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Ministerial Statement Regarding NWMO Integrated Strategy for Radioactive Waste

Press Release

From: Natural Resources Canada

October 5, 2023

The Government of Canada is committed to ensuring the safe, effective and environmentally sound management of radioactive waste. Protecting the health and safety of people and the environment is a core responsibility that the Government of Canada takes seriously, particularly with regard to the sound management of generated radioactive waste.

Today, the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Energy and Natural Resources, has released a public statement signalling the Government of Canada’s acceptance of the Integrated Strategy for Radioactive Waste (the Strategy) developed by the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) and associated partners.

On June 30, 2023, following release of the modernized Policy for Radioactive Waste and Decommissioning for Canada (the Policy), the NWMO submitted the Strategy for ministerial review and consideration. It outlines an integrated, national plan for the long-term management of all of Canada’s radioactive waste, specifically in subsectors where disposal planning can be integrated into existing plans, such as with low-level radioactive waste. The Strategy is the next step to implementing the principles outlined in the Policy and complements ongoing plans, such as Canada’s plan for the long-term management of nuclear fuel waste.

This Strategy reflects international best practices and is the result of over two years of extensive engagement with Indigenous Peoples and Canadians across the country. With this clear and sound Strategy, waste owners must continue to work together to implement the recommendations and develop more detailed waste management plans, with oversight from the federal government and in line with international standards. Waste owners will also work to update the Strategy, by 2028, to ensure it reflects progress in planning and implementation and advancements in science and technology.

Canada is a world leader in the development and deployment of nuclear technologies. Nuclear energy is non-emitting and has been recognized by the International Energy Agency and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change as a vital energy solution to reduce emissions from fossil fuel alternatives while ensuring reliable baseload power. Canada is working with international partners to ensure nuclear technology is responsibly developed within the context of achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.

Quotes

“As Canada advances toward a low-carbon future, nuclear energy will continue to be an important contributor of reliable, non-emitting power for millions of Canadians. Canada is a global leader in the nuclear sector, including in the safe and environmentally sound management of radioactive waste. The release of the Integrated Strategy for Radioactive Waste is an important step in the continued responsible management of Canada’s nuclear sector.”

The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson
Minister of Natural Resources

“Canada’s leadership in nuclear technology creates a responsibility for the management of the waste generated. We have heard clearly that Canadians and Indigenous Peoples want action taken now, rather than leaving this to future generations. The NWMO is proud to be developing world-class expertise here in Canada that the rest of the world is looking to as they address the same challenges. We look forward to bringing this expertise to our role in implementing this strategy, including the next step of developing a consent-based siting process for a repository for intermediate-level and non-fuel, high-level waste.”

Laurie Swami
President and CEO, Nuclear Waste Management Organization

Quick facts

  • All radioactive waste generated in Canada is safely managed, according to international best practices that are based on the best available science, and there is a comprehensive legislative framework for nuclear energy and technologies, including radioactive waste, that focuses on protecting health, safety, security and the environment.
  • On March 31, 2023, following two years of extensive engagement with interested Canadians and Indigenous Peoples, Natural Resources Canada released the modernized Policy for Radioactive Waste and Decommissioning (the Policy) for Canada, which ensures that the safe management of radioactive waste continues to align with international standards and best practices that reflect the values and principles of Canadians.
  • To complement the Policy review, Natural Resources Canada asked the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO), a not-for-profit organization responsible for implementing Canada’s plan for the long-term management of nuclear fuel waste, to lead a dialogue to develop an integrated strategy for Canada’s radioactive waste through close collaboration among waste owners and producers, Indigenous Peoples and other interested Canadians.
  • As stated in the Policy, waste producers and owners are responsible for developing, implementing and maintaining a strategy for Canada’s radioactive waste. The initial Strategy provides a general approach that sets the direction for the development of future long-term waste management plans. As waste owners develop these plans, oversight will be provided by the federal government.
  • The Strategy’s two fundamental recommendations for the overall approach to radioactive waste management are:
    – Intermediate-level waste and non-fuel high-level waste are to be disposed of in a deep geological repository with implementation by the NWMO.
    – Low-level waste is to be disposed of in multiple near-surface disposal facilities with implementation by waste generators and waste owners.

Associated links

Contacts

Natural Resources Canada

Media Relations

343-292-6100

media@nrcan-rncan.gc.ca

Carolyn Svonkin

Press Secretary

Office of the Minister of Energy and Natural Resources Canada

343-292-6837

carolyn.svonkin@nrcan-rncan.gc.ca

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