Nuclear Waste Time Line

1945  Experimental reactor at a research laboratory in Chalk River went critical, achieving the first "self-sustained nuclear reaction outside the United States."

1952 Atomic Energy of Canada Limited  was formed by the government with a mandate to develop "peaceful" uses of nuclear energy.

1962  Nuclear power production began in Canada when the NPD Research Reactor, owned by Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. (AECL), went into operation at Rolphton, Ontario.

1963 AECL established the Whiteshell Nuclear Research Establishment (now Whiteshell Laboratories) in Pinawa, Manitoba

1968 AECL started commercial electricity production at its Douglas Point nuclear generating station in Kincardine, Ontario.

1970's  the commissioning of Ontario Hydro’s Pickering A and Bruce A Nuclear Generating Stations

1975 the Canadian nuclear industry defined its waste-management objective as to "...isolate and contain the radioactive material so that no long term surveillance by future generations will be required and that there will be negligible risk to man and his environment at any time. ... Storage underground, in deep impermeable strata, will be developed to provide ultimate isolation from the environment with the minimum of surveillance and maintenance."

1977 the federal government appointed an expert group to carry out a study on the safe, long-term storage of radioactive waste from nuclear power stations.  Among other things, this group of experts, led by Dr. Kenneth Hare, reported that “Canada urgently need[ed] a plan for the management and disposal of nuclear wastes.” It said that underground disposal in geological formations was the most promising option.

1977 AECL faces community opposition to efforts to site a nuclear waste disposal (research?) site near Madoc

1978 AECL faces community opposition to efforts to site a nuclear waste disposal (research?) site in Renfrew County

1978 In response to the Hare Report, the governments of Canada and Ontario jointly established in 1978 the Canadian Nuclear Fuel Waste Management Program (CNFWMP). Under the program the federal government, through its crown corporation Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. (AECL), had responsibility for managing the program and developing the technology for long-term disposal of used nuclear fuel, while the province of Ontario, through its electrical utility Ontario Hydro (now known as Ontario Power Generation, or OPG), had responsibilty for advancing the technologies of interim storage and transportation. Other partners included federal departments within Energy, Mines and Resources Canada (now Natural Resources Canada) and Environment Canada, as well as several Canadian universities and consultant companies.

1979 AECL faces community opposition to efforts to site a nuclear waste disposal (research?) site near Atikokan

1980 AECL faces community opposition to efforts to site a nuclear waste disposal (research?) site near Kirkland Lake

1981 AECL faces community opposition to efforts to site a nuclear waste disposal (research?) site near Massey

1981 The governments of Canada and Ontario subsequently directed the CNFWMP to focus on a generic design that did not require a specific siting decision.

1980’s the comissioning of Hydro-Québec’s Gentilly-2, New Brunswick Power’s Point Lepreau Generating Station, and Ontario Hydro’s Pickering B and Bruce B Nuclear Generating Stations.

1988 the CNFWMP, through AECL, submitted its generic (non-site-specific) proposal [11] for long-term nuclear used-fuel management to the federal government, which intiated an Environmental Review process that ultimately took ten years to conclude. Under the proposal, the used fuel would be placed in disposal vaults about 500 to 1000 meters deep in the granite rock of the Canadian Shield. The "formations of choice" are large, single intrusions called batholiths, formed between one and two billion years ago, and geologically stable since that time. Other criteria met by grantitic batholiths are low mineral (and therefore economic) value, and low ground-water movement rates.

1988 In Canada’s Minister of Energy, Mines, and Resources requested that a federal environmental assessment panel review the AECL concept for deep geological disposal. AECL Concept Referred to Panel under the Environmental Assessment Review Panel Guideline Order (EARPGO)

1989  formation of the Nuclear Fuel Waste Management and Disposal Concept Environmental Assessment Panel (The Seaborn Panel)

1990 Scoping Sessions Held for Panel Review

1992 last commercial nuclear reactor commissioned in Canada was at the Darlington Nuclear Generating Station

1992 Panel issues Environmental Impact Statement(EIS) Guidelines

1994 AECL's EIS Issued

August 1995 Public Comment deadline on Adequacy of AECL EIS

October 1995 Evaluation of EIS issued by Scientific Review Group

December 1995 Panel completes EIS review, orders AECL to provide additional information by May 1996, but proceeds to public hearings in advance of that deadline, commencing in March

March 1996 Phase I Hearings "broad societal issues"

June 1996 Phase II Hearings "long term safety ... from scientific, technical and engineering viewpoints"

November 1996 Phase IIb Hearings

January - March 1997 Phase III Hearings "general sessions ... on the safety and acceptability of the AECL concept"

March 13 1998 Panel Report Issued rejecting the AECL "concept" and recommending an independent agency be created. The Seaborn Report, submitted to the federal Minister of the Environment and Minister of Natural Resources  said that "the concept of deep geological disposal had been, on balance, adequately demonstrated from a technical perspective but, from a social perspective, it had not".  It also indicated the concept lacked the required level of social acceptability to be adopted as Canada’s approach for the long-term management of nuclear fuel waste.  The Panel recommended the creation of an independent nuclear waste management agency to undertake a study of long-term nuclear waste management options.

December, 1998   Government "Response" Released rejecting key recommendations of Panel Report

February, 1999 Seven city "consultation, deadline for comment on Gov't response is February 28

April 2001 C-27 "Nuclear Fuel Waste Act" is introduced; draft Act rejects key recommendations of Panel Report

February 26, 2002 C-27 passed third reading in Parliament

June 13, 2002 "An Act "passed third reading the the Senate and is given Royal Assent

October 24, 2002  Ontario Power Generation vice-president announces that the NWMO has been created with Elizabeth Dowdeswell as president, and a board comprised solely of the nuclear industry (Ontario Power Generation, Hydro Quebec and New Brunswick Power)

October 25, 2002 Natural Resources Canada posts a news release announcing that "An Act" will come into affect on November 15th 2002

November 15, 2002    Nuclear Fuel Waste Act came into effect

January 29, 2003 NWMO launches its website "to support its mandate of investigating approaches for the long-term management of Canada's used nuclear fuel" at

November 28, 2003  NWMO publishes its first discussion document, “Asking the Right Questions?  Future Management of Canada’s Used Nuclear Fuel.”

September 15, 2004 NWMO  releases its second discussion document, Understanding the Choices.

May 24, 2005  NWMO published its recommendations in draft for comment and review, recommendation is to bury nuclear waste

November 15, 2005   deadline for the Nuclear Waste Management Organization to provide recommendation to the federal government; NWMO presented its report and recommendation of "Adaptive Phased Management" in November 2005

June 1, 2007 - the Nuclear Waste Management Organization launches the siting process for a nuclear waste repository with the release of "Moving Forward Together: Designing the Process for Selecting a Site"

June, 2007 - Government of Canada announces its selection of the NMWO's recommendatin of "Adaptive Phased Management" as the "best option for the long term management of nuclear fuel waste"

January 2008 - Nuclear Waste Management Organziation extends (and then cancels) invitations to consultation sessions on the siting process under development to identify a candidate location for the construction of an underground nuclear waste facility; sessions eventually  rescheduled to October 2008

January, 2009 - Ontario Power Generation contracts the Nuclear Waste Management Organziation to design, promote and manage the regulatory process for the development of the Deep Geologic Repository (DGR), an underground repository for low and intermediate level nuclear waste from Ontario's nuclear generating stations.

May 5, 2009 -  Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) releases its proposed process for  Selecting a Site for the long-term management of Canada's used nuclear fuel, holds "information sessions" across five provinces, including in northeastern Ontario

Late 2009 - NWMO anticipates finalizing siting process in late 2009

2010 - NWMO expected to launch site search in 2010

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