Canada updates policy on radioactive waste and decommissioning

The Government of Canada is releasing a modernized version of its Policy for Radioactive Waste and Decommissioning for this country. The aim […]
Once Canada’s premier uranium production region, Elliot Lake, Ont., is home to several examples of successfully managed radioactive wastes. Adobe Stock photo

The Government of Canada is releasing a modernized version of its Policy for Radioactive Waste and Decommissioning for this country. The aim is to align the Canadian policy with international standards and best practices that reflect the values and principles of Canadians. 

This updated policy is the result of more than two years of extensive engagement with Indigenous Peoples, interested Canadians, experts, waste generators and owners, and other levels of government. In February 2022, the federal government opened the draft policy for public comment and incorporated feedback in finalized version. 

This modernized policy elaborates on the original policy framework published in 1996 and affirms Canada's continued commitment to reconciliation. It also highlights the importance of recognizing Indigenous rights and knowledge, engaging early and continuously, building capacity and working together in partnership on radioactive waste management. The policy also commits to ensuring alignment with, and supporting, the government's implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.  

The policy also includes measures that support an integrated strategy for Canada's radioactive waste and the importance of considering future generations when making decisions. 

Radioactive waste management refers to all activities involved in the handling, pre-treatment, treatment, waste minimization, transport, storage, and disposal of radioactive waste. All but 0.5% of the radioactive waste in Canada is classified as low- and intermediate-level waste. An independent audit conducted in 2022 found that Natural Resources Canada, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, and Atomic Energy of Canada are effectively managing these wastes.

The full text of the updated policy will be accessible online in the coming days on the federal government’s Public consultations and engagements website. 

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