STEP 1. Initiate Process  
STEP 2. Learn More What's New?
STEP 3. Preliminary Assessments Contact the NWMO
Site Selection Process
Step 1
Initiate Process
Step 2
Learn More

Step 3
Preliminary Assessments
What's New? Contact the NWMO

Step 1. Initiate Process >> Overview: Selecting a Site


The process for identifying an informed and willing host community for a deep geological repository for the long-term management of used nuclear fuel in Canada is designed to ensure, above all, that the site which is selected is safe and secure and meets the highest scientific, professional and ethical standards.


Reflecting the guidance we received from Canadians, the process is built on a set of principles that reflects the values and priorities of Canadians on this issue. The process also contains a number of steps that these Canadians told us need to be part of the decision-making process to ensure it is an appropriate one for Canada. The process builds upon the best knowledge and experience within Canada and internationally.




Focus on Safety

Safety, security and protection of people and the environment are first and foremost.

All regulatory requirements will be met and, if possible, exceeded.

The best available knowledge will inform the process.

Select an informed and willing host community

The host community must be informed and willing to accept the project.

Communities will only be considered for this project if they willingly enter the process.

Communities that decide to participate have the right to end their involvement at any point up to and until a final agreement is signed.

Foster the long-term well-being of the host community

The host community has a right to benefit from the project.

Involve those who are potentially affected

The questions and concerns of surrounding communities and those on the transportation route must be addressed.

The NWMO will involve all potentially affected provincial governments.

Respect Aboriginal rights, treaties and land claims

Safety, security and protection of people and the environment are first and foremost. The siting process will respect Aboriginal rights and treaties and will take into account unresolved claims between Aboriginal peoples and the Crown.




The process is designed to be flexible and adaptive to allow individual communities to proceed at a pace and in a manner that reflects their needs and preferences.


Getting Ready

The NWMO publishes the finalized siting process, having briefed provincial governments, the Government of Canada, national and provincial Aboriginal organizations, and regulatory agencies on the NWMO's activities. The NWMO will continue briefings throughout the siting process to ensure new information is made available and requirements which might emerge are addressed.

Step 1

The NWMO initiates the siting process with a broad program to provide information, answer questions and build awareness among Canadians about the project and siting process. Awareness-building activities will continue throughout the full duration of the siting process.

Step 2

Communities identify their interest in learning more, and the NWMO provides detailed briefing. An initial screening is conducted. At the request of the community, the NWMO will evaluate the potential suitability of the community against a list of initial screening criteria (outlined on page 30).

Step 3

For interested communities, a preliminary assessment of potential suitability is conducted. At the request of the community, the NWMO will conduct a feasibility study collaboratively with the community to determine whether a site has the potential to meet the detailed requirements for the project. Interested communities will be encouraged to inform surrounding communities, including potentially affected Aboriginal communities and governments, as early as possible to facilitate their involvement.

Step 4

For interested communities, potentially affected surrounding communities are engaged if they have not been already, and detailed site evaluations are completed. In this step, the NWMO will select one or more suitable sites from communities expressing formal interest for regional study and/or detailed multi-year site evaluations. The NWMO will work collaboratively with these communities to engage potentially affected surrounding communities, Aboriginal governments and the provincial government in a study of health, safety, environment, social, economic and cultural effects of the project at a broader regional level (Regional Study), including effects that may be associated with transportation. Involvement will continue throughout the siting process as decisions are made about how the project will be implemented.

Step 5

Communities with confirmed suitable sites decide whether they are willing to accept the project and propose the terms and conditions on which they would have the project proceed.

Step 6

The NWMO and the community with the preferred site enter into a formal agreement to host the project. The NWMO selects the preferred site, and the NWMO and community ratify a formal agreement.

Step 7

Regulatory authorities review the safety of the project through an independent, formal and public process and, if all requirements are satisfied, give their approvals to proceed. The implementation of the deep geological repository will be regulated under the Nuclear Safety and Control Act and its associated regulations to protect the health, safety and security of Canadians and the environment, and to respect Canada’s international commitments on the peaceful use of nuclear energy. Regulatory requirements will be observed throughout all steps in the siting process. The documentation produced through previous steps, as well as other documentation that will be required, will be formally reviewed by regulatory authorities at this step through an Environmental Assessment and then licensing hearings related to site preparation and construction of facilities associated with the project. Various aspects of transportation of used nuclear fuel will also need to be approved by regulatory authorities.

Step 8

Construction and operation of an underground demonstration facility proceeds. The NWMO will develop the centre of expertise, launched in Step 4, to include and support the construction and operation of an underground demonstration facility designed to confirm the characteristics of the site before applying to regulatory authorities for an operating licence. Designed in collaboration with the community, it will become a hub for knowledge-sharing across Canada and internationally.

Step 9

Construction and operation of the facility. The NWMO begins construction of the deep geological repository and associated surface facilities. Operation will begin after an operating licence is obtained from regulatory authorities. The NWMO will continue to work in partnership with the host community in order to ensure the commitments to the community are addressed throughout the entire lifetime of the project.

The guiding principles and steps in the process are described in more detail in Moving Forward Together: Process for Selecting a Site for Canada’s Deep Geological Repository for Used Nuclear Fuel, available on the NWMO website or by request
Information Package
Review the Steps
Review the Guiding Principles
Full Process Description
Economic Benefits
View the Project Animation
Watch a Video - Focus on Transportation
Overview of Canada's Plan for the Long-Term
Management of Used Nuclear Fuel
Learn More


Invitation to Learn More

What is Used Nuclear Fuel?

Canada's Plan

Project Description

Selecting a Site

Protecting People and the Environment

Community Well-Being

Who We Are


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Contact Us
Nuclear Waste Management Organization
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M4T 2S3 Canada
Tel: 416.934.9814
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Fax: 416.934.9526
Email: contactus@nwmo.ca




Nov-26-2015 01:53:05 AM EST

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