NWMO discussion documents

In November 2002, Parliament passed the Nuclear Fuel Waste Act (NFWA). It required the major owners of used nuclear fuel in Canada to establish the NWMO. The initial phase of our mandate was to study approaches for the safe, long-term management of used nuclear fuel, and to recommend a preferred approach to the Government of Canada. The historical information about one part of that process is preserved here in line with our commitment to transparency.


Draft Study Report: Choosing a Way Forward

“Choosing A Way Forward is the third major report that we have published over the course of our study. We made a commitment to share our thinking as it evolved and was shaped by our investigations and interaction with Canadians. The first documents articulated the issues, tested ideas and reported back on what we were hearing.

This report is of a different character. It is now time to reflect our synthesis of ideas from the two years of our engagement with citizens and specialists, and to propose a course of action.”

Elizabeth Dowdeswell, President
Extract from the Foreword to Choosing A Way Forward

From the beginning of its study, the NWMO has invited all interested individuals and organizations to be involved. Choosing A Way Forward presents, in draft for comment and review, the Adaptive Phased Management Approach for long-term used nuclear fuel management which the NWMO is proposing to recommend to the Government of Canada in November, 2005. The document also outlines how the proposal was developed and how the NWMO is meeting the requirements of the Nuclear Fuel Waste Act.

Through this document the NWMO again invites and welcomes the views and perspectives of Canadians. Is the Adaptive Phased Management Approach an appropriate approach for Canada? Does this approach best meet the values and objectives which Canadians have said are important through the study? What adjustments, if any, should be made before this recommendation is delivered to government? We look forward to hearing from you and invite submissions on or before August 31, 2005.


Discussion Document 1: Asking the Right Questions? The Future Management of Canada's Used Nuclear Fuel

"In the early years of a new millennium it is not surprising that society is asking questions. It is a time of transition in which it seems natural to take the measure of where we are, where we are headed and where we want to go.

This document begins a process of dialogue which will attempt to seek answers in one domain - the long-term management of used nuclear fuel. It is only a first step in defining the problem, communicating potential choices and posing a way of assessing the alternatives.

How we approach this challenging issue will say a lot about our values and priorities as a society - how we want to live. It will set a benchmark for how we as a society will discharge our responsibility to manage the many wastes from the technologies we use to support our quality of life. ...

We hope this document will provoke discussion and participation in the next steps. For some it may be a lengthy read, with too much technical detail. For others it will not be comprehensive enough. Our challenge was to provide sufficient information to illustrate the complexity of the task. Much more information can be found on our web site.

We invite all interested Canadians to help shape the study and ultimately our recommendations to government. This opportunity will continue throughout our work as we intend to keep people informed of our thinking at every stage of the study. While we assume full responsibility for the quality of our work, it will be enriched immeasurably by your contributions."

Elizabeth Dowdeswell, President
Extract from the Foreword to the Discussion Document

The NWMO invites you to reflect on the issues posed by the long-term management of used nuclear fuel. This Discussion Document:

    Describes our legislative mandate, and how we propose to undertake the study
    Shares, for discussion, some of the broad issues and concerns that have arisen in our early conversations with Canadians
    Outlines our initial thinking about building an "analytical framework" for assessing different approaches; and
    Provides, as background for you, some important information on alternative technical methods for managing used nuclear fuel.

It is important that we hear and understand your views about how we should evaluate approaches to managing Canada's used nuclear fuel for the future. We look forward to hearing from you.

An intensive period of dialogue and discussion will follow release of the interim report to ensure that the elements society expects to be addressed are considered. As gaps are identified, adjustments will be made.


Page 27: The scales in Figures 2.2 and 2.3 are reversed. Figure 2.2 should read "linear scale" and Figure 2.3 should read "logarithmic scale."

Page 75: Reference 11 is noted as "AECL 1994 EIS, Report COG-93-11, p. 24." It should read: "AECL 1994 EIS, Report COG-93-1, p. 24."



Discussion Document 2: Understanding the Choices

“Consistently we have heard that the process by which a method is implemented will be as important as the choice of method itself. Very much a sign of the times, there were calls for strong governance, extensive oversight and clear accountability, along with greater and continued opportunity for citizen engagement. Notably, Canadians reveal an immense respect for technological progress to date, coupled with a sense of optimism about what the future holds. They want to proceed in a way that will allow us to continue to benefit from evolving technical advances and shifting societal expectations over time.

There are moments when this seemingly intractable issue threatens to paralyze us, but they are fleeting moments. We believe that a fair and responsible approach for managing used nuclear fuel can be determined. We are inspired by the wealth of Canadian scientific and technical expertise and a public prepared to share their perspectives and priorities. We invite all interested Canadians to continue to contribute comments, to raise issues of concern, and to participate actively and collaboratively in defining a workable strategy. The way ahead will only be blocked by indifference and passivity.”

Elizabeth Dowdeswell, President
Extract from the Foreword to Discussion Document 2

In keeping with the NWMO commitment to share its thinking as it evolves, Understanding the Choices advances the dialogue on used nuclear fuel in Canada by:

    reporting what the NWMO has learned from citizens and experts thus far,
    describing what the management options being studied might look like,
    outlining how the framework to assess them has evolved and,
    presenting a preliminary assessment of the approaches for public discussion.

It is important that the NWMO continue hearing the views and perspectives of Canadians.. Through Discussion Document 2 an invitation is extended to consider and comment particularly on the way in which we propose to compare the options and on the strengths and weaknesses of the options themselves.

Page 29: Text in the third bullet on this page refers to “enriched uranium”. It should instead refer to “separated plutonium”.

Page 97: The name of the Inuit organization Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami is misspelled on this page. The NWMO regrets this typographical error.



Explore the Study

After a comprehensive three-year study, engaging specialists and citizens from all walks of life, the NWMO recommended Adaptive Phased Management for the long-term care of Canada’s used nuclear fuel.

All the specialists and dialogue reports and the analysis supporting the NWMO recommendation are available here for review.

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