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​Growing momentum about safe long-term management of used nuclear fuel displayed at Teeswater forum

April 18, 2023

To the editor:

Recently, I had the pleasure of being a keynote speaker and attending the South Bruce Nuclear Exploration Forum in Teeswater. It was heart-warming to see such a strong turn-out of residents and local leaders looking for information about Canada’s plan for the long-term management of used nuclear fuel.   

There’s nothing like being on the ground and meeting people face-to-face. I appreciated listening to local community members and seeing first-hand the growing interest in the project as we move toward 2024 – a milestone year – in which we will be selecting a site for Canada’s Deep Geological Repository (DGR) for used nuclear fuel.

The forum was an excellent example of how diverse views, collaboration and working in partnership, continue to shape this project.

I offer a big thank you to the Municipality of South Bruce for hosting this event, as well as everyone who attended and those who worked behind the scenes to make it a successful two days.

We’ve said many times this project will only move forward in an area with informed and willing hosts, where the municipality, First Nation and Métis communities, and others in the area are working together to implement it. In the simplest terms, the project has to be technically sound and socially acceptable.  

We understand a decision of this magnitude for both potential siting areas (Wabigoon Lake Ojibway Nation-Ignace area and the Saugeen Ojibway Nation-South Bruce area) requires a high level of confidence that the project is safe and that it will contribute to the revitalization and diversification of the local economies and overall community well-being.  

During the forum, attendees heard how the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) remains committed to making safety a top priority. Our team has made significant strides forward, having completed a full-scale demonstration of the multi-barrier system and also by publishing the Confidence in Safety reports last June. The entire purpose of Canada’s plan – the reason we are investing time, effort and money to implement it – is to protect people and the environment, including water.

We also heard how community studies outline some of the important socio-economic impacts. One of the significant findings is that if the project comes to the Saugeen Ojibway Nation-South Bruce area, it will create hundreds of direct and indirect high-value jobs into the next century. That alone opens up countless economic and social opportunities, supporting a stronger future for communities and families here.

As governments in Canada and around the world increasingly look to nuclear energy as part of their climate change strategies, there is a mounting global imperative to develop safe solutions for used nuclear fuel, and there is consensus that DGRs represent the safest approach. A particularly exciting part of the forum was hearing from guests from Finland, Sweden and the United States about their progress.

Those who attended the forum will have heard that Canada is recognized, internationally, as one as one of the countries leading the charge to safely manage used nuclear fuel. We hope you are as proud as we are to be pioneering a consent-based process for siting this major environmental infrastructure project. 

Together, we can build a future where the safe disposal of used nuclear fuel is no longer viewed as a problem in need of a solution, but instead as a proven model of responsible stewardship.

We look forward to the possibilities that lie ahead.

Laurie Swami
President and chief executive officer

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