For any site that is ultimately selected for the repository, we will need to demonstrate to people in the area and regulatory authorities that environmental considerations have been fully addressed.

Environmental characterization will help us begin to build an understanding of the general ecology of an area. It is the first phase of a stream of studies that will become more detailed and focused as preliminary assessments continue.

How will the work be conducted?

Teams of two or three specialists will walk, use ATVs and/or use watercraft to observe land characteristics. The work is non-obtrusive, which means this observation phase is limited to what can be seen on the surface. It includes making notes and taking pictures about the size and types of streams, the types of local plants and animals, and fragmentation of existing forest. Small samples of soil or plant life may be taken for further characterization and study.

Depending on the size of the area, the nature of the terrain and how easy it is to access, this work is expected to take a few weeks to complete. Several months would then be required to review and interpret the data.
This image shows three examples of specialists observing land characteristics.

How will this information be used?

What we learn through environmental characterization studies will help verify information from desktop studies and increase our understanding of local ecology, including important information about plants and animals.

These studies are one source of knowledge for understanding the ecology of an area. We seek to learn from First Nation and Métis communities, Indigenous Knowledge holders and others in the area to build a shared understanding about the land.

What’s next?

Environmental characterization will help inform future, more detailed studies that will be required as part of the site selection process. Once a preferred site is identified, a full environmental assessment will be required.