Planning for the transportation of used nuclear fuel from interim storage facilities to a deep geological repository site is a key portion of Canada's plan for the safe, long-term management of used nuclear fuel.  

As part of the process, we engage with and seek input from Canadians, Indigenous peoples and organizations with a shared interest in future transportation.  

The NWMO is working to develop a socially acceptable Transportation Planning Framework that is informed by public input and dialogue.

Transportation Planning Framework

The NWMO has been engaging with thousands of Canadians, Indigenous peoples and organizations to understand their perspectives, suggestions, questions and concerns regarding the transportation of Canada's used nuclear fuel. Through this dialogue, a socially acceptable framework for future transportation planning is emerging.

In 2020, the NWMO published "Moving forward together: An invitation to review a draft planning framework for the transportation of used nuclear fuel." The draft framework outlines what we heard and understand from the public about how to implement this phase of Canada’s plan, and includes planning objectives, issues to be addressed and factors the NWMO needs to consider.

In 2021, the NWMO published "What we heard about the draft transportation planning framework," a summary of the results from engagement on the draft transportation planning framework. 

The public input received was incorporated into two planning documents that address the wide range of priorities, questions and concerns heard to date from Canadians and Indigenous peoples about the transportation of used nuclear fuel.

“Moving forward together: Planning framework for the transportation of used nuclear fuel,” sets out objectives, priorities, and considerations for transporting used nuclear fuel. It was informed by public feedback on an initial draft released in August 2020.

The “Preliminary Transportation Plan” provides an overview of the technical approaches, regulatory requirements, and planning assumptions that the NWMO will build on to ensure safe and secure transportation that protects people and the environment.

The NWMO’s transportation approach will be subject to ongoing review and public reporting. Every three years, the NWMO will review and revise the Transportation Planning Framework, which will consider updates based on factors, such as evolving best practice, new technologies, and ongoing adaptation and continuous improvement.

Community-Based Transportation Working Group

The NWMO established the Community-Based Working Group to seek feedback from a broad range of individuals across Ontario, Québec and New Brunswick about how to implement the organization’s transportation planning framework. Feedback and advice will be sought in the following specific areas:

  • Envisioning collaborative transportation planning; and
  • Opportunities and challenges related to engagement and dialogue for the transportation program.

Future details and updates on the working group will be shared here.

Safety and Security

Once a site is selected, we will need to demonstrate that preferred modes and routes meet regulatory requirements. We are committed to a safe transportation system which includes:

  • A robust, tested and certified transportation package
  • Requirements are met for safety and security
  • A Transportation Security Plan is in place
  • An Emergency Response Plan is in place
  • Requirements are met to obtain a licence to transport 
  • Periodic reviews and audits are planned

Canada follows the International Atomic Energy Agency’s guidance and standards and also monitors transportation programs for radioactive materials in France, Germany, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States. 

Developing a Planning Framework

Planning for transportation of used nuclear fuel requires involvement of a broad range of citizens and knowledge specialists.

The plan will need to lay out:

  • Clear objectives;
  • Issues that will need to be addressed;
  • Factors to consider in making decisions; and
  • The means we will use to ensure the plan includes the best knowledge and experience, as well as the values and priorities of citizens.

We have time to develop the transportation plan together and consider it carefully, as transportation is not expected to begin before 2040.

Exploring Modes of Transport

Over the past 50 years, more than 20,000 shipments of used nuclear fuel have been made worldwide. Modes of transport have included road, rail and water. The NWMO is looking at road and rail to move used fuel to each of the potential host communities. Initial assessments suggest that one or both of these modes appear to be options.