Implementing Adaptive Phased Management 2024-28

Keeping abreast of the external landscape and adapting to change

The NWMO is committed to staying abreast of local, national and international developments that may change the landscape in which we operate or impact the project directly. We continue to monitor advances in the energy sector, innovations in nuclear waste management, changes in energy and environmental policies, potential developments involving new nuclear reactor units, changes in society’s expectations, values and insights, and developments with other Canadian nuclear waste initiatives.

A core principle of Adaptive Phased Management is a commitment to adapt plans in response to advances in technical learning, international best practices, ongoing input from the public, insight from Indigenous Knowledge, changes in public policy and evolving societal expectations and values. For example, our transportation planning framework and Preliminary transportation plan are both based on what we heard from communities and people interested in Canada’s plan for used nuclear fuel. Both transportation planning documents were designed to advance these conversations and provide more information on how we plan to safely transport used nuclear fuel.

In addition, in Canada, the nuclear sector is actively exploring emerging nuclear technologies, including new reactors, small modular reactors (SMRs), fuel reprocessing (sometimes referred to as recycling) and other types of advanced reactors.

These emerging technologies may result in different types of used fuel. We are monitoring these developments closely and are in dialogue with multiple reactor proponents to help us prepare for decisions that could change the volume and type of used fuel we are responsible for managing.

This information will help us optimize how to handle the used nuclear fuel for long-term management, how to handle the potential impacts to the repository design and how our funding formulas can be adapted to include new entrants in the future.

As of the end of 2023, the NWMO is aware of three SMR projects in the licensing process. Ontario Power Generation is working together with GE-Hitachi Nuclear Energy to deploy a SMR at the Darlington new nuclear site. Global First Power is working to construct a SMR at Chalk River Laboratories in Ontario, a site owned by Atomic Energy of Canada Limited and managed by Canadian Nuclear Laboratories. New Brunswick Power is working with Advanced Reactor Concepts Clean Technology Inc. to construct a SMR at its Lepreau site in New Brunswick. The first project is seeking a licence to construct. The other two projects have initiated the process for environmental or impact assessment and a licence to prepare site. Additionally, Bruce Power is planning to commence the impact assessment in 2024, for up to 4,800 MW of new nuclear generation on the existing Bruce Site.

We continue to monitor these and other potential projects. As they advance, we will make appropriate changes to our plans.

There is international scientific consensus that deep geological repositories represent the best practice for the long-term management of used nuclear fuel, including that from SMRs and any high-level waste from reprocessing. Canada’s plan is designed to adapt to changes in technology, and we can build flexibility into repository designs so we can be ready for future decisions.

We update an annual watching brief on advanced fuel cycles and alternative fuel waste management technology. We also monitor and report on potential inventories of used nuclear fuel quantities for implications to the repository design.