Step 3: Phase 2 - Field Studies and Engagement

In 2015, the NWMO began working with communities in this area to plan field studies and engagement as part of Preliminary Assessment (Step 3: Phase 2). Through fieldwork, more detailed studies and broadened engagement, Phase 2 assessments expand upon work completed in Phase 1.

Based on findings from these initial surveys, we may conclude studies in areas with lower potential to meet technical and community well-being requirements.

We will then work with communities in areas that continue in the process to plan more intensive field studies.

As studies are completed, we will publish the details here.

2019 Assessment Update  

In 2019, we announced that two areas will continue in the site selection process: either Huron-Kinloss or South Bruce, and the Ignace area. In Huron-Kinloss and South Bruce, one community will move forward once a potential repository site is located through an ongoing process with local landowners. This decision followed several years of progressively more detailed study and engagement.

The Land Access Process

A key part of the selection process is studying and identifying a site that can safely house the underground repository and its surface-level facilities. Part of that work requires us to assemble and access sufficient land to complete our studies, which could include borehole drilling, environmental monitoring and other site investigation work such as Indigenous cultural verification.


In Huron-Kinloss and South Bruce, the NWMO seeks to sign agreements to access sufficient land in order to complete those studies. Similar land is already available to us in the other three siting areas. As the NWMO continues to work with communities towards site selection in 2023, the Land Access Process will also help us understand if we can assemble sufficient land in these areas as well.


To learn more about the Land Access Process, please read The Land Access Process: Next steps in Huron-Kinloss and South Bruce.

Planning Initial Borehole Drilling and Testing

The focus of geoscientific studies in Huron-Kinloss is to determine if the rock in the area has the potential to satisfy our safety requirements for a deep geological repository for the long-term management of Canada’s used nuclear fuel.

Geoscientific studies conducted to date have involved desktop studies, which make use of publicly available information about the geology of the area. The NWMO and the community have also worked together to identify a potential location for an initial research borehole in Huron-Kinloss to further understand the general geology of the community. The location identified is on municipal land and the borehole would be for research purposes only. It is not expected to be a repository site.

The drilling of the initial research borehole, originally planned for 2017, has been delayed. However, geoscientific assessments to date indicate that the geology in the area has the potential to meet the requirements of the project. The NWMO has sufficient confidence to proceed with next steps to advance the site selection process.

Discussions are underway to advance learning and build a foundation for strong partnerships in the area. We must also consider how to identify potentially suitable lands for the project. 

Borehole drilling is still required to advance and confirm our understanding of general geology and potential repository areas.   

Exploring Partnerships

The NWMO and communities are beginning more detailed discussions on how to advance learning and build the sustainable partnerships that would be required to support the implementation of Canada’s plan for the safe, long-term management of used nuclear fuel.

The NWMO has outlined a multi-step road map to guide these partnership discussions, which focuses on exploring potential to advance the project in partnership with people in the area, as well as puts in place a framework to implement the project if a preferred site were identified in the area.

Road map to partnership (2017-2022)

Image shows partnership steps written out in text. Huron-Kinloss has identified values and principles to guide future discussions with the NWMO to explore partnership and to consider the project in more detail. These values and principles, and the engagement activities that led to their development, are described in the summary report (Guiding principles for exploring partnership – Community conversations update) below.

Project Economics: Employment

To help understand the project's economic effects in potential siting areas, we have developed models that provide initial estimates. By working together to implement the project, we can optimize and direct economic benefits to meet community expectations and needs.

We have committed to implementing the project in a way that fosters well-being as defined by the people who live in the area. We continue to learn from communities about the many dimensions of well-being that are important to them. Economics is just one aspect.

If the project proceeds in the area, it will create many jobs in and around Huron-Kinloss. Given the project’s extended time frame, there would be many opportunities for people living in the area. New families would be attracted to the area and would also contribute to area communities.

  • Direct Jobs: Jobs at or near the repository site, including skilled and semi-skilled employment during construction and operations

  • Indirect Jobs: Jobs created by suppliers and contractors working on the project, such as food catering, accommodation, transportation, and equipment

  • Induced Jobs: Jobs created in retail and professional services by expenditures of people employed in direct and indirect jobs

Visualization of employment details listed by project phase.