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There’s a lot of work in South Bruce to understand water resources. What exactly are you testing for?

Response

Last updated 12/2/2021

Protecting water, people and the environment is so important to the NWMO – it is at the core of what we do and a connection we share with Canadians and Indigenous peoples. And understanding water, its quality, its memory, and where it’s flowing is essential for us to be able to make good decisions as we do our work.

In July 2021, the NWMO partnered with Saugeen Valley Conservation Authority (SVCA) to research water resources in the South Bruce area. The information collected will help the NWMO and SVCA make future project decisions to protect water.

The program will monitor water flow and collect surface water samples in rivers, lakes and wetlands throughout the Teeswater River and the Beatty Saugeen River subwatersheds.

The water samples will be submitted to CALA-certified laboratories for analysis. They will test for:

  • General water quality
  • Existing local industries
  • Potential contaminants

Here is what the water will be tested for:

Tier 1: Natural Radionuclides

Tritium, Carbon-14, Strontium-90, Iodine-129, Cesium-137 [and associated Cobalt-60, Ruthenium-106], gross-α, gross-β

Tier 2: Natural Radionuclides

Uranium-238, Uranium-234, Uranium-235, Potassium-40, Thorium-228, Thorium-230, Thorium-232, Radium-226

Tier 2: Artificial Radionuclides

Chlorine-36, Cobalt-60, Selenium-79, Ruthenium-106, Neptunium-237, Plutonium-238, Plutonium-239, Plutonium-240, Plutonium-241 Americium-241, Curium-244

Metals

Aluminum, Antimony, Arsenic, Barium, Beryllium, Bismuth, Boron, Cadmium, Cesium, Chromium (total, trivalent, hexavalent), Cobalt, Copper, Iron, Lead, Lithium, Mercury, Manganese, Molybdenum, Nickel, Rhodium, Ruthenium, Samarium, Selenium, Silver, Strontium, Thallium, Tin, Titanium, Uranium, Vanadium, Zinc, Zirconium

Organics

Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, Volatile Organic Compounds, Semi-Volatile Organic Compounds, Petroleum Hydrocarbons, Dioxins and Furans, Polychlorinated biphenyls (Total), Organochlorine pesticides

Nutrients and General Chemistry

Alkalinity, Bicarbonate, Bromide, Calcium, Carbonate, Chloride, Cyanide, Fluoride, Hydroxide, Magnesium, pH, Potassium, Sodium, Specific Conductivity, Sulphate, Sum of Ions, Total Dissolved Solids (TDS), Total Hardness, Total Suspended Solids (TSS), Turbidity, Ammonia as Nitrogen, Nitrate + Nitrite, Nitrate (NO3), Total Organic Carbon (TOC), Total Inorganic Carbon (TIC), Dissolved Organic Carbon (DOC), Phosphorus, Total Kjeldahl Nitrogen (TKN), Chlorophyll-a, Biological Oxygen Demand (BOD), Total Coliforms, E. coli

 

 

Protecting water

More about Water, Environment, Safety and Security, APM

How will drinking water resources be protected?

Response

Last updated 10/24/2022

The entire purpose of the project is to protect people and the environment, including drinking water sources. This commitment is reflected in our Guiding Principles for site selection which were developed in conversation with Canadians and Indigenous peoples. Water protection is embedded in everything that we do.

At the depth of the proposed deep geological repository there is very little water and what there is, moves very slowly.  This rock has essentially been disconnected from the water on the surface - including drinking water - for millions or even billions of years.

The rock also acts as a natural barrier and is one part of the multiple barrier system to contain and isolate the used nuclear fuel within the repository from the very limited amount of water in the rock and the surrounding environment.

Water ProtectionSafety Protecting People and the Environment

More about Water, Environment, Safety and Security, Site Selection

How is the NWMO protecting local watersheds?

Response

Last updated 10/24/2022

The entire purpose of Canada’s plan for the safe, long-term management of used nuclear fuel is to protect people and the environment, including watersheds, for generations to come.

Watersheds are areas of land that drain or “shed” water into a specific body of water.

To protect watersheds, we are partnering with landowners, conservation authorities and other interested organizations to lead baseline and research studies to understand the natural ecological system in the area, including surface water, groundwater, soil, air, wetlands, and animals and species at risk. These studies will inform our work as we mitigate or eliminate potential adverse impacts of the project using technologies and operational best practices.

Some of these studies and research include:

  • The impact of climate change to factor it into the design of the repository. Climate change is expected to cause an increase in precipitation which can impact the watershed resulting in flooding or other extreme climate events.
  • Installing shallow groundwater monitoring wells as part of our borehole drilling activities in the siting communities to help us understand the geology and groundwater systems in the first 100 metres below the surface.
  • Sampling of water from lakes and rivers, helps us to understand how water flows from watersheds into those bodies of water and how it and interacts with the surrounding environment

There will be continuous monitoring of the natural environment throughout all phases of the project, including open and transparent reporting and information sharing.

And, over the long term, watersheds and the surrounding environment will be protected by the multiple barrier system that will contain and isolate used nuclear fuel in the repository.

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

Water ProtectionSafety Protecting People and the Environment

More about Water, Environment, Safety and Security, Site Selection

What happens if used nuclear fuel is exposed to water?

Response

Last updated 10/24/2022

The entire purpose of Canada's plan – the reason we are investing time effort and money to implement it – is to protect people and the environment, including water.

Used nuclear fuel is a stable solid material. Fuel pellets are made from uranium dioxide powder, baked in a furnace to produce a hard, high-density ceramic. Like all ceramics, this material does not readily dissolve in water.

Even so, in the proposed repository, used nuclear fuel will be isolated far away from water using a series of engineered and natural barriers called the multiple barrier system. The system is designed to keep the used nuclear fuel in and water out so the two do not come into contact with each other.

Water ProtectionSafety Protecting People and the Environment

More about Water, Environment, Safety and Security, Site Selection

How will isolating used nuclear fuel 500 metres below the surface protect water from contamination?

Response

Last updated 10/24/2022

Protecting water is a connection we share with Canadians and Indigenous peoples because we all have a personal relationship with water. The entire purpose of Canada’s plan for the safe, long-term management of used nuclear fuel is to protect people and the environment, including water, for generations to come.

At the depth of the proposed deep geological repository, there is very little water.  This rock has essentially been disconnected from the water on the surface for millions or even billions of years. The rock also acts as a natural barrier and is one part of the multiple barrier system to contain and isolate the used nuclear fuel within the repository from the very limited amount of water in the rock and the surrounding environment.

Water ProtectionSafety Protecting People and the Environment

More about Water, Environment, Safety and Security, Site Selection

How will the NWMO protect people, the environment, farmland, and local watersheds?

Response

Last updated 8/10/2021

The NWMO is using best environmental practices to ensure the project is implemented in a way that protects people, agricultural lands and sensitive environmental areas such as watersheds and sensitive ecological environments. 

We are partnering with landowners, conservation authorities and other interested organizations to lead baseline and research studies to understand the natural ecological system in the area, including surface water, groundwater, soil, air, wetlands, and animals and species at risk. These studies will inform our work as we mitigate or eliminate potential adverse impacts of the project using technologies and operational best practices.

There will be a continuous monitoring of the natural environment throughout all phases of the project, including open and transparent reporting and information sharing.

This project will also be subject to a thorough regulatory review process, including an environmental assessment and a licensing review to ensure that it is implemented in a manner that protects people and the environment. In our planning timelines, we are currently anticipating that the regulatory review process will take approximately 10 years.

Transportation Planning

More about Environment, Safety and Security, Water

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