Integrated Strategy for Canada’s Radioactive Waste

A first of its kind for Canada, the Integrated Strategy for Radioactive Waste is informed by more than two years of engagement with Canadians, Indigenous peoples, and waste generators and owners, as well as detailed studies of both technical considerations and international best practices. 

In 2020, the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) was asked by Natural Resources Canada to lend its technical and public engagement expertise to the development of an Integrated Strategy for Radioactive Waste. The NWMO was asked to develop this Strategy as part of the Government of Canada’s Radioactive Waste Policy review. 

Canada is safely managing its radioactive waste today. While the majority of Canada’s radioactive waste has long-term disposal plans, there are gaps – particularly with some low-, intermediate- and non-fuel, high level wastes.  

The Strategy submitted to the Minister of Natural Resources on June 30, 2023 for consideration, recommends approaches to address the gaps in waste disposal planning for all of Canada’s radioactive waste from electricity generation and the production of medical isotopes. It does not duplicate or replace the many good long-term disposal plans in place and progressing.

Key Recommendations

The Strategy makes two key recommendations based on waste types – one for low-level waste and another for intermediate-level and a very small amount of non-fuel, high-level waste. 

It is recommended that low-level waste be disposed of in near-surface disposal facilities with implementation managed by waste generators and waste owners/ It is also recommended that intermediate-level waste and non-fuel, high-level waste from medical isotope production be disposed of in a deep geological repository, implemented by the NWMO and developed through a consent-based siting process.  

Implementing Principles 

The Strategy includes four principles to support the effective implementation of its recommendations. These principles are based on what Canadians and Indigenous peoples shared was most important through the NWMO’s engagement efforts. 

1. Consent of the local communities and Indigenous peoples in whose territory future facilities will be planned must be obtained through the siting process.

2. Design of facilities should prioritize the protection of water.

3. Long-term caretaking should be established for disposal facilities.

4. We need to take action now and not defer to future generations . 

Implementing Principles graphic

Thanks to all who have contributed to the development of this Strategy. The recommendations put forward reflect what we heard is most important when considering how Canada’s radioactive waste is managed in years to come.

Read the Integrated Strategy for Radioactive Waste

Visit the Integrated Strategy on Radioactive Waste (ISRW) Reports Page 

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Current and Past Participation Opportunities

Indigenous Relations

We are committed to long-lasting relationships with Indigenous peoples built upon communication, transparency, respect and reconciliation. We will engage with Indigenous peoples on the Integrated Strategy on Radioactive Waste (ISRW), and ensure all participants are provided the opportunity to provide input and advice.

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Frequently asked questions and answers