The actions of NWMO prove that “DGR is safe” is a hope and not a fact. More testing required – so why push to develop site until technology is proven safe?
A corrosion scientist newly appointed to Western will add research heft and innovation in the international quest to safeguard used nuclear fuel. Samantha Gateman, an award-winning electrochemist, is the new chair in radiation-induced chemistry at Western. Gateman’s research will be funded through a new $1.1-million grant from the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO).
Gateman’s arrival will bolster the university’s already-strong team of chemistry, physics and engineering researchers who are acknowledged leaders in testing nuclear-waste storage solutions. Currently at Sorbonne Université in France, Gateman will begin her work at Western in January 2022.
The NWMO is responsible for implementing Canada’s plan for the safe, long-term management of used nuclear fuel. The organization’s plan for Canada’s three million used fuel bundles includes containing and isolating them in copper-coated steel containers and then placing the containers in dense bentonite clay within a deep geological repository. But the NWMO first needs rigorous testing of every element of its nuclear storage strategy.
Laurie Swami, CEO of the NWMO
In that research, Western is the NWMO’s longest-running university partner, said Laurie Swami, president and CEO of the NWMO. The organization has invested millions into Western’s anti-corrosion research and other projects in chemistry, engineering, physics and earth sciences over the past two decades.
“It’s important to have a robust understanding of the underground conditions, including corrosion conditions, that would exist in a deep geological repository,” Swami said. “That requires really qualified researchers as well as strong programs … Western is one of the ones we’ve worked with the most.”