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

Canada’s plan for the safe, long-term management of used nuclear fuel includes transporting it from current interim storage facilities to a deep geological repository, a system of naturally occurring and engineered barriers, to be centrally contained and isolated over the long term.

An essential part of Canada’s plan for used nuclear fuel will be safely transporting used nuclear fuel from the interim storage facilities where it is safely stored today to the eventual site of the deep geological repository. While this work is not expected to begin until the 2040s, when the repository is operational, we are already planning for it — always with safety in mind and by responding to meaningful input from Canadians, Indigenous peoples and organizations with a shared interest in future transportation.

In 2023, we engaged with more communities, interest groups and Indigenous peoples than in any previous year, supporting awareness about Canada’s plan and the NWMO’s collaborative approach to transportation planning. We participated in more than 50 meetings and engaged with more than 5,000 people on the topic of transportation in 2023 alone, deepening our relationships and sharing information about the priorities that the potential host communities have identified as most important to them.

For example, we continued engaging with first responders across Ontario by attending five first responder conferences and meetings. At these conferences, we not only shared information about our Preliminary transportation plan, but also sought feedback on what information is important to first responders and how they think the project may impact the important work they do. 

We also collaborated with the Council of Elders and Youth to understand how to align our transportation planning efforts with Indigenous Knowledge. As transportation planning advances, we continue to engage First Nation and Métis communities and apply a Reconciliation lens to this work. For example, we continue to explore how we can align our work with the Seven Sacred Teachings — a set of teachings on human conduct towards others — and learn how we can include community voice in our planning.

We also continued to meet with municipalities, both in the potential siting areas and more broadly across Ontario. By sharing our learnings and expertise, the NWMO also continued to play an important leadership role on used nuclear fuel transportation in Canada and internationally. This included presenting at PATRAM, an international symposium on the packaging and transportation of radioactive materials. We also expanded our engagement to include the broader transportation industry across Canada, by sharing our lessons learned on long-term collaborative planning at the Transportation Association of Canada’s annual conference.

As we move ahead, we are continuing to anchor our work in collaboration and underlining the importance of the transportation planning process as we implement Canada’s plan.

When the time comes, Canada’s used nuclear fuel will be moved from interim storage through municipal communities and the traditional territories of Indigenous peoples, to the eventual repository site. That means it’s crucial for our transportation planning to reflect public priorities and concerns. While we’ve engaged with more people in 2023 than in any previous year, we know there is more work to do and look forward to building on the relationships we are forging in the years to come.

Caitlin Burley

Director of Strategic Programs and Transportation at the NWMO