Integrated Strategy for Radioactive Waste
The first of its kind for Canada, the Integrated Strategy for Radioactive Waste is informed by more than two years of engagement with Canadians, Indigenous peoples and waste generators and owners, as well as detailed studies of both technical considerations and international best practices.
In 2020, the NWMO was asked by Natural Resources Canada to lend our technical and public engagement expertise to the development of an Integrated Strategy for Radioactive Waste. We were asked to develop this strategy as part of the Government of Canada’s Radioactive Waste Policy review.
Canada is safely managing its radioactive waste today. While the majority of Canada’s radioactive waste has long-term disposal plans, there are gaps — particularly with regard to some low-, intermediate- and non-fuel high-level wastes.
The strategy submitted to the Minister of Natural Resources on June 30, 2023 for consideration recommends approaches to address the gaps in waste disposal planning for all Canada’s radioactive waste from electricity generation and the production of medical isotopes. It does not duplicate or replace the many good long-term disposal plans in place and progressing.
The strategy makes two key recommendations based on waste type — one for low-level waste and another for intermediate-level and a very small amount of non-fuel high-level waste.
It is recommended that low-level waste be disposed of in near-surface disposal facilities with implementation managed by waste generators and waste owners.
It is also recommended that intermediate-level waste and non-fuel high-level waste from medical isotope production be disposed of in a deep geological repository, with implementation by the NWMO. This recommendation would include a consent-based siting process.
The strategy includes four principles to support the effective implementation of its recommendations. These principles are based on what Canadians and Indigenous peoples shared was most important to them through the NWMO’s engagement efforts.
1. The consent of the local communities and Indigenous peoples in whose territory future facilities will be planned must be obtained through the siting process.
2. The design of facilities should prioritize the protection of water.
3. Long-term caretaking should be established for disposal facilities.
4. We need to take action now and not defer to future generations.
Canada’s plan for used nuclear fuel remains unchanged. Our work with the two remaining areas involved in the consent-based siting process for a deep geological repository for used nuclear fuel continues and is separate from the development and considerations of this strategy.
Thanks to all who have contributed to the development of this strategy. The recommendations put forward reflect what we heard is most important when considering how Canada’s radioactive waste is managed in years to come.
Read the proposed Integrated Strategy for Radioactive Waste.
Learn more about the engagement process at http://www.radwasteplanning.ca.