Celebrating two decades of experience, innovation, and collaboration, the NWMO hosted an open house event, Industry Day, on Nov. 22, 2022. The event highlighted technical and scientific innovations underway. Many attendees spoke to the importance of Canada’s long-term solution for used nuclear fuel to the sector and the communities and Indigenous partners involved in implementing one of the largest environmental infrastructure projects in Canadian history.
A wide range of industry leaders took part in Industry Day 2022, expressing their support for the NWMO’s recent progress with implementing Canada’s plan for used nuclear fuel and emphasizing the key role that the project plays in driving the transition to a low-carbon economy.
Attendees were able to see the progress on display as they toured the NWMO’s Discovery and Demonstration Centre in Oakville, Ont. Core technical activities at the Centre include optimizing repository designs, demonstrating safety of the engineered barrier system and developing a safe and secure transportation system.
“As a decision maker for these types of projects in the past, I know how important it is to have strong, unified support from the industry to get infrastructure projects built,” Bill Walker, President and CEO of the Organization of Canadian Nuclear Industries said. “The NWMO’s event today demonstrates the type of leadership and collaboration that will help set up a sustainable, successful nuclear industry for future generations.”
There has been significant international momentum for nuclear repository projects, demonstrating that deep geological storage is no longer a theoretical approach, it is a reality with projects moving forward in several countries including Finland, Sweden and France.
Earlier this year, the NWMO’s engineering team successfully completed a full-scale technical demonstration of our ability to place used fuel containers into an underground repository and install the engineered barriers that will keep the used fuel safely contained and isolated, protecting people and the environment for thousands of years.
“A deep geological repository is a necessary part of our sector’s future in not just Ontario, but all of Canada,” Mr. Walker added. “I have witnessed firsthand how impressive this project can be when I visited Finland’s deep geological repository last month. It will be a gamechanger for Canada.”
John Gorman, President and CEO of the Canadian Nuclear Association echoed Walker’s perspective, stating: “The NWMO’s plan for the safe, long-term management of spent nuclear fuel will be a key part of Canada’s clean energy system and ultimately benefit all Canadians. Our industry is committed to supporting this project and ensuring that Canadians understand its value to our economy, energy security and net zero future.”
Michelle Johnston, President of the Society of United Professionals, provided additional context on the importance of the project for long-term Canadian STEM innovation and job opportunities: “The Society of United Professionals is calling on our federal government to publicly support the siting process and approve this project. The deep geological repository will create long-term, well-paying unionized jobs across the country and provide a new opportunity to show that Canada is the leader in nuclear technology. I am confident that as we showcase our deep geological repository to the rest of the world, we will build social license for nuclear that will drive down global carbon emissions.”
Laurie Swami, President and CEO of the NWMO, expanded on the investment value as well as the moral responsibility to implement a solution for nuclear waste today: “Once we start construction, we will be investing 4.5 billion dollars over a 10-year period, creating and sustaining thousands of high-value jobs. This project is not just about a deep geological repository, it’s about people, including skilled trades, and long-term economic investment over the course of 175 years.”
“We’ve already benefited from the growth of the nuclear industry over the past 60 years, but the waste we produced over that time is a legacy that must be addressed. One of the shared values that emerged from our ongoing engagement of Canadians and Indigenous peoples across the country is that we need to take responsibility for our industry’s waste now and not leave it for future generations,” Ms. Swami concluded.
More than 150 industry leaders and sector partners attended Industry Day 2022 and shared in the commitment to advance a safe, responsible and realistic solution for used nuclear fuel. The NWMO also regularly invites internationally recognized specialists to review our work to ensure that it is consistent with current international best practice and that there is a supportive scientific, technical and engineering basis to implement Canada’s plan.
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.