A safe approach

Canada's plan will protect people and the environment for generations to come.

A safe approach

Safely containing and isolating Canada’s used nuclear fuel in a deep geological repository will protect our water, agricultural land and more. Our safe approach extends to every part of implementing Canada’s plan, including environmental protection, transportation, worker safety and safety from a social perspective.
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Environmental protection

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Water protection

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Canada's plan is safe

When the NWMO received our mandate in 2002, Canada was one of many countries facing an important national challenge: how to safely manage used nuclear fuel over the long term. This included ensuring public health and safety and the protection of workers and the environment.

Today, after more than a decade of detailed studies led by our science and engineering teams, the NWMO is confident that a deep geological repository could safely contain and isolate Canada’s used nuclear fuel at either of the two potential sites.

The deep geological repository, which uses a multiple-barrier system, is in line with international best practices and how other countries with used nuclear fuel plan to safely manage it for generations to come.  

Safety is also integrated into every aspect of the NWMO’s program to safely transport used nuclear fuel from interim storage to the repository.

Confidence in safety

We have published updated 2023 Confidence in Safety reports for each of the two potential sites under consideration to host a deep geological repository to store Canada’s used nuclear fuel.

These reports are based on years of research and fieldwork, and build on the previous 2022 Confidence in Safety reports. The reports support the conclusion that a deep geological repository can be constructed at either site to safely and responsibly manage Canada’s used nuclear fuel for the long term.

After a site is selected, more studies will be undertaken to further inform the repository design and long-term safety case. The safety of the proposed site will be confirmed through a rigorous regulatory review of the facility design and safety case. This regulatory review will include the federal Impact Assessment Act (2019) process and licensing by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission.


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Related documents

Confidence in Safety - Revell

Confidence in Safety – Wabigoon Lake Ojibway Nation-Ignace area

Technical report
Confidence in Safety - South Bruce

Confidence in Safety – Saugeen Ojibway Nation-South Bruce area

Technical report

Safety throughout the nuclear cycle

Nuclear fuel has powered communities in Canada for decades. When used nuclear fuel is removed from a reactor, it is highly radioactive. Although radioactivity decreases with time, used fuel remains a potential risk to people and the environment for many hundreds of thousands of years. That means this hazard needs to be safely managed for generations to come.

Canada has a strong framework for regulatory oversight that governs the handling of used nuclear fuel. It is managed and shielded at all times to ensure that no one is exposed to an unshielded bundle. In Canada, used fuel has been safely managed for decades at various nuclear facilities.

Canada's plan calls for used nuclear fuel to be transported from current interim storage facilities to a new, centralized site. In transit, a robust transport package will contain and shield the used fuel. It will then be safely contained and isolated in a deep geological repository with multiple natural and engineered barriers.

Safety and the NWMO's technical program

The NWMO’s research and development programs support the safe implementation of the project. Core activities include optimizing repository designs and developing a safe and secure transportation system. The program works with experts and organizations in Canada and internationally to ensure we benefit from the latest knowledge and innovation in the safe long-term care of used nuclear fuel.
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Benefiting from Indigenous Knowledge

Indigenous peoples have a special relationship with the natural environment and unique guardianship responsibilities that are part of this relationship. The NWMO works with First Nation and Métis communities in the potential siting areas to align with Indigenous Knowledge in both technical safety and community well-being aspects of the site selection process. We also host Indigenous Knowledge and western science workshops that explore opportunities for these two worldviews to align on topics related to our project, such as the importance of water, the historic and present-day significance of copper, and understanding the importance of relationship building.
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Canada's deep geological repository
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Canada's plan

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