TORONTO — Canada’s Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) has announced it has signed agreements with landowners in South Bruce, Ont., that will allow access to lands in preparation for the possible establishment of a future contained storage site for used nuclear fuel.
The NWMO was established in 2002 by Canada’s nuclear electricity producers with the mandate to design and implement a plan for the long-term management of the used fuel. In 2007 the agency selected a plan known as Adaptive Phased Management that includes disposal of the fuel in a deep engineered containment space. The search for a suitable containment and isolation site in a geological repository in an area with “suitable geology and an informed and willing host,” as the NWMO website explains, is now down to two sites including South Bruce.
Ignace, Ont. is the other site, noted a Jan. 24 release.
The land access process was initiated in May 2019. Since then, the NWMO worked with local landowners to aggregate nearly 1,300 acres of land northwest of Teeswater, Ont. The agreements include a combination of option and purchase arrangements that allow the NWMO to conduct studies and landowners to continue using the land, in some cases through leaseback arrangements. If the site is selected to host the repository, the NWMO would purchase the optioned land.
The NWMO will continue discussions with landowners in the vicinity of the potential site over the coming months and years to further aggregate additional land in the area to form a site of approximately 1,500 acres. The NWMO plan is to identify a single, preferred site to host the project by 2023.
“We are heartened by the strong interest shown by local landowners in each municipality,” said Mahrez Ben Belfadhel, NWMO vice-president of site selection, in the release. “With agreements in place and access to land in South Bruce, we expect to begin studies such as borehole drilling and baseline environmental monitoring in the coming months to assess the suitability of the area.”