NWMO secures more land for repository studies

16 October 2020

Canada's Nuclear Waste Management Organisation (NWMO) has shared a map showing the potential deep geological repository site in South Bruce, Ontario. The organisation has now secured just over 1500 acres (600 hectares) of land to conduct its studies.

The map shows land under contract to NWMO and borehole locations (Image: NWMO)

South Bruce is one of two potential hosts in NWMO's site selection process for a deep geological repository for Canada’s used nuclear fuel. Earlier this year, the organisation announced it had signed agreements with landowners in South Bruce for 1300 acres; yesterday it said it has signed further agreements increasing this to 1500 acres. The agreements include a combination of option and purchase arrangements that allow NWMO to conduct studies while allowing landowners to continue using the land.

Mahrez Ben Belfadhel, Vice-President of Site Selection at NWMO, said this "important milestone" will allow site assessment work to continue as NWMO moves to identify a single, preferred location for a deep geological repository. "We will begin preparatory work for two exploratory boreholes in the near-term, and expect to begin drilling the first in April 2021. Discussions with local landowners in the vicinity of the potential site will continue over the coming months and years," he said.

In addition to borehole drilling and environmental baseline monitoring, NWMO said it will also continue to seek input and address questions from residents through open houses, exhibits, meetings and other engagement activities.

Of the total potential repository site, some 250 acres will be required for surface facilities, the specific location of which has not yet been determined. The remainder will continue to be used as it is today, NWMO said.

"A key part of the agreements with local land owners is to support local economic activity by ensuring farming will continue to be the primary economic activity on the site," Belfadhel said. "We're committed to protecting the environment and farmland, while also minimising disruption to local businesses."

As part of the land access process, NWMO has committed to develop, in consultation with the municipality of South Bruce, a programme to compensate property owners if property values are adversely affected by the project.

NWMO is a not-for-profit organisation which since 2002 has been responsible for the long-term management of the nation's used nuclear fuel. The two potential hosts for a deep geological repository - South Bruce and Ignace, which is in north-western Ontario -  were narrowed down from a list of 21 communities that had registered interest, in a long-term process called Adaptive Phase Management that was launched in 2010. Similar studies are also continuing in Ignace, and NWMO expects to identify a single, preferred site to host the project, in an area with informed and willing hosts, by 2023.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News