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In 1996, the Canadian Government established a Policy Framework for Radioactive Waste. In this policy, waste owners are responsible for funding, organizing, managing, and operating nuclear waste facilities, and the government is responsible for overseeing the activities of the waste owners. The Nuclear Fuel Waste Act, passed in 2002, established the Nuclear Waste Management Organization as the organization responsible developing, in collaboration with Canadians, an approach for the long-term management of nuclear waste that is socially acceptable, technically sound, environmentally responsible, and economically feasible.

In 2005, the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) recommended the Adaptive Phased Management approach for establishing a repository. The NWMO began its process in May 2010 with a broad program to provide information, answer questions and build awareness among Canadians about the project and siting process. Twenty one communities expressed interest in learning more, and the “expression of interest” phase closed on September 30, 2012. A preliminary assessment of potential suitability for each of the 21 communities is currently ongoing.