The Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) was established in 2002 under the Nuclear Fuel Waste Act (NFWA) to investigate approaches for managing Canada’s used nuclear fuel, a by-product of the generation of electricity in a nuclear power plant. If not managed properly, used nuclear fuel is hazardous to people and the environment for a very long time. Currently, nuclear power plants are operating in Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick.
The NFWA required 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 nuclear fuel waste owners to establish segregated trust funds to finance the long term management of the used fuel. These funds were established in 2002. Contributions are made annually by the waste owners and audited financial statements are posted on the NWMO website.
The NFWA required the Nuclear Waste Management Organization to establish an Advisory Council whose comments on the organization’s study and triennial reports must be made public.
Within three years of the legislation coming into force, the NWMO was required to submit to the Minister of Natural Resources proposed approaches for the management of used nuclear fuel, along with comments of the Advisory Council, and a recommended approach. The NWMO conducted its study over three years and presented its report and recommended approach to the Minister of Natural Resources Canada in November 2005.
The legislation authorized the Government of Canada to decide on the approach. In June 2007, the government selected Adaptive Phased Management (APM), the approach recommended by the NWMO. The organization is now responsible for implementing APM, subject to all the necessary regulatory approvals.