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Nuclear waste group on track to select repository site in 2023

Public invited to give feedback on five-year strategic plan until June 11

Despite some delays imposed due to the pandemic, the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) said it’s still on track to select a site for its nuclear waste repository by 2023.

Ignace, a town of 1,200 in northwestern Ontario, is one of two remaining communities in contention for the deep geological repository that will host used fuel bundles underground. The other is South Bruce in southern Ontario.

The NWMO, tasked in 2002 with the long-term management of the country’s used nuclear fuel, released its updated five-year strategic plan in March.

It's now seeking public feedback on that plan via a survey, which respondents can fill out until June 11.

“Your feedback drives and informs all our work. Canada’s plan is your plan, and we need to hear from Canadians and Indigenous peoples to ensure we are on the right track,” said Lisa Frizzell, NWMO’s vice-president of communications, in a news release.

“That is why we have made it easier than ever before for you to share your thoughts about our implementation plan with us. A new online survey is now live on our website, and we invite you to participate.”

NWMO emphasized that the plan is a living document that is regularly “assessed and strengthened” after considering input from communities and Indigenous stakeholders, advances in science and technology, evolving public policy, and more.

The plan details how, after a site is selected in 2023, the group will shift its activities to implementing partnership agreements with host communities; finalizing the safety case for the identified site; preparing to construct a Centre of Expertise; preparing for and participating in regulatory processes; and getting ready to move its operations to the site that is selected.

Design and construction of the facility are slated to start in 2033, and operations will get underway starting in 2040.

The NWMO’s 2020 annual report is available here.