NWMO to select Canadian repository site this year

April 26, 2024, 12:03PMRadwaste Solutions
An illustration of a planned deep geologic repository for Canada’s spent nuclear fuel. (Image: NWMO)

Canada’s Nuclear Waste Management Organization, a not-for-profit organization responsible for the long-term management of the country’s intermediate- and high-level radioactive waste, is set to select a site for a deep geologic repository by the end of the year.

Two Ontario communities are being considered as potential host sites: the Municipality of South Bruce in southeastern Ontario and Ignace in the province’s northwest. The two sites were chosen from 22 communities that initially expressed interest when the NWMO began its site selection process in 2010.

Current developments: South Bruce is to hold a referendum on the repository project on October 28, CTV News reported on April 24. If 50 percent of residents turn out to vote and more than 50 percent vote “yes,” the municipality will declare itself a willing host for the repository, according to the report.

The township of Ignace is currently conducting a survey of its residents to gauge their willingness to host the repository. The results of that survey will be considered by the Ignace township council, which will then decide the issue. In a public statement released on April 22, Ignace mayor Kim Baigrie and the council said they could not stress enough the significance of the repository project to the community.

“As an elected and representative body of the people of the Township of Ignace, we are obligated and dedicated to move forward on this project at the will of the people. This means that if the majority of this community wants to move forward as a willing potential host community, this council will honor that decision, as it will if the majority of the community does not,” said Baigrie.

The Wabigoon Lake Ojibway Nation will also need to indicate their willingness to host the repository in Ignace before it is approved. Likewise, South Bruce will need the approval of the Saugeen Ojibway Nation before that site can be accepted.

She said it: In a statement released on April 23, NWMO president and chief executive officer Laurie Swami said, “As we move toward this crucial step, I want to reflect on the importance of collaboration. We could not have gotten to where we are today without the leadership and dedication to learning shown by the people in potential host communities. The process to select a site has always been community driven, and that has never been more important than in this year, as each community decides whether it wants to host the deep geological repository.”

To support the two potential host communities in their decision-making, Swami noted that the NWMO recently released its updated Confidence in Safety reports, which support the organization’s conclusion that it is confident that a deep geologic repository can be constructed at either site.

The NWMO also released on March 26 its annual report for 2023, which outlines the organization’s accomplishments over the past year.

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