Selecting a site

Preparations are underway for borehole drilling in South Bruce


The NWMO plans to start the drilling of the first of two deep boreholes in South Bruce in the spring of 2021.

November 19, 2020

South Bruce, Ont.


The NWMO plans to start the drilling of the first of two deep boreholes in South Bruce in the spring of 2021.

The NWMO plans to drill two deep boreholes in the South Bruce area prior to site selection. Borehole drilling, coring and testing is an important part of the NWMO’s technical site evaluation work that helps to build understanding of geosphere (rock and water) underground at a potential site for deep geological repository for Canada’s used nuclear fuel. This work contributes to our ability to assess if the site will be a safe location for the repository.

We are currently planning to initiate drilling of the first borehole in the spring of 2021. The location of the first borehole is Lot 23, Concession 8 and the second is at Lot 28/29, Concession 8. Constructing the first drill pad and access to the site is currently underway.

“This drilling schedule will allow time to continue engagement with local municipal and Indigenous communities on field activities, and to undertake preparatory work in advance of drilling,” said Geoff Crann, Manager, Site Services at the NWMO.

The type of pre-drilling activities that are underway or completed include: an environmental due diligence walkover, a survey of the features of the surface of the land an archeological survey, cultural verification, and a pre-drilling private drinking water well survey.  

“Our technical studies, such as the analysis of the rock core obtained during drilling, are not only following international best practices from a science perspective, but our work also places priority on minimizing our impact on people and the environment,” said Sarah Hirschorn, Director, Geoscience at the NWMO.

In addition to borehole drilling, the NWMO is planning more field activities in 2021 in order to further characterize the geology of the potential site. This includes activities such as installing micro-seismic monitoring stations across the region (to monitor for seismic activity, such as low-magnitude earthquakes), installing shallow groundwater monitoring wells to further study water in the area, and conducting geophysical studies. 

As well as the technical work, the NWMO is continuing with engagement activities in the area through virtual and physically distant in-person open houses, webinars and the Learn More Centre to ensure residents have lots of opportunities to learn more about the project and the NWMO’s upcoming work.

We also continue to monitor advice from government and public health authorities to guide our planning and activities and adjust plans as necessary in order to protect the health and well-being of our colleagues and the communities.

South Bruce is one of two areas currently involved in the NWMO’s site selection process for a deep geological repository for Canada’s used nuclear fuel. The other is the area west of the Township of Ignace, in northwestern Ontario.

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 more than 20 years by a dedicated team of world-class scientists, engineers and Indigenous Knowledge Holders 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.

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