The NWMO is working with Canadians and Indigenous peoples to develop a socially acceptable framework for transporting used nuclear fuel.
In 2021, our work on transportation planning continued to focus on responding to people’s priorities, questions and concerns about how used nuclear fuel will be transported from the interim storage facilities where they are managed today, to the deep geological repository once it is operational in the 2040s. As this used fuel must be transported through communities and traditional territories to reach the repository, it is essential that the NWMO’s planning ensures safe and secure transportation, and reflects public priorities and concerns. To that end, we have continued to actively seek feedback from the Council of Elders and Youth, as well as thousands of Canadians and Indigenous peoples through surveys and engagement sessions, both virtual and in-person.
In 2021, we published a What we heard report summarizing the input we received from people and communities about our draft transportation framework. Using that feedback, we revised the draft framework and have committed to updating it every three years.
People also told us they want more detailed information about transportation planning that is easy to understand, so we developed and released a plain-language Preliminary transportation plan. As the transportation framework will be a dynamic document, our engagement activities will continue over the next 25 years to ensure it reflects the evolving perspectives and addresses the concerns of Canadians and Indigenous peoples.
In 2021, we also developed a community-based transportation working group that held two virtual meetings to advise the NWMO on implementing the transportation framework. We also organized and attended more than 30 virtual presentations, panel discussions and workshops during the year, took part in a virtual workshop with the Ontario Good Roads Association, and participated in an international panel discussion where experiences about the transportation of used nuclear fuel were shared.
We also continued to engage with Indigenous communities, including with the Métis Nation of Ontario. Indigenous voices will play an important role as we move forward with transportation planning. We are committed to listening to the priorities Indigenous communities identify. Our planning is guided by those priorities, along with Indigenous Knowledge and science.
The NWMO’s technical work in this area focused on exploring design concepts and key components of the used fuel transportation system. While this includes both road and rail as potential modes of transportation, along with various transportation packages, the cost estimates associated with the transportation of used fuel that form part of the NWMO’s lifecycle cost estimate considered an all-road scenario.