Wabigoon Lake Ojibway Nation-Ignace area

The Wabigoon Lake Ojibway Nation-Ignace area in northwestern Ontario is one of two potential host areas for Canada’s plan for the safe, long-term management of used nuclear fuel.
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Site selection activities

In 2010, the community of Ignace initiated the area’s involvement in the site selection process by formally expressing interest. The project will only move forward in an area with interested communities, along with First Nation, Métis and surrounding communities, working together to implement it.
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Committed to safety in the Wabigoon Lake Ojibway Nation-Ignace area

Protecting people and the environment, including water, is our highest priority and drives everything we do. Learn why we’re confident that the WLON-Ignace area could safely host Canada’s deep geological repository, based on decades of scientific research, international scientific consensus and best practices for managing used nuclear fuel.
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Generations of possibilities

The WLON-Ignace area is a region of small but passionate communities, all ready for long-term growth. Learn about the potential benefits and impacts the project may have on the area, including employment and economic growth, expanded community services and more.
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Ignace Community Nuclear Liaison Committee (ICNLC)

Community liaison committees act as a resource for communities involved in the site selection process. Set up by municipal councils, independent of the NWMO and comprised of residents from the area, these working groups help community members learn more about Canada’s plan for managing used nuclear fuel and reflect on interest in hosting the project in the area. 

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Frequently asked questions

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What is used nuclear fuel?
Used nuclear fuel is a by-product of electricity generation by nuclear power plants. Canadian nuclear power plants are fuelled by uranium pellets that are sealed inside zirconium tubes and arranged into fuel bundles.

Once a fuel bundle has been used to generate electricity, it is highly radioactive and must be carefully managed for a very long period of time, essentially indefinitely.

Used nuclear fuel in Canada is safely managed on an interim basis in licensed facilities at nuclear reactor sites. The NWMO is responsible for its long-term management.
Can used nuclear fuel be transported safely?
Transportation of radioactive material is a well-established practice. Over 50 years, there have been more than 20,000 shipments worldwide of used nuclear fuel, using road, rail and water transport. Canada has proven, and continues to demonstrate, its ability to safely transport used fuel, with hundreds of shipments made since the 1960s.
Are the storage containers tested to ensure they won't leak?
The repository storage containers are part of a series of engineered and natural barriers that will work together to contain and isolate used nuclear fuel in the deep geological repository. They are made of thick, solid steel and welded shut. The steel provides the mechanical strength to withstand the pressures of the overlying rock and future glaciations. The outermost layer of the container consists of corrosion-resistant copper coating.

The containers will undergo non-destructive examination using ultrasonic (high-frequency sound waves that can characterize thickness and internal structure) as well as surface testing to ensure there are no flaws in the weld or copper coating, confirming there are no leaks.
Are there any preferable regions for a repository?

No preferred regions or areas have been identified. Studies are conducted only in areas where a community expressed interest in the project.

The safety of people and the environment is the top priority in the process for selecting a site for a deep geological repository. Any site that is selected to host this facility must be demonstrated to be able to safely contain and isolate used nuclear fuel for a very long period of time.


The project must also be implemented in a way that helps foster well-being or quality of life in the area. The project will only proceed with the involvement of the interested community, First Nation and Métis communities in the area, and surrounding communities working together to implement it.

Would earthquakes affect the repository?
Earthquakes are one of several factors to be examined in the repository site evaluation process.

The preferred site will be selected in an area where current and future earthquake (seismic) activity will not impact the safety of the repository during the operational phase or over the very long term.

Addressing the potential impact of earthquakes would involve the following considerations:
  • History of seismic activity
  • Presence of major faults or fractures;
  • Evidence of rock displacement along old faults;
  • Groundwater chemistry that can provide evidence of stability over long periods; and
  • Rock strength.

The repository will be sited in an area with low seismic activity, but will be designed to withstand large magnitude earthquakes.

How will the NWMO protect people, the environment, farmland and local watersheds?

The NWMO is using best environmental practices to ensure the project is implemented in a way that protects people, agricultural lands, watersheds and sensitive ecological environments.

We are partnering with landowners, conservation authorities and other interested organizations to lead baseline and research studies to understand the ecological systems in the area, including surface water, groundwater, soil, air, wetlands, animals and species at risk. These studies will inform our work as we mitigate or eliminate potential adverse impacts of the project using technologies and operational best practices.

There will be a continuous monitoring of the natural environment throughout all phases of the project, including open and transparent reporting and information sharing.

This project will also be subject to a thorough regulatory review process, including an environmental assessment and a licensing review to ensure that it is implemented in a manner that protects people and the environment. In our planning timelines, we currently anticipate that the regulatory review process will take approximately 10 years.

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Canada's plan

Selecting a site
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Study areas

Activities in the Wabigoon Lake Ojibway Nation-Ignace area