Nuclear Waste Management Organization (Canada)

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Nuclear Waste Management Organization
Darlington Nuclear GS.jpg
Darlington Nuclear Generating Station, one of five nuclear reactor sites in Canada
Abbreviation NWMO
Formation 2002
Founder Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Founding President
Type Non-profit Canadian organization
Purpose Long-term management of Canada's used nuclear fuel
Headquarters Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Region served
Official language
English, French
Laurie Swami, BSc (Eng), MBA

The Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) of Canada was established in 2002 under the Nuclear Fuel Waste Act (NFWA) [1] to investigate approaches for managing Canada’s used nuclear fuel. Currently, nuclear power plants are operating in Ontario and New Brunswick.

The Act required Canadian electricity generating companies which produce used nuclear fuel to establish a waste management organization to provide recommendations to the Government of Canada on the long-term management of used nuclear fuel. The legislation also required the waste owners to establish segregated trust funds to finance the long term management of the used fuel. The Act further authorized the Government of Canada to decide on the approach. The government’s choice will then be implemented by the NWMO, subject to all of the necessary regulatory approvals.

Adaptive Phased Management approach[edit]

In 2005, after a three-year study, the NWMO recommended Adaptive Phased Management (APM).[2] In 2007, the Canadian government accepted NWMO's recommendation.[3]

Adaptive Phased Management is both a technical method and a management system, with an emphasis on adaptability.[4] Technically, it is centralized containment and isolation of used nuclear fuel in a deep geological repository. The management system involves manageable phases – each marked by explicit decision points with continuing participation by interested Canadians. It allows for go, no-go decisions at each stage to take advantage of new knowledge or changing societal priorities. Adaptive Phased Management provides an option for shallow underground storage at the central site if some or all of the used fuel needs to be moved before the deep repository is available. It also provides for continuous monitoring throughout implementation and for retrievability for an extended period.

Site selection process design[edit]

On May 4, 2009 the NWMO issued a discussion document outlining a proposed process for identifying an informed and willing community to host the deep geological repository. The $16 to $24-billion national infrastructure project will involve development of the repository and will include the creation of a centre of expertise.

A Proposed Process for Selecting a Site was designed to be responsive to direction provided by Canadians who participated in dialogues with the NWMO during 2008. These participants said they wanted to be sure, above all, that the selected site was safe and secure for people and the environment, now and in the future, and that the process for choosing the site would be grounded in values and objectives that Canadians hold important.

The discussion document set out scientific and technical requirements to guide site selection. It describes implementation through a partnership with an informed, willing community and it outlines proposed steps through which interested communities would be able to learn more as they consider their potential interest in hosting this project.

Expressions of interest[edit]

Site selection commenced in 2010. In May, the NMWO called for communities across Canada to submit "expressions of interest" to host a waste management site. By March 2012, when the closing deadline was announced, 15 communities had made formal submissions.[5] At the closing date of September 30, 2012, NWMO announced that 21 communities were "engaged in learning more about the project, the NWMO and the process. The total includes several communities that have asked the NWMO to begin more detailed preliminary assessment studies (Step 3), as well as communities that have requested information and briefings." [6]

On November 21, 2013, NWMO announced a shortlist of four communities had been selected: Creighton, Saskatchewan, Hornepayne, Ontario, Ignace, Ontario and Schreiber, Ontario.[7] This selection ended Phase 1 of site selection. Phase 2 will involve more detailed assessment including field investigations and additional community engagement.[8]


External links[edit]