February 2, 2004

National dialogue seeks input on long-term handling of used nuclear fuel

The Canadian Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) and the Canadian Policy Research Network (CPRN) are convening a national citizen's dialogue in 12 communities across Canada between January and March, 2004. The initiative is part of a research project to clarify Canadians' views and expectations for the long-term management of used nuclear fuel.

The NWMO study process includes workshops, panels, web-based activities and a range of other consultation methods to engage stakeholders, experts, aboriginal groups and other individuals and communities of interest. Dialogue participants, with the help of professional facilitators, will confront the difficult trade-offs and choices involved in determining a nuclear waste management approach for the future.

"Many people consider this to be a scientific or technical question," said NWMO president Elizabeth Dowdeswell. "But it's more than that. Ultimately Canada must adopt an integrated long-term nuclear waste management system that is built on sound science, is socially and ethically acceptable to Canadians, and reflects their values."

"Citizens need to be heard on important public policy issues," said Judith Maxwell, CPRN founder and president. "This dialogue provides an opportunity for people who do not belong to stakeholder groups to consider the long-term management of nuclear waste in a thoughtful and structured manner and to talk about what they value in determining a way forward."

Day-long dialogues took place in Ottawa and Montreal on January 24 and 25. They are continuing on subsequent weekends until March 27th in: Quebec City, Thunder Bay, Halifax, Moncton, Sudbury, Saskatoon, Calgary, Vancouver, London and Toronto.

The NWMO is committed to developing a nuclear waste management recommendation that is socially acceptable, environmentally responsible, technically sound and economically feasible. It is scheduled to complete its study and present its recommendation to the federal government by November 2005.

The CPRN is an independent, not-for-profit, public policy research organization dedicated to expanding knowledge and leading public debate on social and economic issues important to the well-being of Canadians.

More information is available from Michael Krizanc of the NWMO, 416/934-9814, E-mail mkrizanc@nwmo.ca, or Peter Puxley at the CPRN, 613/567-6665, E-mail ppuxley@cprn.org.

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