Public Input needed on Draft Transportation Planning Framework

People holding hands

The Nuclear Waste Management Organization will begin transporting used nuclear fuel from reactor sites in Canada to a deep geological repository in the 2040s, and is seeking input to guide future plans. 

The Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) is seeking input from the public to help guide and shape future plans for the transportation of used nuclear fuel in Canada with the release of the draft Transportation Planning Framework: Moving Forward Together - An Invitation to Review. Over the coming months, we will begin actively seeking feedback and input on the framework from Canadians and Indigenous people.

“This is the next step in an ongoing journey,” said Bob Watts, Vice-President of Indigenous Relations at the NWMO. “We know we have the technical ability to safely transport used nuclear fuel, we’re seeking public input to ensure we’re proceeding in a manner that reflects the values and priorities of those who are interested in helping shape the framework.”

The NWMO is responsible for implementing Canada’s plan for the safe, long-term management of used nuclear fuel. Currently, used nuclear fuel is safely stored on an interim basis at existing reactor sites across Canada.

Canada’s plan calls for used nuclear fuel to be transported from these interim storage facilities to be centrally contained and isolated in a deep geological repository, a system of naturally occurring and engineered barriers that will isolate the used nuclear fuel for the very long-term.

We expect to identify the single, preferred location for the deep geological repository in 2024, to be located in an area with informed and willing hosts. Operation of the deep geological repository and associated transportation of used nuclear fuel will begin in the 2040s, following an extensive regulatory review process and construction of the facility.

“Now is the time to develop a socially acceptable framework for safely moving the used nuclear fuel,” adds Watts. “We are relying on Canadians and Indigenous peoples to review the draft framework to identify where we have listened well, and what additions and changes need to be made. Leading up to 2040, we hope people will join this evolving discussion on how to safely transport used fuel.”

Since 2016, the NWMO has engaged with thousands of people to ensure that future transportation plans are designed to reflect the public’s interests and feedback. The release of this draft framework reflects our work to date and is a key next step. We are inviting public feedback via engagement comment forms and an online survey.

Information sessions (mindful of public health guidelines), online virtual presentations, and conversations about transportation will provide insights in addition to the survey.

“The NWMO's transportation program includes technical aspects to meet regulatory requirements, as well as public engagement activities to understand people's priorities, questions and concerns,” said Caitlin Burley, Transportation Engagement Manager. “The transportation of used nuclear fuel is safe and secure and is informed by international best practices. In Canada, the transportation of used fuel is jointly regulated by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) and Transport Canada; while internationally, used fuel shipments must meet the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safety requirements.”