Borehole drilling, coring and testing is starting in the Ignace and South Bruce areas, both in Ontario. The drilling activities are part of scientific studies the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) is doing to evaluate the geology of the two potential siting areas for a deep geological repository for Canada’s used nuclear fuel.
Borehole drilling and testing is part of the NWMO’s broader continuing site investigation work to enhance our knowledge about whether the site can meet our robust regulatory requirements. Safety and security underscore everything we do at the NWMO, and our work is guided by the responsibility to protect people and the environment for future generations.
This is the first borehole the NWMO is drilling at the potential repository site in South Bruce. In the Ignace area, we have resumed work that began before the pandemic with the fourth borehole, and work is underway to set up the site in preparation for initiating drilling of the fifth borehole.
“Drilling of boreholes is one of the important ways that we collect information about the geology and underground setting,” said Sarah Hirschorn, Director of Geoscience at the NWMO. “It allows us to learn more about the rock and the water deep below ground at our potential repository sites.”
As part of the NWMO’s site selection process, we need to be sure that used nuclear fuel can be safely contained in the rock, underneath the surface, to ensure water is protected and people and the environment are safe. We are committed to working with communities, including municipal, First Nation and Métis communities, to only safely site this project in an area with informed and willing hosts.
Once borehole drilling and testing is complete, the NWMO will share progress and findings with community members. For our borehole drilling and testing programs in Ignace and South Bruce, the field activities can take up to nine months per borehole.
About the NWMO
The NWMO is a not-for-profit organization tasked with the safe, long-term storage of Canada’s used nuclear fuel in a manner that protects people and the environment for generations to come.
We are implementing Canada’s plan to safely isolate and contain used nuclear fuel inside a deep geological repository. The plan is based on years of public input, Indigenous Knowledge, international scientific consensus and best practices from around the world.
Canada’s plan will only proceed in an area with informed and willing hosts, where the municipality, First Nation and Métis communities, and others in the area are working together to implement it. The NWMO plans to select a site in 2023, and two areas remain in our site selection process: the Ignace area and South Bruce, both in Ontario.
Transparent and accountable, the NWMO works in close cooperation with communities, all levels of government, national and international regulators, Indigenous peoples, industry, academia, and civil society organizations.