The NWMO congratulates Switzerland’s Nagra on selecting a site for a repository for used nuclear fuel

A rendering of how the repository surface facility could appear

Pictured: A conceptual design of Nagra's surface facilities (Source: www.nagra.ch)

The Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) congratulates our Swiss counterpart for selecting a site for its country’s deep geological repository. The National Cooperative for the Disposal of Radioactive Waste (Nagra) announced Switzerland’s used nuclear fuel will be stored at Nördlich Lägern, which is located north of Zurich.

This milestone is the latest in a year of significant international momentum for nuclear repository projects. Since December, Finland’s Posiva Oy applied for an operating licence for its repository, a site was approved for a repository in Sweden and the French government showed support for a repository as its waste management organization, Andra, prepares to apply for a construction licence.

“Deep geological storage is no longer a theoretical approach; today, it is now very much a reality, with projects moving forward in several countries,” said Laurie Swami, President and CEO of the NWMO. “There is international scientific consensus that a deep geological repository is the safest method to ensure the safe, long-term storage of used nuclear fuel. In Canada, as we move towards selecting the site for our repository in 2024, we look forward to continued collaboration with Nagra and our other international counterparts.”

Nagra will now prepare the general licence applications, which it expects to submit to the government in 2024. It will take approximately 30 or more years before Nagra can start waste emplacement operations.

The NWMO has a long-standing and mutually beneficial relationship with Nagra. The NWMO conducts joint research at underground research laboratories in Switzerland, including testing and demonstrating the behaviour of engineered barriers and of the rock under true deep geological conditions. This joint research complements other ongoing work, including the recently completed full-scale demonstration of the engineered barriers that will safely contain and isolate Canada’s used nuclear fuel.

In addition to Nagra, the NWMO has relationships with counterparts in Belgium, Finland, France, Japan, South Korea, Sweden and the United Kingdom, all of whom are, like Canada, pursuing a deep geological repository. As these projects move forward, we continue to learn from one another and keep abreast of developments in repository design.

About the NWMO

The Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) is a not-for-profit organization tasked with the safe, long-term management of Canada’s used nuclear fuel inside a deep geological repository, in a manner that protects people and the environment for generations to come.

Founded in 2002, the NWMO has been guided for 20 years by a dedicated team of world-class scientists, engineers and Indigenous Knowledge Holders that are developing innovative and collaborative solutions for nuclear waste management. Canada’s plan will only proceed in an area with informed and willing hosts, where the municipality, First Nation and Métis communities, and others in the area are working together to implement it. The NWMO plans to select a site in 2024, and two areas remain in our site selection process: the Wabigoon Lake Ojibway Nation-Ignace area in northwestern Ontario and the Saugeen Ojibway Nation-South Bruce area in southern Ontario.