Canadian repository search homes in on two sites

27 November 2019

Canada's search for a site to host a deep geological repository for its used nuclear fuel has been narrowed down to two potential locations in Ontario, the Nuclear Waste Management Organisation announced yesterday. NWMO is working to identify an acceptable site for the repository under a long-term process called Adaptive Phase Management.

Borehole drilling in the Ignace area (Image: NWMO)

Twenty-one communities, all in Ontario or Saskatchewan, initially requested preliminary assessments and six locations had remained under consideration: Blind River and Elliot Lake; Ignace; Hornepayne; Huron-Kinloss; Manitouwadge; and South Bruce. Huron-Kinloss and South Bruce in southern Ontario and Ignace in northwestern Ontario will continue to be considered potential host areas for the project, NWMO has now said, while Hornepayne and Manitouwadge in northern Ontario will no longer be considered.

"As we work towards identifying a single, preferred location for this project, in an area with informed and willing hosts, we need to increasingly focus on specific locations that have strong potential to meet the project's safety and partnership requirements," said Mahrez Ben Belfadhel, NWMO vice president of site selection.

In the remaining locations, the next steps will include working with municipal and indigenous communities to conduct progressively more detailed technical site evaluations and social studies, NWMO said.

The timeline for selecting a repository site will be determined by potential host communities, but NWMO expects to have a repository operating by 2035. Used fuel transportation, handling and placement in the repository will occur over 40 years or more, depending on the inventory of used fuel to be managed. The repository will then be monitored for an extended period before decommissioning, closure and post-closure monitoring.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News