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CNSC Studies Model Future Geological Repositories

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) is pleased to announce that it has authored two articles which have been peer-reviewed and published as companion papers in the Canadian Geotechnical Journal.

These articles are based on CNSC studies that created models to test various sedimentary rock formations’ potential to become hosts for deep geological repositories for the long-term management of radioactive waste.

The “Hydro-mechanical response of a bedded argillaceous rock formation to excavation and water injection” article summarizes a study that created a model to analyze what could happen to the host rock surrounding a geological repository after the underground opening is created. The model can determine the extent and characteristics of the excavation damage zone (EDZ). It also helps predict how water could pass through the EDZ and the undamaged rock, as groundwater is a potential transport medium for radionuclides from nuclear waste.

Gases (such as hydrogen, hydrocarbons or carbon dioxide) generated inside the repository constitute another transport medium for radionuclides. The “Simultaneous gas and water flow in a damage-susceptible bedded argillaceous rock” article is based on an extension of the previous model to simulate the simultaneous flow of gas and water in the host rock and the EDZ. The model’s ability to analyze the flow of gas and water in the EDZ and host rock would help facilitate the design counteractive measures. It provides the CNSC with a tool to better assess future proposals for geologic repositories.

The CNSC regulates the use of nuclear energy and materials to protect the health, safety and security of Canadians and the environment; to implement Canada’s international commitments on the peaceful use of nuclear energy; and to disseminate objective scientific, technical and regulatory information to the public.

Quick Facts

As the Canadian nuclear regulator, the CNSC is responsible for licensing geological repositories intended to provide for the long-term management of radioactive waste.

A geological repository is constructed underground, usually at a depth of several hundreds of meters or more below the surface, in a stable host rock.

Specific rock formations need to be considered so that water or gas cannot easily pass through them, which would minimize the ability of radionuclides from the waste being able to escape through the rock.

Since 1978, the CNSC has been involved in independent and internationally collaborative research on the safe long-term management of used nuclear fuel in a geological repository.

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Read the articles here:


Aurèle Gervais
Media and Community Relations
Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission


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