The NWMO's work to prepare for borehole drilling in South Bruce progressing well

aerial photograph of constructed site

An aerial photograph of constructed site and access for the first planned borehole, near Teeswater, Ontario.

The NWMO’s preparations for borehole drilling and testing in South Bruce are progressing well.

Northwest of Teeswater, construction has been completed at the first borehole site, and work is underway at the second borehole site with plans to complete it early in 2021. This work has the NWMO on track to start drilling the first borehole in the spring of 2021.

“Preparations to start borehole drilling in South Bruce in the spring of 2021 are progressing well,” said Geoff Crann, Manager, Site Services at the NWMO. “Construction of the first borehole site has been completed, and our contractor has started construction at the second borehole site. “

The first borehole site is located at Lot 23, Concession 8 and the second is at Lot 28/29, Concession 8.

The drilling schedule is aligned to ensure the NWMO collects important information to further understand the suitability of the site, while also allowing time to continue to engage and discuss with the local municipality and Indigenous communities.

“As we prepare to start drilling, we’re heartened by the ongoing interest from the local community,” Mr. Crann said. “We’re looking forward to starting drilling in the spring of 2021, and for the additional insight the core samples and downhole testing will add to our current understanding of the geology and hydrogeology of the area.”

Prior to the start of site construction, a number of preparatory activities were undertaken at both borehole sites, including:

  • an archaeological survey;
  • an environmental walk-over of the land;
  • a topographic survey;
  • cultural verification and ceremony by Saugeen Ojibway Nation;
  • a pre-drilling noise and emissions study;
  • and pre-drilling water-well sampling.

As part of other ongoing work, the NWMO is also reaching out to landholders in the area of the potential repository site to invite them to participate in additional baseline water well testing, and 3D seismic survey data acquisition. The seismic survey will be used to generate images of subsurface layers of rock. These studies can show whether layers are continuous or offset by faults.

In additional to preparations for borehole drilling and 3D seismic surveys, the NWMO is also preparing for other site assessment activities in the area planned for 2021. These include installing micro-seismic monitoring stations across the region (to monitor for seismic activity, such as low-magnitude earthquakes) and installing shallow groundwater monitoring wells to further study water in the area.

The NWMO continues to work with the local municipality, community members and local Indigenous communities as we advance our work. Canada’s plan will only proceed in an area with informed and willing hosts. South Bruce is one of two possible host areas remaining in the NWMO’s site selection process, the other is the Ignace area, in northwestern Ontario. The NWMO plans to select a site in 2023.

The NWMO is a non-profit organization tasked with the implementation of Canada’s plan for the safe, long-term storage of used nuclear fuel inside a deep geological repository in a manner that protects people and the environment.