8. Workshop reports

In November 2002, Parliament passed the Nuclear Fuel Waste Act (NFWA). It required the major owners of used nuclear fuel in Canada to establish the NWMO. The initial phase of our mandate was to study approaches for the safe, long-term management of used nuclear fuel, and to recommend a preferred approach to the Government of Canada. The historical information about one part of that process is preserved here in line with our commitment to transparency.


    During the course of its discussions with Canadians, the NWMO has commissioned workshops to explore specific elements of its study, and to suggest ideas for broader consideration and dialogue. Summaries of workshop discussions are presented here. The NWMO welcomes comment on these reports.

    Note: Additional workshop reports can be viewed in the Dialogue Reports section of this website.

    8.1 Environmental Aspects of Nuclear Fuel Waste Management

    Robert W. Slater, Coleman Bright & Associates, Chris Hanlon, Patterson Associates ON CAN

    NWMO Environment Workshop

    A workshop was convened in Ottawa in September 2003 to discuss the environmental aspects of nuclear fuel waste management. Eleven experts participated, drawn from business and industry, academia, government, and the non-government sector. Workshop participants were asked to provide advice on the general environmental parameters that govern decision-making and the key environmental questions that need to be answered respecting the management of spent nuclear fuel.

    The discussion during the workshop and the suggestions which emerged focused on three themes:

    Science for decision-making.
    Environmental assessment.
    Workshop Participants
    NWMO Environment Workshop Participants List
    R.W. Slater, Consultant
    Chris Hanlon, Consultant
    Michel Fugère, Le Conseil Régional de l'Environnement du Centre du Québec (CRECQ)
    Rick Findlay, Director, Pollution Probe
    Donald Lush, Ph.D., Stantec
    Jagmohan S. Maini, O.C., Ph.D., Consultant
    Dougal R. McCreath, Ph.D, P.Eng, FEIC, Laurentian University
    Robert Morrison, Ph.D, Carleton University
    Brad Parker, International Joint Commission
    John Roberts, Stantec
    Fred Roots, Ph.D, Science Advisor emeritus
    Peter Victor, Ph.D, York University
    Donald R. Wiles, Ph.D, Carleton University

    Elizabeth Dowdeswell, President, NWMO
    John Neate, NWMO
    Jo-ann Facella, NWMO


    8.2 Technical Aspects of Nuclear Fuel Waste Management

    McMaster Institute for Energy Studies, McMaster University, ON CAN

    This workshop was organized by the McMaster Institute for Energy Studies to assist the NWMO in its mandate to stimulate a wide ranging public discussion on nuclear waste management issues. Its primary purpose was to identify the key issues, questions and concerns that need to be addressed from a technical perspective. The meeting was attended by 50 to 60 participants from various universities, nuclear energy organizations, and technical and consulting companies with a wide range of expertise, interests, and commitments.

    The context of the meeting was set by a plenary address which reviewed the many different international proposals and scenarios for dealing with nuclear waste management. Subsequently, the workshop divided into separate morning and afternoon sessions to deal with:

    Active versus passive approaches to waste management;
    The technology and time horizons involved in the various management options;
    A discussion on whether nuclear fuel should be considered waste or not;
    On-site and off-site storage;
    Permanent disposal options;
    Fuel reprocessing.

    The conclusions from these discussions were then presented and discussed more widely in morning and afternoon plenary sessions.


    8.3 Drawing on Indigenous Wisdom: A Report on the Traditional Knowledge Workshop

    Joanne Barnaby, Joanne Barnaby Consulting, Hay River, NT CAN

    A workshop was held at Wanuskewin Heritage Park near Saskatoon, in September 2003 to discuss how Traditional Knowledge and Practices might guide the work of the NWMO. Key objectives were to identify principles and develop recommendations on what should be considered in the study, identify research and information needs, and to develop suggestions for further consideration. Twenty-three people attended, including elders, academics with expertise in traditional knowledge and practice, national Indigenous organizations and non-government organizations concerned with nuclear waste management.


    Author Biography

    Joanne Barnaby, Joanne Barnaby Consulting
    Joanne Barnaby has extensive experience in working with northern communities. This experience includes over 27 years of working in Indigenous organizations providing both leadership and senior management services to Indigenous peoples. While Joanne has not held a staff position in government, she has held positions of public trust including as a Special Advisor to the Premier of the NWT and as a Special Advisor to the Canadian Delegation on the Biodiversity Convention. More recently, she has been awarded contracts as a consultant to assist in the development of public policy in the management of northern and national resources.

    Joanne now focuses her energy on creating the means for building on the strengths of both western science and traditional knowledge in the development challenges facing northern and Indigenous communities. Her two terms on the Board of Directors of the Science Institute of the NWT together with her pioneering work at the Dene Cultural Institute to bring forward traditional knowledge in a modern day context, has provided her with the unique experience to fully appreciate the needs and opportunities associated with development initiatives. Her work now emphasizes building economic, cultural, and environmental sustainability using western and indigenous traditional knowledge systems, developing management models for full Indigenous participation and for accountability to society. Ms. Barnaby uses an educational approach to facilitating public and Indigenous participation in the consideration of development projects, providing an opportunity to increase appreciation and understanding of the value of each knowledge system. Her long standing working relationship with northern leaders and elders as well as with science based managers has provided her with the communication skills required to bridge these understandings.

    8.4 Community Dialogue: Report of the Planning Workshop

    Glenn Sigurdson CSE Consulting Inc. & Barry Stuart

    Community Dialogue: A Planning Workshop
    October 7 & 8, 2003
    Toronto, Ontario

    The NWMO has determined from early research and discussions that the communities which currently store nuclear fuel waste have special experience, insights and perspectives which should be drawn upon to help inform the work of the NWMO. Additionally, within these communities there is a wide spectrum of perspectives and concerns that in many ways reflect the diversity of views across the country. Accordingly the NWMO determined that an important focus for engagement is with and within these reactor site communities.

    On October 7 - 8, 2003, a Community Dialogue Planning Workshop was held at the Valhalla Inn in Toronto, organized and facilitated by Glenn Sigurdson (who is associated with Simon Fraser University and is a Fellow of the Morris J. Wosk Center for Dialogue) and Barry Stuart (who is a retired judge, and has been involved in alternative dispute resolution for over 25 years). The purpose of the Planning Workshop was to develop and design ways through which the NWMO could facilitate effective and responsive dialogue and communication at the community level.

    To identity possible participants informal meetings took place over the summer of 2003 with people in each of the reactor site communities. These exploratory discussions were held with people who have visibility within the community including the Office of the Mayor, and the head of any community advisory/liaison group and other key stakeholders. Following these meetings the workshop facilitators generated a list of potential participants who could bring to the workshop a full spectrum of community based perspectives (including environmental, labour, industry, business, citizen, health, local government, Indigenous, etc.).

    Three to four individuals were invited from each of the seven nuclear reactor site communities. Participants in the workshop were not invited as representatives of their community, but rather as representative of a perspective. The purpose was to inform and discuss, to plan and design, not to negotiate or decide. Twenty-one people, from the seven reactor site communities, participated in the workshop.

    Workshop Facilitators
    Glenn Sigurdson, CSE Consulting Inc.
    Glenn Sigurdson’s background includes experience as a mediator, facilitator, and negotiator. Glenn is currently associated with Simon Fraser University (SFU) in Vancouver and is a Fellow of the Morris J. Wosk Center for Dialogue. Glenn is a Course Instructor in the SFU Graduate Business Program and in the LL.M. Graduate Program in Dispute Resolution, Osgoode Hall Law School of York University in Toronto. He is a former President of the Society of Professionals in Dispute Resolution (SPIDR), and has an extensive adjudicative background as an arbitrator in workplace, commercial, and healthcare disputes (e.g. he was the Senior Vice Chair of the Manitoba Labour Relations Board, 1980-1989). Glenn is a founding principal of the CSE Group in Vancouver, a group of independent practitioners dedicated to achieving sustainable outcomes and organizations by building sustainable relationships.

    Barry Stuart
    Barry Stuart has been involved in alternative dispute resolution for over 25 years and has both national and international experience as a practitioner and trainer. He has worked as a lawyer, mediator, consensus facilitator, policy analyst to government, chief land claims negotiator, and professor of law at Osgoode Hall and Dalhousie law schools. Barry has also carried out postgraduate research in law and Appropriate Dispute Resolution in Canada, England and the United States. He lectures and writes on a broad variety of topics, including Restorative Justice. As a part of the judicial team of the Yukon Territories, Barry was an innovator of the world's first "Circle Sentencing" program.


    8.5 Looking Forward to Learn: Future Scenarios For Testing Different Approaches to Managing Used Nuclear Fuel in Canada

    Global Business Network (GBN)

    As part of its work and responding in part to the 1998 recommendations of the Nuclear Fuel Waste Management and Disposal Concept Environmental Assessment Panel (the Seaborn Panel) the NWMO initiated a formal scenarios exercise early in its program of activities.

    Over the past several decades a number of techniques have emerged for thinking about the future in ways that stengthen current decision-making. Taking advantage of these techniques is particularly important for the issue of managing used nuclear fuel because of the long time frames over which used nuclear fuel remains hazardous to people and to the environment. Decisions we make today will have repercussions for generations to come and to the best of our ability we have to alert ourselves to these implications.

    In the exercise documented by this report, various futures were considered in order to develop a sense of what kind of conditions might have to be faced in managing used nuclear fuel over the long term. Although we cannot know what future societies will look like, we can try to anticipate what they may look like by envisioning a broad range of possibilities. The formal scenarios technique uses the insight of a team of individuals drawn from many interests to design a range of futures, each of which is plausible according to what we know today.

    In order to undertake the scenarios analysis, the NWMO convened a Scenarios Team consisting of 26 individuals drawn from a range of interests and locations across Canada. Under the facilitiation of the Global Business Network (GBN), the NWMO Scenarios Team set out to:

    Design a series of scenarios that would span a wide range of alternative plausible futures;
    Draw criteria from that work that should be used for analyzing alternative management approaches;
    By doing this, strengthen our preparedness for whatever future unfolds;
    Contribute to understanding the differences in perspectives held by various communities of interest reflected in the Team's composition; and
    Do so giving consideration to four time horizons: 25 years (1 generation); 175 years (7 generations); 500 years (20 generations) and 10,000 years (400 generations).
    This report contains a summary of the future scenarios and criteria developed by this Team.


    Continued reading

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    The Study

    NWMO background papers

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    NWMO background papers

    7. Institutions and governance