The NWMO responds

The NWMO Statement to Media Following News Release Issued by NDP MP Brian Masse

The NWMO logo

October 15, 2021

Toronto, Ont.


The NWMO logo

I noted with interest the statement Windsor West MP Brian Masse, NDP Critic for the Great Lakes, issued about his visit to South Bruce on October 13, 2021.

MP Masse reiterated the need to speak with local residents for a project of this magnitude, and the need to proactively consider the health of the Great Lakes. I agree with him. For more than a decade, we at the NWMO have been engaging and dialoging with local municipalities and Indigenous communities about the project. Like the MP, we want to ensure people and the environment – including the Great Lakes – are protected for generations to come.

I think it’s important to note that during his visit to South Bruce, MP Masse did not meet with the NWMO. We have since reached out to MP Masse’s office directly, and we hope to meet with him to ensure he’s fully informed about the project. We are pleased to say he has committed to meeting with us in the coming weeks. 

I personally look forward to the opportunity to meet with MP Masse and to share how the NWMO has been engaging Canadians and Indigenous peoples to find a way to safely store Canada’s used nuclear fuel that’s been left over from decades of nuclear power generation. In collaboration with Canadians, Indigenous peoples and the world’s top experts, we are moving ahead with a permanent solution that has the endorsement of scientists from around the world.

The entire purpose of Canada’s plan – the reason we are investing time, effort and money to implement it – is to protect people and the environment, including the Great Lakes. The used fuel will be moved from the surface, further from the lake than where it is now, and placed within a system of barriers to ensure passive safety for generations.  

Two potential siting areas are being considered for the placement of the deep geological repository, one in northern Ontario near Ignace and the one in South Bruce, Ontario that MP Masse noted. The project can only go ahead if it can be demonstrated as safe for people and the environment, including the Great Lakes. It also requires informed and willing hosts, and resilient partnerships with municipal, First Nation and Métis communities. The only areas being considered are those where a community expressed interest in exploring the project and their potential for hosting it.

Canada’s plan for the long-term management of used nuclear fuel is consistent with best practice around the world. While all this material is safely managed today, it’s widely recognized that the interim storage methods we use now are not appropriate for the many thousands of years it remains hazardous. There is global scientific consensus that deep geological repositories are the safest way to protect people and the environment, including precious water resources. This approach is supported by groups like the European Commission, the Nuclear Energy Agency of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, the Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future and the International Atomic Energy Agency, which includes Canada and the US among its 171 member states.

Canada has a strong independent regulator for all nuclear facilities. No nuclear project can proceed unless demonstrated safe. The preferred site for the deep geological repository will be subject to an extensive environmental assessment review and licensing process by the federal government.

In Canada, we can be proud that the way we manage used nuclear fuel is among the many strengths of our nuclear sector. The NWMO is proud to be leading efforts to do the responsible thing by implementing plans to place used nuclear fuel in a manner that will benefit generations of Canadians and Indigenous peoples, for years to come.

There is, unfortunately, some misinformation about the project that continues to circulate which is why I wanted to share my thoughts with you today. I welcome anyone who wishes to learn more about the project to please contact us. We’re always happy to dialogue.

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 more than 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.

Sign up for NWMO news and updates

Subscribe and receive NWMO news, reports, updates and more delivered to your inbox.