Canada's NWMO outlines repository plans

27 March 2020

Canada's Nuclear Waste Management Organisation (NWMO) says it remains on track to select a single, preferred site by 2023 for a deep geological repository for used nuclear fuel. The organisation has released its latest Triennial Report, including for the first time a strategic plan beyond site selection.

The NWMO released its latest Triennial Report this week (Image: NWMO)

The NWMO report, Moving towards partnership – Triennial Report 2017 to 2019, meets a requirement of Canada's Nuclear Fuel Waste Act (NWFA) and will be tabled in Parliament. During the reporting period, the organisation narrowed its focus from nine study areas in 2017 to two in 2019. At the same time, its technical programme has made steady advancements, including continuing to demonstrate the safety and effectiveness of the multiple-barrier system, and learning more about the rock at potential siting locations.

"Throughout this reporting period, bold steps are evident in all our work - in advancing site selection, in validating our technical solutions, and in leading by example with our Reconciliation journey," NWMO President and CEO Laurie Swami said. The NWMO in 2018 issued a Reconciliation Statement, which recognises its ongoing involvement, collaboration and discussions with Indigenous communities, and its commitment to reconciliation with First Nation, M├ętis and Inuit peoples.

The Canadian government, through the NWFA, in 2002 assigned responsibility for the long-term management of Canada's used nuclear fuel to the not-for-profit NWMO. A two-phase preliminary assessment process to narrow down study areas from a list of 21 communities that had registered interest was launched in 2010, as part of a long-term process called Adaptive Phase Management. From the communities that initially requested preliminary assessments, two - Huron-Kinloss and South Bruce in southern Ontario and Ignace in north-western Ontario - now remain under consideration as potential host areas for the project.

The new five-year strategic plan, Implementing Adaptive Phased Management 2020 to 2024, which forms part of the Triennial Report, sets out a timeline for 2023 and beyond. The period 2020-2024 will see the NWMO complete the process of identifying a single preferred site and move into the licensing and regulatory process, it says. This is part of a longer timeline in which, following site selection in 2023, estimates that a site preparation licence would be granted in 2026, followed by a construction licence in 2032 and with design and construction beginning in 2033. Deep repository operations would begin between 2040 and 2045.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News