Creating the future together – Annual Report 2023
Creating the future together – Annual Report 2023

In April, we signed a five-year extension of our co-operation agreement with our French counterpart Andra.

This year was a remarkable one for expanding the NWMO’s already strong international partnerships. In April, we signed a five-year extension of our co-operation agreement with our French counterpart Andra. The extension reinforces that France and Canada recognize that the safe, long-term management of radioactive waste and used nuclear fuel is of the utmost priority. It also reflects the reality that both countries have significant expertise and experiences they can share to make sure that both people and the environment are protected for generations to come.

We also signed a Statement of Intent to Co-operate on Used Nuclear Fuel Management with the United States Department of Energy (DOE) in May. The agreement reflects the U.S. and Canada’s shared commitment to safely managing used nuclear fuel, including that from small modular reactors. Through knowledge sharing empowered by the agreement, the U.S. will learn from the NWMO’s experience as it builds its own consent-based siting process. It also lays the groundwork for a program of exchanges and visits, enabling the NWMO and DOE leaders to learn from each other through hands-on experiences in each other’s organizations.

International co-operation agreements like these play a critical role in fostering the global development and demonstration of technology, sharing countries’ experiences and keeping parties informed of developments in repository design. Through these agreements, we are actively learning from the science and technical innovations of the jurisdictions we collaborate with internationally and sharing our own learnings.

While the NWMO is not the first to implement a deep geological repository project, we are among those at the front of the pack. This was clear in our leadership at international gatherings this year and as we welcomed experts from around the globe to learn from our work.

This included a delegation from Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power in the fall. Together, we signed a Letter of Intent to further our collaboration and improve on new technology, adding to our track record of strong international relationships.

Over the course of 2023, we were also active at a number of important meetings and events, including with the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Nuclear Energy Agency and at the fifth annual Canadian Conference on Waste Management, Decommissioning and Environmental Restoration, which welcomed more than 400 participants from 11 countries.

Alongside this key event, we invited conference delegates to our Oakville Discovery and Demonstration Centre, where we shared our technologies with a broad range of key international experts, while also learning from their experience. This was in addition to separate visits from the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute and the Australian Radioactive Waste Agency (ARWA) immediately before and after the conference. Like Canada, Korea has operating CANDU reactors, so there is considerable overlap between our programs, while ARWA has made Reconciliation with the Indigenous people of Australia an important attribute of their program, similar to the NWMO’s commitment to Reconciliation.

Our work throughout 2023 has strengthened Canada’s leadership in safe used nuclear fuel management on the world stage. As more countries advance their plans for repositories, we are excited to continue playing a leadership role, sharing our knowledge and insights as we continue to also collaborate and learn from others’ experiences.

Lisa Frizzell

Vice-President of Communications at the NWMO