OPG terminates environmental assessment process for repository

29 June 2020

Ontario Power Generation (OPG) has formally withdrawn its site preparation and construction licence application for a deep geologic repository (DGR) for low and intermediate-level waste at the Bruce nuclear site. It has also terminated the federal environmental assessment process for the repository.

The DGR would have seen waste emplaced in dry, impermeable rock 680 metres below the surface (Image: OPG)

The withdrawals come as OPG upholds its 2013 commitment to the Saugeen Ojibway Nation (SON) not to proceed with the DGR without the Nation's support. The SON in January voted against plans for the DGR in its territory.

Canadian Minister of the Environment and Climate Change Jonathan Wilkinson has now accepted OPG's request, submitted on 27 May, to withdraw the project and terminate the environmental assessment, the company said. Separately, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission said the company had withdrawn its licence application to prepare a site for and construct the repository at the site in Kincardine, Ontario.

The planned repository would have been built 680 metres below the Bruce site and would have been used for low and intermediate-level waste from OPG-owned generating stations at Pickering, Darlington and Bruce, currently in storage at OPG's Western Waste Management Facility. Used nuclear fuel in Canada is destined for a separate DGR. The process to identify by 2023 a single, preferred location for such a repository, with informed and willing hosts, is being undertaken by Canada's Nuclear Waste Management Organisation.

Termination of the federal environmental assessment does not limit the future application of federal environmental assessment legislation should OPG, or any other proponent, propose this or a similar project at a future date, Wilkinson said.

OPG has engaged since 2004 with SON, which comprises two First Nation communities, the Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation and the Chippewas of Saugeen First Nation. OPG also continues to engage with the Métis Nation of Ontario and Historic Saugeen Métis concerning waste operations at the Bruce site. The company has previously said it remains committed to developing an alternate solution for the safe and permanent disposal of the radioactive waste from its plants, and that any new process would include engagement with Indigenous peoples as well as interested municipalities.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News