Next phase in South Bruce focuses on safety and protecting the environment

Water sampling

Water sampling will be one of the elements included in the environmental baseline monitoring program we will co-create with community members in South Bruce.

Environmental baseline monitoring, borehole drilling and conversations to develop a shared vision for Canada’s plan are key activities taking place in South Bruce as the community considers hosting a deep geological repository for used nuclear fuel. Dr. Ben Belfadhel, Vice President of Site Selection at the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) delivered an update to South Bruce Council on May 26 to share plans on next steps in South Bruce.

The NWMO is planning to begin field studies later this year at the potential repository site to determine whether it meets the project’s robust safety requirements. That work includes borehole drilling, geophysical studies, environmental monitoring, and other site investigation work such as Indigenous cultural verification. As planning progresses over the coming months, the NWMO will engage with the community and share information on planned field activities. All activities will be implemented in a way that is mindful of public health provisions related to COVID-19.

“The NWMO will need to demonstrate that any site selected can safely contain and isolate used nuclear fuel for a very long period of time,” said Dr. Ben Belfadhel, Vice President of Site Selection.  “This approach is consistent with international best practice and is the culmination of more than 30 years of scientific developments and technology demonstration.”

This project will also be subject to a thorough regulatory review process, including an impact assessment and a licensing review to ensure that it is implemented in a manner that protects people and the environment. 

“The environment baseline monitoring program will be designed with the involvement of the community,” noted Dr. Belfadhel “We know that protecting the environment and water is a priority for the residents of South Bruce and that’s why we will co-create a shared environmental monitoring program with the community.”

The geological and environmental data from field studies along with engineering design studies, safety assessment analyses and Indigenous knowledge will help build the confidence that deep geological repository can be developed with a strong safety case. A safety case brings together all the information that contribute to understanding whether or not a repository at the site could safely contain and isolate used nuclear fuel. 

In parallel to the technical investigations, the NWMO is working with the community to plan well-being studies to ensure that the project can be implemented in a manner that is responsive to community members’ concerns, objectives and aspirations.

The Municipality of South Bruce also shared the summary report at the May 26 council meeting from the project visioning workshops held earlier this year. These workshops explored the community’s expectations for the project if it were to be located in South Bruce and also aimed to understand the community’s vision for the Centre of Expertise. The Municipality of South Bruce is leading a four-week public comment period on the draft summary report. Please visit the Municipality Website for more information.

South Bruce is one of two potential hosts in the site selection process for a deep geological repository and associated facilities, including a Centre of Expertise – the NWMO announced in November 2019 that studies are also continuing in the area of Ignace, in northwestern Ontario. The NWMO expects to identify a single, preferred site to host the project, in an area with informed and willing hosts, by 2023.