For more information about nuclear waste in Canada, please visit
Nuclear Waste Watch
Sierra Club of Canada
United Church of Canada
Greenpeace Canada
Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsility
Assembly of First Nations
What can you do?

New Resources

Expert report: "Effective Arrangements for Waste from New Reactors Do Not Exist"

Rock Solid?
A scientific review of geological disposal of high-level radioactive waste

What is nuclear waste?

History of geological disposal concept in northeastern Ontario 

Canada and nuclear waste 

International situation

Transportation issues 

Health issues

Nuclear Power and Climate Change

NuclearWaste time line 

Videos about Nuclear Waste

Where to learn more

The Great Canadian Nuclear Waste Saga

Nuclear Notes, Issue 1

Nuclear Notes, Issue 2

Nuclear Notes Issue  3

Nuclear Notes Issue 4

Northwatch papers on nuclear waste

"Nuclear Reaction or Nuclear  Resurrection?"

International NGO's
Canadian Government 
Nuclear Industry

Site Dedication
Irene Kock
Visit or our site about the NWMO siting process at
Nuclear waste is not your friend!
and it won't be a good neighbour
Nuclear waste is very long-lived and extremely dangerous. High level nuclear fuel waste is created when nuclear power is used to generate electricity. The waste is a radioactive poison, and includes hundreds of different isotopes, or radiation-producing substances. Even low doses of radiation emitted by the waste can cause cancer, birth defects and other health problems. The waste is lethal and must be strictly isolated from the environment for hundreds of thousands of years. If the wastes leak into the environment, the radioactive elements will contaminate the soil, water and air.
Fifteen communities are currently being studied by the nuclear industry as possible burial sites for highly radioactive nuclear fuel waste. Ten of these are in northern Ontario, four in southwestern Ontario in the vicinity of the Bruce Nuclear Generating Station, and one in northern Saskatchewan.  SEE MAP
Nuclear power production began in the 1970's, before the government or the nuclear industry had any safe means of storing or disposing of the highly radioactive wastes.
In 1977 a three-month three-man federal "commission" recommended burying nuclear waste in the Canadian Shield of northern Ontario 
In 1988 the federal government referred the "concept" of burying nuclear waste to a ten person environmental assessment panel
In 1998 the environmental assessment panel concluded that burying nuclear waste was not acceptable to the Canadian public, and recommended that an independent agency be established to do future research into the long term management of nuclear fuel waste
In 2002 the federal government passed the Nuclear Fuel Waste Act which put the nuclear industry in charge of researching nuclear waste management. The Nuclear Waste Management Organization was created by Ontario Power Generation, Hydro Quebec and New Brunswick Power.
The first step is a nuclear phaseout.

The Nuclear Waste Management Organization says that energy policy is beyond their mandate, but the problem of nuclear waste is unsolvable as long as the waste continues to be produced. At the end of 2004, there were 1.9 million fuel bundles or 45,000 metric tonnes of nuclear fuel waste. By 2009 there were over 2 million bundles. Without an early phaseout, that amount will double. If new reactors are ever built, the volume will rise even higher.

Conservation and alternative energy sources can and must replace nuclear power.

Conservation and alternative energy sources are cheaper, cleaner and more reliable.

In 2007 the federal government "selected" the Nuclear Waste Management Organization's proposal to bury nuclear waste, calling it "vital to the future of nuclear energy in Canada". The announcement was almost simultaneous with the NWMO's launching of what would be a two year exercise to design a site selection process. The ten year site selection process was officially launched in May 2010.

In September 2012 the NWMO "suspended" the call for expressions of interest from communities willing to be studied as possible nuclear waste burial sites. By November 2013, twenty-one communities were being studied. In November 2013 the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO)  announced the completion of the first phase of preliminary assessment  (Step 3, Phase I) for eight of the 21 communities being studied as possible nuclear waste burial sites. Creighton in Saskatchewan, and Ignace, Hornepayne and Schreiber in Ontario have been identified for "further study". English River, Pinehouse, Ear Falls and Wawa were dropped from the NWMO list. In mid-January Saugeen Shores and Aaran Ederslie, both in Bruce County, were dropped while still mid-point through Phase I of Step 3. Fifteen communities remain on the NWMO list of candidate sites.

In November 2005 the Nuclear Waste Management Organization recommended something it called "Adaptive Phased Management" for the future management of nuclear waste, saying it combined all three of the federal government's "options" in a 300-year phased approach moving from storage at nuclear plants, to centralized storage, and finally to deep rock disposal.

In the first phase of the NWMO plan, the waste will remain at nuclear plants for 30 years while a centralized site is selected.  In the second 30-year phase of the NWMO plan,an underground repository will be constructed. During construction, the wastes will either remain at the nuclear plants pending completion of a site research and construction of a deep geological repository at the site, or the waste will be moved while research is still underway, and placed in storage - possibly in a shallow burial site - at the same location.

After the repository is constructed, the wastes will be placed deep below the surface in a series of underground caverns.

The repository may or may not be closed after the following 240 years.

The Nuclear Waste Management Organizations "fourth option" - which they call "Adaptive Phased Management", combines the worst of the options they were directed to research:
  •  it encourages continued production of nuclear waste
  • communities will be put at risk by the transport of nuclear waste, potentially very long distances
  • a site will be selected before research is completed
  • it includes burying nuclear waste deep below the surface - research has not shown this to be a safe method, particularly over the longer time frames required
  • it will be hundreds of years before the community that is made "host" to the disposal facility will know what kind of a facility they are being made "host" to

What you can do?

  • call Northwatch's Nuke Line 1-877-553-0481 to leave a message or send an email with news and updates from your community
  • share this information - make copies of a leaflet for friends, take it to door to door in your neighborhood, or distribute it through groups you belong to
  • educate your  politicians - arrange a meeting, write a letter, make a phone call to your local Member of Parliament, Mayor and members of Municipal Council - ask for their support 
  • as your muncipal council to pass a resolution opposing the transportation of nuclear waste through your community
  • have coffee parties with friends and encourage them to learn more 
  • organize a local workshop about nuclear waste 
  • arrange to have an information table about nuclear waste at local events
  • write a letter to federal politicians; Northwatch will distribute the letter for you to all federal members of Parliament
  • get signatures on a petition opposing the transport of nuclear waste through your community
  • take conservation action! Take steps to save energy in your own home and workplace

               This page is (always) under construction. Please visit again soon
(But while you're waiting, visit Northwatch's page on nuclear issues for more information)

April 2014