Canada’s plan will only move forward at a site with informed and willing hosts. That means the people living there need to understand what it means to host a project like this and support having it located in the area.
About the site selection process
The site selection process emerged through a two-year dialogue. It reflects the ideas, experience and best advice of a broad cross-section of Canadians who shared their thoughts on what an open, transparent, fair and inclusive process for making this decision would include. It is built on a set of guiding principles and was developed within our ethical and social framework.
The site selection process is designed to ensure:
• The selected site is safe and secure;
• It has informed and willing hosts; and
• It meets the highest scientific, professional and ethical standards.
When the process began, 22 communities in Canada voluntarily expressed interest in learning more about the project and exploring their potential to host it. We gradually narrowed our focus to two potential sites through increasingly intensive social engagement and technical site evaluations.
Both potential sites are in Ontario — one in the WLON-Ignace area in northwestern Ontario and one in the SON-South Bruce area in southern Ontario.
Together with communities, we’ve been working to assess each site for its potential to meet the project’s robust safety requirements, to develop a safe and socially acceptable plan to transport the used nuclear fuel to each site, and to build supportive and resilient partnerships.
Before Canada’s plan can move ahead, communities must confirm they are willing to host it. Our approach to determining willingness for siting the project has always been community-driven. Each of the communities remaining in the site selection process is developing their own processes for defining willingness and determining how they will express it. The NWMO continues to support the communities and residents by providing the information required to make informed decisions.
Confidence in safety
Our Confidence in Safety reports summarize our understanding of each of the two remaining siting areas. Based on years of research and field work, they conclude both sites being considered to host the repository can meet the project's requirements to contain and isolate used nuclear fuel in a way that will protect people and the environment.
Site selectionView all FAQs
How was the site selection process developed?
Interested individuals and organizations shared their thoughts with the NWMO on what an open, transparent, fair and inclusive process would include. We have also drawn on experiences and lessons learned from other site selection processes conducted in Canada and other countries.
How will a single, preferred site be chosen?
Since 2010, we have been engaged in a multi-year, community-driven process to identify a site where Canada’s used nuclear fuel can be safely contained and isolated in a deep geological repository.
Potential siting areas are identified and assessed in a series of steps that began when communities formally expressed interest in learning more.
The safety and appropriateness of any potential site will be assessed against a number of factors, both technical and social in nature.
The process is community-driven. It is designed to ensure, above all, that the site selected is safe and secure and has an informed and willing host. The process must meet the highest scientific, professional and ethical standards.
The project will only proceed with the involvement of municipal and Indigenous communities in the area and surrounding communities working in partnership to implement it.
Which areas are currently involved in the site selection process?
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.
How will the selected area benefit from the project?
Canada's plan for managing used nuclear fuel is approximately a $22.8-billion (2015 $) national infrastructure project. It will bring significant economic benefits to the area where it is eventually located, including the community that initiated the area's involvement, First Nation and Métis communities in the area, surrounding municipalities, and the host province.
It is a multi-generational project that will be developed and implemented in phases over a period spanning more than 150 years. The economic impact will include many direct, indirect and induced jobs for scientists, engineers, tradespeople and others. Construction and operations will create wealth in the form of business profits and personal income throughout the siting area amounting to many hundreds of millions of dollars.
We will work with communities in the siting area to foster well-being and help capture benefits that align with the communities' visions. The project may contribute to social and economic pressures that will need to be carefully managed to ensure the area's long-term well-being and sustainability. We will work with communities to explore the need for assistance such as job training, affordable housing and infrastructure.
How long will it take to confirm a site for the deep geological repository?
To guide project planning, we have made assumptions about timing associated with the work we need to complete. Our current plans anticipate we may be in a position to select a preferred site for Step 4: Detailed site evaluations by about 2024. We will continue to update our best understanding of possible timelines as work advances and more information becomes available.
Over time and through increasingly detailed technical and social studies and engagement, it will become clearer which area has the strongest potential to safely host the project.
- The preferred site will be one that can safely contain and isolate used nuclear fuel, protecting people and the environment over the very long term.
- The project must be implemented in a way that helps foster the well-being or quality of life of the host community.
- The project will only proceed with the involvement of the interested community, First Nation and Métis communities in the area, and surrounding communities working together to implement it.
How will the NWMO confirm a willing host?
We have a community-driven site selection process that is designed to ensure above all that any location selected is safe and secure, and that the project has an informed and willing host.
Best practice and experience suggest there are a range of approaches a potential host may use to demonstrate willingness in a compelling manner. These might include documented support expressed through open citizen discussions, a telephone poll, online meetings or surveys and/or a formal referendum.
New approaches may also emerge over the intervening years as societal expectations and decision-making processes continue to evolve. Communities will be encouraged to identify processes that meet their specific needs and demonstrate clearly to the NWMO whether the project has the support of citizens.
As the siting process has evolved and engagement has broadened to include First Nation, Métis and other communities in the area, partnership to support the implementation of the project is an important objective. The project will only proceed with the involvement of the interested community, First Nation and Métis communities in the area, and surrounding communities working together to implement it.