Leaders from the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) are visiting local municipal councils in Huron-Kinloss and South Bruce this week to provide an update on the site selection process and how we are working together to build partnerships.
Mahrez Ben Belfadhel, Vice-President of Site Selection at the NWMO, is addressing local leaders about the NWMO’s plans to work with communities towards partnership agreements and advance the site selection process. He is also introducing the process for working with people in the area to identify a potential repository site for further study.
“Accessing land will allow us to complete important studies in the area,” said Mr. Ben Belfadhel. “Working with landowners through the Land Access Process will allow us to ensure we can gather sufficient land for a repository site to complete important studies in the area. This work could include environmental monitoring, borehole drilling and other site investigation work such as Indigenous cultural verification.”
Under the Land Access Process, the NWMO is asking landowners to consider signing option agreements with the NWMO that will allow us to conduct site investigation, and potentially, if the site is later selected, to purchase the site.
In total, the NWMO is looking to access approximately 1,500 acres (600 hectares) from one or several landowners in the area. This would accommodate the size of the underground facilities, which would be about 1,500 acres (600 hectares), and leave lots of room for surface facilities, which will only take up about 250 acres (100 hectares).
“It is important to note the Land Access Process is not an indication the NWMO has selected a site,” Mr. Ben Belfadhel added. “Instead, it is about working with landowners, municipalities, Indigenous communities, and others in the area to determine if we can identify and assemble an appropriate site for a repository that can be considered with the community and be a foundation for a partnership agreement in the future.”
The NWMO’s preference at this time is to sign option agreements with landowners to allow us to assemble sufficient land and complete our studies.
Huron-Kinloss and South Bruce are not the only areas where the NWMO is working with communities to access land and conduct site investigations. Similar work is underway in other siting areas as well, although the process for accessing land is slightly different as the potential repository sites near Ignace, Hornepayne and Manitouwadge are located on Crown land.
While the NWMO continues to engage the Saugeen Ojibway Nation, other Indigenous communities, and local municipalities, the rollout of land access does not suggest they have provided their support for this process or the siting of the repository in this area. Canada’s plan will only be implemented with the involvement of municipalities, First Nation and Métis communities, and others in the area. Several more years of work are required before a single preferred site can be identified.