The Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) was established in 2002 by Canada’s nuclear electricity producers in accordance with the Nuclear Fuel Waste Act (NFWA). Operating on a not-for-profit basis under the Canada Not-for-profit Corporations Act, we are responsible for designing and implementing Canada’s plan for the long-term management of used nuclear fuel.
The founding members of the NWMO are Ontario Power Generation (OPG), New Brunswick Power Corporation and Hydro-Québec (HQ). These organizations, along with Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL), are mandated to fund our operations.
Collaboratively Developing Canada's Plan
The NFWA required the NWMO to study approaches for the management of used nuclear fuel, and recommend to the Government of Canada a preferred approach. We initiated the study in 2002. In 2005, after a three-year dialogue with Canadians and Indigenous peoples from coast-to-coast, we submitted our proposed approach to the Minister of Natural Resources.
In June 2007, the Government of Canada selected this approach, known as Adaptive Phased Management (APM), as Canada’s plan for the long-term management of used nuclear fuel.
Implementing Canada's Plan
The NWMO is now responsible for implementing APM, subject to the regulatory decision-making process. We are committed to proceeding in stages, in an open, transparent and inclusive manner.
An early milestone was the collaborative design of a nine-step process to select a site for Canada’s used fuel repository, and a Centre of Expertise that will be a hub for national and international collaboration. The process was finalized in 2010, after extensive input from Canadians and Indigenous peoples. In May of the same year, we proceeded to the first step. We initiated a broad program to provide information, answer questions and build awareness among Canadians and Indigenous peoples about APM and the siting process.
The site selection process is community-driven. It is designed to ensure that the chosen site is safe, secure and has an informed and willing host. The process must meet the highest scientific, professional and ethical standards. The safety and appropriateness of any potential site will be evaluated through a series of progressively more detailed scientific, technical and social assessments. This will take place over numerous steps spanning many years.
Funding Canada's Plan
The NFWA requires the nuclear fuel waste owners – OPG, HQ, NB Power and AECL – to establish segregated trust funds to finance the implementation of APM. These funds were established in 2002. Contributions are made annually by the used nuclear fuel owners. Audited financial statements are made public.
In 2008, as required by the legislation, the NWMO proposed a funding formula to determine the levels of deposits to be made each year by the used nuclear fuel owners. The formula was approved by the Minister of Natural Resources in April 2009.
Establishing an Advisory Council
The NFWA also required the NWMO to establish an Advisory Council. The Council meets regularly. It provides us with ongoing advice and guidance on our work plans and activities. The Advisory Council's independent comments on our work and our triennial reports are made public.