Step 3: Preliminary assessments of suitability

In Step 2, interested communities took part in an initial screening to gain insight into their potential to meet the requirements of the project. In Step 3, communities that passed this initial screening could request a more formal assessment of their suitability. This is referred to as a "preliminary assessment."


    By the end of 2014, 21 communities engaged in learning more about Canada's plan had entered Step 3 and a gradual process of narrowing down had begun. Learn more about the sites still under consideration, as well as those areas no longer being studied.

    What is a preliminary assessment?

    For an area to be considered, it must have potential to have a site that meets the robust requirements of the project. In Step 3, the NWMO and the interested community, and later the First Nation and Métis communities in the area and surrounding communities, work together to conduct studies to explore whether these requirements can be met. Four questions are explored:

    1. Is there the potential to find a safe site?
      The safety, security, and protection of people and the environment are central to the siting process and entire project.

    2. Is there the potential to foster the well-being of the community?
      Depending on the community, "well-being" might be defined as increased employment, the enhancement of the environment, infrastructure development, and so on. 

    3. Is there the potential for citizens in the community to continue to be interested in the process through subsequent steps?
      In a later step, the community must demonstrate that it is informed and willing to host the project. Continued interest and learning is important.

    4. Is there the potential to foster the well-being of surrounding communities and to establish a foundation to move forward?
      The project must have the potential to foster the well-being of the surrounding area as well.

    How is a preliminary assessment conducted?

    A preliminary assessment is conducted through a series of studies conducted in two phases over several years:

    • Phase 1 focuses on desktop studies using information that is readily available. The interested community continues to learn and reflect on its interest in the project.
    • Phase 2 focuses on fieldwork conducted with the involvement of communities in the area. Learning and engagement continues and broadens to involve communities in the area, including First Nation and Métis communities.

    Scientific and technical studies are conducted, as well as studies on community well-being. Resources to support communities are available through each phase.


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    Steps in the site selection process

    Step 3: Phase 1 - Desktop studies and engagement
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    Steps in the site selection process

    Step 3: Phase 2 - Field studies and engagement