Skip to main content

e-4852 (Natural resources and energy)

Initiated by Brennain Lloyd from North Bay, Ontario

Original language of petition: English

Petition to the Government of Canada

  • The Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) has been engaged since 2010 in a multi-step process to site a deep geological repository to emplace the high-level nuclear (irradiated fuel) waste from all of Canada’s nuclear power reactors;
  • The NWMO project will involve the transportation, processing, burial and abandonment of an estimated seven million bundles of radioactive waste over a 50-year period which would be extended by additional reactor construction or refurbishments;
  • The NWMO has repeatedly stated that it will not proceed without an “informed and willing” community;
  • There are scientific and public concerns about the risks of radioactive exposures along the transportation route and in the region of and downstream from the repository site under both normal operating and accident conditions;
  • The Government of Canada has affirmed the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples which sets out that no storage or disposal of hazardous materials shall take place in the lands or territories of Indigenous peoples without their free, prior and informed consent (Article 29); and
  • Canadian law recognizes that every individual in Canada has a right to a healthy environment (CEPA 2023).
We, the undersigned, citizens, residents and Indigenous peoples of Canada, call upon the Government of Canada to require the Nuclear Waste Management Organization to demonstrate that it has the consent of residents and communities, including First Nations and Treaty Organizations, along the transportation route and in the region of and downstream of the candidate repository site(s) before selecting a site.

Response by the Minister of Energy and Natural Resources

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, P.C., M.P.

The Government of Canada is committed to the safe, effective, and environmentally-sound management of radioactive waste. Advancing reconciliation with Indigenous peoples and protecting the health and safety of Canadians and the environment are overarching priorities when it comes to nuclear energy and radioactive waste. This multigenerational commitment to safety includes the necessity of responsibly managing all radioactive waste in line with world-class safety measures. In addition, the Government of Canada recognizes the unique status and rights of Indigenous Peoples in Canada and is committed to upholding the principles of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (the UN Declaration) by implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act in consultation and cooperation with Indigenous Peoples. The Government of Canada’s commitments with regards to radioactive waste management are further reinforced in Canada's Policy on Radioactive Waste Management and Decommissioning.  

The Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) was established in 2002 as a requirement of the Nuclear Fuel Waste Act to implement Canada’s plan for the long-term management of nuclear fuel waste. This plan, called Adaptive Phased Management, was selected by the Governor in Council in 2007 and involves centralized containment and isolation of used nuclear fuel in a deep geological repository in an area with suitable geology and a willing and informed host community. The International Atomic Energy Agency considers deep disposal in a suitable geological formation as a sustainable and safe manner to manage high-level radioactive waste such as used nuclear fuel.  Countries like Finland have already demonstrated the feasibility of this approach and have advanced the construction of the Deep Geological Repository (DGR).

Since 2010, the NWMO has been advancing the Adaptive Phased Management plan through a rigorous site selection process where they have been engaging with interested communities, including Indigenous peoples, performing site assessments, and undertaking substantive research and development. Since starting with 22 communities in their ‘learn-more’ process, the NWMO has gradually narrowed their focus to two potential siting areas, and expects to announce the selection of a preferred and willing host community by the end of 2024. In parallel to its site selection process, the NWMO has been leading an ongoing public dialogue to integrate feedback on its transportation planning framework to ensure it reflects the publics’ priorities and addresses concerns.  

The deep geological repository project will be subject to a regulatory review process once a site is selected.  This includes licensing under the Nuclear Safety and Control Act throughout the project’s lifecycle by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC). The regulatory review process will also include an impact assessment by an integrated review panel under the Impact Assessment Act - subject to the proposed amendments in Bill C-69. These regulatory processes will provide further opportunities for public engagement and consultation.  

Both the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada (IAAC) and the CNSC are committed to conducting meaningful consultations with Indigenous peoples and groups whenever the Government’s decisions or conduct may adversely impact Aboriginal or treaty rights protected under section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982. Throughout the impact assessment and the lifecycle review of nuclear projects and activities, the IAAC and the CNSC perform meaningful consultations, engagements and collaboration with affected Indigenous communities.  

The Government of Canada is also committed to implementing the objectives of the UN Declaration. The Impact Assessment Act includes requirements to consult and assess potential environmental effects that a designated project may have on Indigenous Peoples, as well as any adverse impacts on the rights of Indigenous Peoples. Elements of the impact assessment process, such as early and regular engagement and the mandatory consideration of Indigenous knowledge, support the Government of Canada’s aim to secure free, prior, and informed consent.  

As Canada’s independent nuclear regulator, the CNSC ensures that its consultation and engagement activities are consistent with the principles of the UN Declaration. The CNSC’s consultation and engagement activities help Indigenous peoples and their communities build capacity to effectively participate in the CNSC’s regulatory processes and Commission proceedings through the provision of funding through the CNSC’s funding programs as well as long-term relationship building.  

The CNSC has multiple licensing phases (i.e., licence to prepare site, construct, operate and decommission) to ensure that the Commission can consider all necessary information prior to granting the applicable licences, including input from the public and Indigenous peoples. The CNSC will not allow projects for the long-term management of radioactive waste to proceed unless it determines that these activities are safe for human health and the environment, for now and future generations, and meet Canada’s legal and international obligations. With regards to transportation, the CNSC jointly regulates the transportation of used nuclear fuel with Transport Canada and the NWMO will need to demonstrate to these authorities the safety and security of its transportation system and meet all federal, provincial, and local safety requirements. 

Since 2007, the NWMO has been leading the way with its commitment to moving forward with a site for Canada’s deep geological repository with the consent of the local Indigenous community and municipality. The NWMO continues to make positive progress in fulfilling its mandate to implement Canada’s plan for the safe, long-term management of used nuclear fuel. As central to the selected Adaptive Phased Management approach, the NWMO will continue engaging with the public and Indigenous peoples through all phases of the project and reporting on these activities publicly under the Nuclear Fuel Waste Act. The NWMO’s most recent annual report can be found here: Annual Report 2023 | Annual Report (

Open for signature
March 4, 2024, at 1:19 p.m. (EDT)
Closed for signature
May 3, 2024, at 1:19 p.m. (EDT)
Presented to the House of Commons
Anthony Rota (Nipissing—Timiskaming)
May 9, 2024 (Petition No. 441-02467)
Government response tabled
June 19, 2024
Photo - Anthony Rota
Liberal Caucus