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Feedback sought on updated nuclear waste storage plan

Five-year proposal outlines steps beyond site selection
The Nuclear Waste Management Organization is inviting feedback on its updated plan for long-term storage of used nuclear fuel bundles. (NWMO photo)

The Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) is seeking feedback on its updated five-year strategic plan, which outlines the country’s proposal for the long-term storage of used nuclear fuel bundles.

Implementing Adaptive Phased Management 2020 to 2024 was published in March.

The NWMO is now soliciting input on the plan, which it said is regularly assessed and changed through public feedback, advances in science and technology, insight from Indigenous knowledge, changes in societal values, and evolving public policy.

“The implementation of Canada’s plan for the safe, long-term management of used nuclear fuel is a collaborative process, and it is important for us to hear from people,” said Lisa Frizzell, the NWMO’s vice-president of stakeholder relations, in a news release.

Established in 2002, the NWMO is a not-for-profit organization, funded by the country’s leading nuclear fuel producers, that’s tasked with developing a deep underground repository to store used nuclear fuel bundles.

According to the NWMO, the country currently has an inventory of nearly three million of those bundles.

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A site selection process, which began in 2010 with 22 communities, has narrowed the search through technical site evaluations and consultations with communities. 

The Township of Ignace remains the last community in Northern Ontario in the running to host the site, after Manitouwadge and Hornepayne were eliminated from the process last November.

A decision on a single, preferred site is expected in 2023, after which the NWMO will finalize the transportation planning framework, submit an impact assessment project description, and submit a licence to prepare site application.

The NWMO estimates it could take 10 years to construct the repository, and operations won’t begin at the site until 2040.

Comments on the updated plan will be accepted until June 10, 2020.