Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL) has developed a concept for permanent geological disposal of Used nuclear fuel in Canada. This concept, based on a multibarrier system, would involve disposal of nuclear fuel waste in titanium or copper containers, surrounded by compacted clay-based buffer and backfill materials, in a vault 500-1000 m deep in granitic rock of the Canadian Shield. Subsurface environments will not be sterile and an experimental program was initiated in 1991 by AECL to address and quantify the potential effects of microbial action on the integrity of the disposal vault. This microbial program focuses on answering specific questions in areas such as the survival of bacteria in compacted clay-based buffer materials under relevant radiation, temperature and desiccation conditions mobility of microbes in compacted buffer materials; the potent a for microbially influenced corrosion of containers; microbial gas production in backfill material; introduction of nutrients as a result of vault excavation and operation; the presence and activity of microbes in deep granitic groundwaters; and the effects of biofilms on radionuclide migration in the geosphere. This paper summarizes the results to date from the research activities at AECL.
Stroes-Gascoyne, S., & West, J. M. (1997). Microbial studies in the Canadian nuclear fuel waste anagement program. In FEMS Microbiology Reviews (Vol. 20, pp. 573–590). https://doi.org/10.1016/S0168-6445(97)00035-1