as well as individuals with special handicaps, such as respiratory problems. Particular attention will need to be given to the unique needs of all such groups during any siting process.

Major Accident Scenarios

The potential health impacts of possible major accidents, which might or might not be associated with releases of radiation, also require consideration. These were discussed in AECL's EIS and primary reference documents. These documents presented much evidence to suggest that any additional effects would be minimal. Nevertheless, as recognized in Chapter 5, it is difficult to achieve agreement on what constitutes a worst-case accident scenario. Clearly, some of the most acute implications for human health arise from accident scenarios, so it is important to get such agreement.

Environmental Implications

The proposed activities associated with a high-level nuclear waste disposal site and their effects on the natural environment are expected to be comparable to those of existing major mining projects. Thus, if proper regulations are applied and good engineering and management practices are followed, adverse environmental effects are not expected to be of such a magnitude that they cannot be effectively mitigated. The Panel concurs with the Scientific Review Group's (SRG's) judgment that a disposal facility based on the AECL concept will have the greatest environmental impact during the preclosure phase, [Scientific Review Group, Report of the Scientific Review Group (1995), p. 3.] and also with Ontario Hydro's assessment that the construction stage of preclosure would be the most disruptive. [L. Grondin et al, R-Preclosure, p. viii.] We would like to draw attention to some of the non-radiological effects that would originate primarily during the construction phase and require appropriate mitigation.

The reference disposal facility would require a block of land roughly 16 square kilometres in area, most of which would remain undeveloped, and a linear strip of land for road or rail access up to 25 kilometres long. [L. Grondin et al, R-Preclosure, p. 5-8.] An undetermined area would also be needed to construct an electrical transmission line, and possibly a construction camp or even a new town for workers and their families.

The transportation routes used to bring in materials and supplies would also be affected, both during and after construction. Some routes would be quite long and some portions of routes, particularly those closest to the facility, would be heavily frequented. If only trucks were used, the estimated daily average number of one-way trips (in full or out empty) would be 31 during construction and 60 during operation. [L. Grondin et al, R-Preclosure, p. 5-21 and p. 6-108.] For comparison, nuclear fuel waste transport would entail about 11 daily one-way trips by truck. [Calculated from data in the Environmental Impact Statement, p. 222 and p. 224: 1302 round trips by truck per year divided by 230 transport days per year = 5.7 round trips per day, and 5.7 round trips per day ~ 11 one-way trips per day.] Assuming a 10-hour work day, these figures represent a truck passing every 10 to 20 minutes. They also lie, plus or minus 40 per cent, within the average traffic counts given by Ontario Hydro related to opening a new mine or lumber mill in an isolated area, and are less than 2 per cent of the daily traffic of all types on the northern Ontario region reference route. [Calculated using traffic data in L. Grondin et al, R-Preclosure, p. 7-63 and p. 3-20.]

Like any major project carried out in a natural environment, the construction of surface facilities and access corridors could destroy or alter terrestrial and wetland habitat, change surface water flow, cause silting of streams or destroy fish spawning grounds. Habitat loss and alteration, along with vehicle and construction noise and emissions, could affect the abundance and composition of vegetation and wildlife. New access corridors could lead to increased hunting and fishing, with a corresponding reduction of targeted populations. While acknowledging that some effects would be unavoidable, Ontario Hydro suggests ways to eliminate or mitigate others. For instance, certain effects could be reduced through careful planning of construction activities to protect wetlands and fish habitat, or to reduce noise during sensitive periods for wildlife, such as migration and breeding periods.

During the site evaluation and operational stages, underground shafts, tunnels and disposal rooms will be excavated. Some 12.6 million tonnes of excavated rock will either be placed in a rock disposal area or used elsewhere for construction. [G.R. Simmons and P. Baumgartner, The disposal of Canada's nuclear fuel waste: Engineering for a disposal facility (R-Facility) (Atomic Energy of Canada Limited Report AECL - 10715, COG - 93 - 5, 1995), p. 162.] This is comparable to the amount of waste rock that would be left on the surface at a small open pit mine.

Regardless of the quantities, waste rock could generate surface water runoff containing acid, toxic elements, salts, explosives residue or suspended sediment. Groundwater pumped from the excavation could have similar components. If this water was discharged directly to the natural environment, it could contaminate surface water or groundwater, alter aquatic habitat and affect aquatic organisms. Given the intended host rock characteristics and experience at the Underground Research Laboratory, AECL does not anticipate major problems with the acidity or composition of these waters. [Atomic Energy of Canada Limited, Environmental Impact Statement, p. 236, and L. Grondin et al, R-Preclosure, pp. 5 - 22-5-24 and pp. 6-92-6-97.] However, AECL says that water from the rock disposal area and from underground would be pumped to holding ponds to reduce its solids content. Before re-using or discharging the water to the environment, chemical contaminant levels would be monitored to ensure they did not exceed applicable regulations and standards. Although a water treatment facility was not included in the conceptual design, AECL notes that one would be built if necessary. [G.R. Simmons and P. Baumgartner, R-Facility, p. 161.]

The potential contamination of waterways and alteration of wildlife migration patterns could have implications for Aboriginal people and northerners who depend upon them for survival. These implications are further described later in this appendix.

The release of radionuclides to the natural environment during the preclosure or postclosure phases of the project was also considered. Before receiving approval to develop a facility, the proponent would have to meet all AECB and other regulatory requirements. Otherwise, it would not be licensed. However, the SRG concluded that the postclosure performance assessment based on the reference case study could not reliably assess the release of radionuclides to the natural environment. This is due in part to inadequate modelling of the biosphere as defined by AECL, and specifically to the omission from the modelling of the potential effects of the microbiological processes taking place within the vault and geosphere. [Scientific Review Group, Report of the Scientific Review Group (1995), p. 154 and p. 12.] Microbiota and microbiological processes are active within the entire rock mass, so they should be considered an essential component of the active transfer routes within the near-surface and surface biosphere.

All chemical elements within the geosphere, including the essential elements of protoplasm, tend to circulate through the biosphere within defined paths from environment to organism and back to the environment. The movement of these elements, and of the inorganic compounds needed to maintain life, is integrated within the natural nutrient cycling process essential to the survival of all living organisms. Such chemical elements are never homogeneously distributed in nature, nor are they present in the same chemical form throughout the biosphere. Radionuclides within this process do not move in a linear manner to the surface, as they are also subjected to a similar variety of pathways and complicated flow-through networks. To assess and describe the pathways radionuclides follow through the biosphere, models have to account for their constant and continuous movement within the complex geochemical cycling process. In the future, the AECB will require the proponent of a nuclear facility to show that it will protect the environment from the release of radionuclides.

Economic Implications

The potential economic implications related to existing activities, to facilities and services, to property values, and to the financial resources and the supply of materials required to implement a facility are all important.

The community or regional economic effects of a disposal facility for nuclear fuel wastes depend on the size and nature of the economy already present, and the views of residents. From one viewpoint, a facility would offer local employment and business opportunities over a relatively long term. A facility based on AECL's reference case study would require, on average, about 1,000 employees during 48 years of construction and operation, and fewer at other times, for a total of 62,000 person-years over its lifetime. This is two to three times the direct employment forecast for major mining proposals such as the recently approved diamond mine in the Northwest Territories and the Voisey's Bay development under review in Labrador. However, the disposal facility's average annual employment is only about one fifth of that of the Bruce Nuclear Power Development. [L. Grondin et al, R-Preclosure, p. 6-159.] Increased employment and spending could stimulate and diversify the local wage economy. Many studies show that increased economic well-being is generally a good indicator of increased health and certain other aspects of social well-being.

Viewed from a different perspective, a disposal facility could overwhelm or displace the existing economies of small communities. [L. Grondin et al, R-Preclosure, p. 6-157.] Due to real or perceived environmental contamination and risks to human health, it could disrupt economies based on tourism, outdoor recreation, agriculture or subsistence food gathering, fishing, hunting or trapping by Aboriginal people and northerners. It could also preclude future economic opportunities of these or other types. Such disruptions and other effects would be more pronounced in the event of an accident involving nuclear fuel wastes, either at the facility or in transport. Increased access to a region by means of improved or extended transportation routes could positively or negatively affect rural or Aboriginal livelihoods.

A disposal facility and its workforce could significantly increase demands on community and regional infrastructure, facilities and services, including transportation routes, utilities, schools, health services and recreational facilities.

For example, in the early 1970s, after the commencement of the Bruce Nuclear Power Development, the large inmoving [sic] workforce and the workers' families placed a tremendous strain on the infrastructure of the small rural communities in the vicinity of the construction project. The additional project-related construction activities further affected local roads and services. Both local and regional adverse impacts resulted. These events led Ontario Hydro to commence community impact payments to these communities in 1975.

R-Preclosure [L. Grondin et al, R-Preclosure, p. 6-132.]

Besides compensatory payments to the community, other methods to prevent or offset such impacts include housing non-local workers and their families in a new town; fly-in commuting; providing new housing and services within the existing community; and restoring or building upgrades and bypasses to transportation routes.

A potential decrease in property values would also be a serious concern for residents of the host community and along transportation routes. Property values may increase or decrease, depending on details such as proximity to the facility or its transportation routes, altered accessibility and housing demand. The proponent could address such concerns by negotiating a property value protection plan with affected communities.

The availability of financial resources for construction capital and operating expenses was a major concern for many during the hearings. They were concerned about three major issues: whether nuclear utilities were collect-ing sufficient funds through disposal fee levies; whether the funds were invested prudently and available when required; and whether provincial regulators had given this matter sufficient attention.

The way disposal fee levies are set lacks transparency and could be influenced by factors unrelated to ensuring the adequacy and availability of funds. Calculations by participants at the hearings indicate that some doubt exists about the adequacy of the disposal fees that the utilities are now collecting to cover the cost of disposal, raising the spectre that the general taxpayer may have to bear at least part of the cost. The cost of managing nuclear fuel waste disposal will depend on which option is selected for implementation. Considering the total multi-billion-dollar cost of the disposal concept, the cost effectiveness of the concept will strongly influence the overall economic impact of the project.

The availability of the non-renewable resources required to construct and operate a disposal facility was also a focus of attention during the review. At issue was whether there was an adequate supply of these materials, and whether the needed amounts would represent a disproportionate consumption of resources in local, regional, national or international terms. The EIS states that "it is expected that there would be sufficient reserves and production of all these materials in Canada or other countries that traditionally supply these materials." [Atomic Energy of Canada Limited, Environmental Impact Statement, p. 229.] Nonetheless, participants were particularly concerned about the availability of copper or titanium for disposal containers, and bentonite clay for backfill, buffer and other vault-sealing materials.

Although fabricating enough copper containers to meet the reference facility schedule would require only one per cent of recent annual Canadian refined copper production, [Atomic Energy of Canada Limited, Environmental Impact Statement, p. 132.] the world supply of copper may be limited beyond the year 2015. [L. Grondin et al, R-Preclosure, p. 5-19.] Furthermore, the capability to fabricate thick-walled copper containers does not currently exist in Canada and would have to be developed.

Fabricating sufficient titanium containers would consume a small fraction of Canada's current annual output of titanium ore. [L. Grondin et al, R-Preclosure, p. 6-103] However, as long as Canada lacks titanium metal production facilities, the equivalent of about 2.25 per cent of the 1988 production in the U.S. would have to be imported. [Atomic Energy of Canada Limited, Environmental Impact Statement, p. 132.]

As for bentonite clay, the reference facility would call for about 80 per cent of the currently known Canadian reserves and almost the full annual capability of the only production site in Canada; alternatively, it would consume about 18 per cent of annual Canadian imports. [L. Grondin et al, R-Preclosure, pp. 6-104-6-105.] A 10-million-bundle facility based on in-room emplacement would require about double these amounts. [Kurt Johansen, in Nuclear Fuel Waste Environmental Assessment Panel Public Hearing Transcripts, November 20, 1996, p. 14.]

Social Implications

The type and magnitude of social effects cannot be determined before the social setting is known, but would depend on several factors, including the following: the types of potential host and affected communities; the values, needs and desires of these communities and their ability to manage effects; and the relationships among individuals, communities and their natural environment.

At the outset of the siting stage, even a voluntary site selection process embodying the principles of shared decision-making, openness and fairness could initiate widespread concern among those living in the siting areas. Residents may become deeply divided as supporters or opponents of the proposal. While some will be preoccupied with potential health and safety risks, others will focus on potential job and other economic opportunities. Consequently, a variety of political repercussions arising from conflicting values, opinions and interests could affect a community, leading to either increased cohesion or conflict. Once a site was selected, these effects would likely continue within the host and affected communities. Depending on the chosen transportation routes, a large number of communities may be affected.

During construction and operation, many of the socio-economic effects will hinge on the size, demography, place of residence and other characteristics of the workforce and their families, and how well the host community can supply workers and assimilate non-local workers and their families. For example, the influx of a large, highly skilled, younger workforce into a small or remote community could have significant implications for that community's housing and property values; infrastructure and services; recreation facilities; perceptions of security and safety; social structure; and demographic profile. In addition, either cohesion or conflict would develop between the new and "original" residents of the host community. A collective stress could result from either a rapid population increase or, at the decommissioning stage, a rapid decrease, and the social and cultural changes that accompany boom and bust developments. Furthermore, a non-Aboriginal population introduced into traditional Aboriginal territory may conflict with Aboriginal values, culture and language, and traditional ways of life. Special measures reflecting the wishes of the community would be needed to avoid or minimize such effects.

Experience in similar projects shows that any forced relocation of residents to acquire property for a facility would be one of the most significant socio-economic effects. [L. Grondin et al, R-Preclosure, p. 6-140.] This could cause physical and psychological strain, and the disruption or loss of family and social networks. People who voluntarily move into or out of a community as a result of the facility may experience similar effects.

Residents may also perceive that a large portion of their physical environment is being modified and dedicated to high-risk activities. This could alter community land use patterns and traditional, recreational or economic activities that depend upon them. Some of these effects may be avoided by working with the community to identify valued ecosystem components, and excluding them from the site selection area.

Throughout its operation and decommissioning stages, the disposal facility would handle many shipments of radioactive waste materials. Although Ontario Hydro concluded that radiation health risks to the public and workers would be very small, during both normal and accident conditions, the possibility of a harmful exposure could create significant anxiety within the host and affected communities. This stress would be one of the most severe social implications for community residents and facility workers. To reduce fears of harmful radiation exposure and loss of control over safety, facility owners and affected communities should jointly monitor community effects and plan for emergencies.

Ontario Hydro maintained that most potential social and cultural effects could be eliminated or mitigated through an impact management agreement jointly developed and managed with the host community. A number of possible measures and processes are suggested elsewhere in this appendix, in section 6.3.1 and in Appendix O.

Transportation Implications

The potential effects of nuclear fuel waste transportation depend on many factors that remain to be determined, including the location of the facility, the distance from reactor sites, and shipping modes and routes. Except for the highly radioactive nature of the cargo and its implications, effects would be similar to those of transporting materials and supplies to build and operate the facility. The transportation of spent nuclear fuel would differ in few respects from the transportation of hazardous or other radioactive substances, which occurs frequently. For example, more than eight million road shipments of dangerous goods take place each year in Ontario alone. [L. Grondin et al, R-Preclosure, p. 7-63.] Society's tolerance of these risks is quite high, in spite of occasional serious accidents.

As reported by Transport Canada's Transport Dangerous Goods Directorate millions of radioactive material shipments have taken place around the world over the past 30 years,. Canada, as the second-largest transporter, accounts for about 800,000 packages annually. While the AECB has recorded about 15 to 20 incidents or accidents per year during such transport, in the vast majority of cases, no contents were released. In the few remaining cases, only small amounts of radioactive material were involved, so there was no significant radiological hazard. [Karen Plourde, in Nuclear Fuel Waste Environmental Assessment Panel Public Hearing Transcripts, March 28, 1996, pp. 16-17.]

Although the transport of radioactive material in Canada has an excellent safety record, most of it has not involved nuclear fuel wastes. Apart from limited shipments of nuclear fuel, Ontario Hydro ships between 1,000 and 1,500 shipments of low- and intermediate-level radioactive wastes each year among its nuclear sites and to AECL's research facilities. Of more than 25,000 shipments covering over five million kilometres in 30 years, only three accidents have occurred, none involving any release of radioactive material. [Theo Kempe, in Nuclear Fuel Waste Environmental Assessment Panel Public Hearing Transcripts, March 28, 1996, pp. 36-38.] However, thousands of shipments of spent fuel have taken place in Europe, either by road, rail or water, largely for reprocessing.

For the preclosure assessment, Ontario Hydro presented a quantitative analysis of used fuel transportation from its reactor locations to three generic facility locations in southern, central and northern Ontario. The utility also gave a qualitative analysis of transporting wastes from other provinces. Even though most spent fuel in Canada is produced in Ontario, a number of reviewers, including the AECB, deemed this analysis inadequate. They also criticized the fact that Ontario Hydro had assessed the effects of an Ontario disposal site only, when the AECL concept was applicable to the entire Canadian Shield.

Ontario Hydro assessed rail, road and water transportation modes and combinations thereof. Transportation by air was ruled out because of the lack of necessary facilities at the reactor sites, excessive cost and the weight of the loaded casks. Furthermore, Transport Canada does not consider air transport feasible at this time. [Transport Canada, Transport Dangerous Goods Directorate, Response of Transport Dangerous Goods Directorate to Ontario Hydro's Preclosure Assessment Primary Reference Document (Gov.008, August 1995), p. 5.] Transport Canada also does not regard water transport very favourably, due to the time and difficulty that would be involved in retrieving a cask in the event of an accident. [Karen Plourde, in Nuclear Fuel Waste Environmental Assessment Panel Public Hearing Transcripts, March 28, 1996, p. 230.] In addition, water transport would probably require a transfer of the cargo to another mode to complete the trip to a disposal facility, thus increasing cask handling. The same would be true for rail transport, since the Bruce and Point Lepreau nuclear stations do not have nearby rail access, and the facility site would not necessarily have it either. [Atomic Energy of Canada Limited, Environmental Impact Statement, p. 164 and p. 155.]

Thus it appears that the used fuel would probably be shipped by road. Not surprisingly, road transportation was a prime preoccupation during the review. Nonetheless, some participants called for more in-depth study of the relative risks of different modes. For example, some suggested that building or extending rail lines, while expensive, could eliminate many risks.

Assuming truck transport only, and a "highest volume projection" of 10 million fuel bundles shipped to a northern region reference facility, the Panel estimates that vehicles carrying used fuel would make up about 15 per cent of all facility traffic during operations, and 13 per cent over the entire life of the project. [Calculated from data in the Environmental Impact Statement, p. 224, and L. Grondin et al, R-Preclosure, p. 5-21, p. 6 - 108 and p. 8-5.] At about 11 truck trips per day (in full or out empty), [Calculated from data in the Environmental Impact Statement, p. 222 and p. 224: 1302 round trips by truck per year divided by 230 transport days per year = 5.7 round trips per day, and 5.7 round trips per day ~ 11 one-way trips per day.] used fuel trucks would comprise less than 0.4 per cent of average daily traffic on the northern region reference route. [Calculated using northern region reference route traffic data in L. Grondin et al, R-Preclosure, p. 7-60.] At 1302 truck shipments per year, such vehicles would also represent less than 0.02 per cent of annual dangerous goods traffic in Ontario. [Calculated using data in Environmental Impact Statement, p. 224 and L. Grondin et al, R-Preclosure, p. 7-63.] Ontario Hydro has made 25,000 radioactive waste shipments over 30 years, with an average distance of 200 kilometres each. In contrast, the reference used fuel transportation system would handle a total of 53,382 truck shipments over 41 years, with an average distance of between 400 and 1900 kilometres each, depending on the facility location.

The Panel estimates that, precluding radiological accidents, used fuel transport in this scenario would result in about five fatalities and 1100 injuries over 41 years of operation (see tables N-2 and N-3). Of these, about two fatalities and 100 injuries would be incurred by members of the public in traffic accidents. Another two fatalities and the remainder of the injuries would be incurred by workers during cask handling and other transportation activities. The remaining fatality would occur when a worker contracted a fatal cancer due to radiation exposure. Overall, used fuel transport would account for about one sixth of the fatalities and one quarter of the injuries estimated for all preclosure activities.

The review highlighted several predominant concerns related to transportation, including highway safety, cask integrity, security threats, emergency response capabilities, liability and insurance, and public consultation.

Some participants feared that accidents would happen because of long travel distances, poorly maintained or inadequate roads, increases in traffic density, unsafe trucks, hazardous weather conditions (such as snow-storms, floods, washouts and forest fires) or frustrated drivers trapped behind trucks. Some were concerned that an accident in a remote area, especially one involving a release of radioactive materials, would cause long blockages of the only available highway, isolating communities for long periods. Many of these concerns could be mitigated by optimizing transportation distances to reduce risk; maintaining, upgrading or bypassing inadequate roads; improving driver training; and carefully planning emergency responses, selecting routes and scheduling trips in consultation with communities along transportation routes. The existing highway infrastructure in northern Ontario may need upgrading to handle long-haul trucks transporting nuclear fuel wastes.

Used fuel transportation would be regulated under Transport Canada's Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act and Regulations and the AECB's Transport Packaging of Radioactive Materials Regulations, among others. Transportation casks must meet the AECB requirements for the Type "B" package used for highly radioactive materials, which are based on IAEA recommendations as described in the EIS (Appendix B.2.3) and R-Preclosure (p. B-4). Ontario Hydro noted that "although there have been incidents during transportation, there has never been a release of radioactive material from a Type "B" package as a result of conditions encountered in a transportation accident." [Theo Kempe, in Nuclear Fuel Waste Environmental Assessment Panel Public Hearing Transcripts, March 28, 1996, p. 45.] About 80,000 Type "B" packages are shipped in Canada every year. [L. Grondin et al, R-Preclosure, p. 2-83.] Nonetheless, participants questioned the structural integrity of the casks, the use of half-scale models for testing and whether the tests incorporate the full range of trauma to which a cask might be exposed in a transport accident on the Canadian Shield.

Transport Canada observed that, while half-scale model testing is an acceptable approach, the analysis would be more credible if some of the results were compared with full-scale tests. [Transport Canada, Transport Dangerous Goods Directorate, Response of Transport Dangerous Goods Directorate to the CEAA Panel re: The Adequacy of the Environmental Impact Statement on the Concept for Disposal of Canada's Nuclear Fuel Waste in Addressing the Issues Requested in the Panel's Guidelines for the Preparation of the EIS, March 1992 (Ottawa: Transport Canada, Gov.001, July 1995), p. 4.] While actual road conditions may vary from the test conditions, the transportation casks as currently designed and tested should provide adequate protection to humans and the natural environment, with very little, if any, leakage of radioactive materials during most accident scenarios. However, in Canada, no full-scale transportation cask has been subjected to testing under actual field conditions. The Panel supports the Transport Canada recommendation that full-scale testing should occur before any implementation phase.

Some participants also feared theft or sabotage of the cargo, especially along remote sections of the transportation routes. As Ontario Hydro points out, several characteristics of the used fuel (such as its high radiation fields and the difficulty of extracting its less than 0.4 per cent plutonium content) and of the transportation casks (such as their minimum weight of 35 tonnes and their ability to withstand extreme accident conditions) would render them relatively unattractive to would-be criminals. [L. Grondin et al, R-Preclosure, p. 7-99.] The AECB and the IAEA would impose various security provisions and safeguards, as outlined in R-Preclosure (pp. 7-97-7-100). The proponent did not anticipate that used fuel transport would require military or police escorts or highway closures, given that these are not currently used in Canada. In a worst-case scenario of a missile penetrating a transportation cask, Ontario Hydro estimated that the consequences would be similar to those of a severe transport accident. [Ontario Hydro, Attachment 1, Ontario Hydro Response to the Critique of Ontario Hydro Irradiated Fuel Transportation Assessment prepared by Dr. M. Resnikoff (Toronto: Ontario Hydro, PH3PUB051, Undertaking 125), p. 18 and p. 31.]

Some participants viewed nuclear fuel waste transportation, its risks and its effects as unnecessary, given potential options for managing wastes on site. Therefore, they could not accept disposal off site. They also noted that shipments of nuclear fuel wastes could become targets for political action and protest groups, subjecting the system to deliberate or inadvertent interruptions, as witnessed in Europe.

Nuclear fuel wastes cannot be transported without an emergency response plan approved by Transport Canada's Transport Dangerous Goods Directorate. The plan must provide assurance that the organization shipping a radioactive product "can act to prevent an imminent accidental release or respond to mitigate the effects of an actual accidental release." This includes stopping an ongoing release. [J.A. Read, in letter to Blair Seaborn (Ottawa: Transport Canada, Transport Dangerous Goods Directorate, September 10, 1992), p. 3.]

Ontario Hydro presented a conceptual plan (Appendix J of R-Preclosure), based in part on its current road emergency response plan, that relies on teams and equipment located at its nuclear power stations and local emergency responders. Many participants, including the AECB, were dissatisfied with the plan, which they felt did not deal adequately with such issues as: response times and capabilities in northern Ontario or outside the province; tracking of shipments; temporary emergency storage facilities for cargo en route; layover locations in case of bad weather or highway closures; and training and notification of local emergency response personnel.

Ontario Hydro said that the actual emergency response plan would be developed in consultation with route emergency response authorities and reviewed by the public, and that similar plans would be developed for Quebec and New Brunswick. It also pointed out that the nuclear utilities and AECL have formally agreed to assist each other during emergencies, if necessary.

A quick-response system would be needed to deal with the accidents and emergencies that would inevitably occur. Rapid deployment personnel and equipment should be located at strategic locations along transportation corridors and at the disposal facility. A carefully thought-out mechanism to notify emergency agencies of shipping schedules, combined with general surveillance and instant communications, would also help the proponent handle emergencies. Security and emergency response measures along transportation routes should be put in place and fully tested with mock exercises before the transportation phase of any project begins. This should be done in close co-operation and consultation with emergency response teams and communities along the transportation corridor.

Related to transportation accidents and emergency responses are the issues of responsibility, liability and insurance. Under the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Regulations, shippers are responsible for responding to and mitigating an accidental release. Under the Nuclear Liability Act, facility operators could also be liable for incidents involving their wastes until these wastes were transferred to the disposal facility. Moreover, a number of participants questioned the adequacy of the $75 million in liability insurance required by the same act. The implications of all these factors for the utilities and a waste management agency are currently unclear.

As part of the site selection process, an effective method for consulting communities along the transportation corridors will have to be established.

The rights of communities affected by transportation were extensively discussed during one of the round tables, but no consensus was reached. [See Nuclear Fuel Waste Environmental Assessment Panel Public Hearing Transcripts, March 28, 1996, pp. 198-249.] If the principle of voluntarism was universally applied, each community could decide whether or not it wished nuclear materials to pass through or nearby. But some participants argued that since the right to veto does not apply to any other type of transportation, it should not apply in this case. In the panel's judgment, while affected transportation communi-ties should not have the right to veto, equitable negotiation with them is an essential part of dispute resolution.