The Municipality of South Bruce and the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU). This agreement represents a key moment in the site selection process and is a springboard to creating a draft hosting agreement for Canada’s deep geological repository to safely isolate used nuclear fuel.
“This is an important moment in our ongoing partnership with the Municipality of South Bruce,” said Lise Morton, Vice-President of Site Selection at the NWMO. “Through this MOU, we are addressing local priorities and laying the groundwork for future agreements. Thank you to Council, municipal staff and the community for continuing to engage with the process as we celebrate this milestone and move towards site selection.”
The project will only move forward with informed and willing host communities, and if it is safe for people and the environment and provides benefits to the community. In South Bruce, the municipality established 36 guiding principles that reflect the community’s priorities and expectations. The MOU is a non-binding agreement that identifies how the NWMO will address the 36 guiding principles. It does not speak to the willingness of the community.
“Before we make any decisions on hosting the project, it’s important that we know it is safe for people and the environment. We also need to make sure it provides economic, social and financial benefits to our community,” said South Bruce Mayor Robert Buckle. “The MOU outlines how the NWMO is committed to our communities, as well as our priorities and expectations for the project. This includes having an ongoing voice as the DGR site is developed in the future.”
The MOU highlights commitments made by the NWMO, should the project be sited in South Bruce, including:
- Building a Centre of Expertise in South Bruce to house world-class science and innovation. This will be a collaborative process and include input from the community on the design, ensuring it conforms to commercial building standards in South Bruce.
- Engaging with the local community through a variety of opportunities to obtain community input on project aesthetics, particularly related to the project’s surface facilities, to support the natural and cultural beauty of South Bruce.
- Commitments to protecting property values, maintaining current topography whenever possible and keeping a low footprint.
- The NWMO and the municipality will investigate the potential of developing a trail system through NWMO-owned property, including a possible canoe and kayak launch site. Further, the NWMO will ensure continued access to the Teeswater River.
- The NWMO has committed to only managing used nuclear fuel from Canada in the repository and will not import used fuel from other countries.
- If South Bruce is selected, the NWMO is committed to continued funding of the municipal costs for hosting Canada’s deep geological repository.
- Staff and the NWMO’s head office will relocate to the siting area.
- The NWMO will mitigate construction and operation impacts, including noise, dust, road safety and safe passage for those around or near the site, including considerations for farm vehicles, horse-and-buggies, snowmobiles, ATVs, horseback riding and other modes of transportation.
- Safety remains a top priority. The NWMO is committed to protecting people and the environment through a variety of programs and initiatives.
Two areas remain in the site selection process. In northwestern Ontario, the Wabigoon Lake Ojibway Nation and the Township of Ignace will each have to demonstrate compelling willingness for the project to move forward. Similarly, in southern Ontario, the Saugeen Ojibway Nation and the Municipality of South Bruce must determine for themselves whether the project is a fit for their communities.
About the NWMO
The Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) is a not-for-profit organization tasked with the safe, long-term management of Canada’s used nuclear fuel inside a deep geological repository, in a manner that protects people and the environment for generations to come.
Founded in 2002, the NWMO has been guided for 20 years by a dedicated team of world-class scientists, engineers and Indigenous Knowledge Keepers that are developing innovative and collaborative solutions for nuclear waste management. 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 2024, and two areas remain in our site selection process: the Wabigoon Lake Ojibway Nation-Ignace area in northwestern Ontario and the Saugeen Ojibway Nation-South Bruce area in southern Ontario.