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

In 2021, the NWMO continued to collaborate with our international counterparts to share information, conduct joint research and learn from shared experiences related to the safe management of used nuclear fuel.

We maintained general co-operation agreements with international counterparts in Belgium, France, Japan, Sweden, South Korea, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. These agreements allow us to work together on joint projects to help ensure we are considering international best practices and sharing resources.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, project meetings continued to be held virtually. A side benefit of virtual meetings was that more of the NWMO’s technical staff could attend information-sharing sessions.

A group of people at a panel during a conference

North American Young Generation in Nuclear hosts a panel during the Canadian Regional Conference, featuring Dr. Mehran Behazin (second from left), Corrosion/Microbiology Scientist at the NWMO, and Dr. Lindsay Brathwaite (on left), recent graduate from a NWMO-sponsored PhD program, to discuss emerging opportunities and innovations in nuclear waste management.

Exchanging technical knowledge with other countries

A group of people standing and listening to a tour

In 2012, the NWMO established the Adaptive Phased Management Geoscientific Review Group, which is made up of five internationally recognized experts from Canada, Sweden, Switzerland and Australia. They possess extensive multidisciplinary experience relevant to the siting of a deep geological repository. (Photo taken prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.)

Throughout 2021, underground research laboratory experiments continued at the Mont Terri Project and Grimsel Test Site in Switzerland, and the Äspö Hard Rock Laboratory in Sweden. Projects included corrosion studies, microbiology, sealing system performance and groundwater behaviour in natural underground conditions, as well as laboratory testing of rock strength.

Specialists at the NWMO contributed to international projects, including the Effective Rock Mass and POST Projects (with SKB of Sweden), the Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) Clay Club, the Crystalline Club, the NEA Integration Group for the Safety Case, and the DECOVALEX coupled-process modelling project. We are also working with Nagra in Switzerland, NUMO in Japan and others to develop and performance test the copper coating technology we use in our engineered-barrier system.

The NWMO also continued our participation in Posiva’s Full-Scale In-Situ System Test project and joined their Engineered Barrier System Behaviour Test – the next phase of this program at Posiva’s ONKALO repository facility in Finland.

Some other joint projects we worked on this year included:

  • Joint modelling project on permafrost and cold climate hydrology;
  • Pre-planning for the project to study natural coppers from Lake Superior;
  • Behaviour of fractured rock mass;
  • Thermodynamic database development; and
  • Pre-planning for a project to study natural bentonites from Japan.

In 2021, the NWMO invested more than $1 million to participate in more than 30 international collaborative projects.