Canada narrows repository site search

26 June 2017

The communities of Central Huron and White River will no longer be considered as a potential host for a deep geological repository for Canada's used nuclear fuel, the Nuclear Waste Management Organisation (NWMO) has announced. The NWMO is working to identify an acceptable site for the repository under a long-term process called Adaptive Phase Management. In 2010 it launched a two-phase preliminary assessment process to narrow down study areas from a list of communities that had registered interest.

The communities of Central Huron and White River formally expressed their interest in the project in 2012, triggering the first phase of studies to explore the potential suitability of their geology. White River passed the first phase - confirming that the community "appeared to have strong potential for meeting strict safety and geotechnical requirements, and for the project to align with its long-term vision" - in January 2015. Central Huron passed the first phase in October that year.

Several years of more detailed study and engagement have been carried out at both communities, but the NWMO has now announced they will no longer be considered as a potential host. Although they had shown interest in the project, the NWMO said it had not been able to expand interest or learning to "the level needed to give sufficient confidence to advance geotechnical studies in their immediate vicinities". Both communities will still play an active role in the process as siting activities continue in nearby communities, the NWMO said.

"As we work toward identifying a single preferred site, we need to increasingly focus on specific locations that have strong potential to meet safety requirements and a foundation for sustained interest in exploring the project," Mahrez Ben Belfadhel, NWMO's vice-president of site selection, said. "Central Huron and White River have each made a significant contribution on behalf of Canadians to this project, and their continued leadership will be invaluable as we work together to plan next steps in their regions."

Twenty-one communities, all in Ontario or Saskatchewan, initially requested preliminary assessments. Of the 11 areas selected for Phase 2 studies, six now remain: Blind River and Elliot Lake; Ignace; Hornepayne; Huron-Kinloss; Manitouwadge; and South Bruce.

The NWMO said it will "continue the process of narrowing down potential sites to host the project until it arrives at one preferred safe and socially acceptable site as the focus of more detailed site characterisation".

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News