Guided by Science. Grounded in knowledge. Committed to partnership - Annual Report 2021
Guided by Science. Grounded in knowledge. Committed to partnership - Annual Report 2021

Developing a Canadian Integrated Strategy for Radioactive Waste

An artist's illustration

People from across Canada are contributing to the development of an Integrated Strategy for Radioactive Waste. This is an artist illustration of one of our conversations.

All Canada’s low- and intermediate-level radioactive waste is safely managed today in interim storage. An integrated strategy will ensure these materials continue to be safely managed following international best practices over the very long term.

In November 2020, the Minister of Natural Resources Canada formally launched an inclusive engagement process to ensure Canada has a strong, modern radioactive waste policy that continues to meet international standards based on the best available science and that reflects the values and principles of Canadians.

The NWMO has been asked by the Minister of Natural Resources to develop an Integrated Strategy for Radioactive Waste ( to ensure that all Canada’s radioactive waste has disposal solutions. We have been asked to lead development of the strategy, in part to leverage our nearly 20 years of recognized expertise in the engagement of Canadians and Indigenous peoples on plans for the safe, long-term management of used nuclear fuel.

Building on our previous work, this strategy represents a next step to identify and address any gaps in radioactive waste management planning, while also looking further into the future. The focus of this work is on low- and intermediate-level waste for which there are no long-term plans in place.

The NWMO is following an open and transparent engagement process that will yield a strategy reflective of the values and interests of the public. We have come a long way in 2021. We heard from communities across Canada, Indigenous peoples, academics, a wide range of interest groups and technical experts. Their input will inform practical recommendations to the Canadian government on a more comprehensive radioactive waste management strategy.

In 2021, we hosted our first Canadian Radioactive Waste Summit, which saw more than 500 participants engage during the event, participating in polls, question-and-answer periods and breakout sessions. We hosted a series of 12 community engagement events across towns, cities and provinces to hear what people have to say on Canada’s Radioactive Waste Strategy. We also followed up with a series of technical workshops and roundtable sessions to gather opinions and insights from industry, youth, academics and other key stakeholder groups. We further engaged with Indigenous peoples through dedicated activities. The outcomes from these sessions and events will be compiled into a series of “what we heard” reports published early in 2022 and will help develop informed and practical recommendations for the Government of Canada.

As part of our commitment to transparency, the NWMO has published a report on technical options and created several tools to ensure these resources are accessible to anyone who is interested. We have also produced a layperson summary report of the technical options.

The NWMO additionally created a series of fact sheets that include information on a range of disposal options, including a shallow rock cavern, deep borehole, deep geological repository, containment mound, and rolling stewardship, all of which are available on our website (

We continue to engage with Canadians and Indigenous peoples on a strategy for Canada’s low- and intermediate-level radioactive waste, developing new ways to engage with interested individuals and organizations, while respecting public health directives related to the COVID-19 pandemic.