Step 3: Phase 2 - Field Studies and Engagement 

In 2014, 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.

Work in this phase begins with initial studies such as geophysical and environmental surveys to further assess potential suitability. Studies to further assess potential to foster well-being in the area continue.

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.

Community Studies

The Nuclear Waste Management Organization, in collaboration with the Township of Ignace, will be rolling out various socio-economic and environmental studies over the summer of 2022 and into 2023. The studies, referred to as “community studies,” focus on the potential economic and social benefits and impacts of building a deep geological repository to store Canada’s used nuclear fuel.

Results of all studies will be published below and will also be presented at upcoming community liaison committee meetings.

For a release schedule and additional information, visit the Ignace Community Liaison Committee website

Confidence in Safety Report

In June 2022, the NWMO published Confidence in Safety reports for each of the two potential sites being considered to host a deep geological repository to store Canada’s used nuclear fuel.

The Confidence in Safety report for the Wabigoon Lake Ojibway Nation-Ignace area will be used to support continuing dialogue with Canadians and Indigenous peoples about the project, including helping to inform the communities that are considering their willingness to host the project.

After a site is selected, additional studies will be undertaken to further inform the repository design and long-term safety case.

2021 Community Survey

In January 2021, the NWMO initiated community surveys in Ignace to better understand and improve the way we communicate and engage with the public. The surveys were conducted by an independent Canadian research firm on behalf of the NWMO, and were designed to determine how communities would like to receive information during the site selection process.

Partnership Working Group

Partnership working groups have been formed between the NWMO and each of the Township of Ignace, the Municipality of South Bruce, and the Township of Huron-Kinloss. The partnership working groups are currently active in Ignace and South Bruce, Ont.

Each partnership working group includes municipal and NWMO representatives, with the purpose of exploring the Adaptive Phased Management project and what it would mean if Canada’s plan were implemented in the community.

The partnership working groups also explore:

  • The potential for partnership and to consider how the APM project might be configured in order to align with the municipality’s priorities and objectives;
  • The near and longer term investments in the community related to the Canada’s plan; and
  • How the broader area would be involved.

The partnership working groups work towards the ongoing development of the strategic project plan for the municipality and the NWMO, as well as related activities to support the potential for partnership.

The goal of each partnership working group is to propose a framework and list of milestones (including scope, timelines, resources and budgets) for further dialogue and decision-making. The partnership working groups have no decision-making authority. They meet monthly or as agreed to by the members of each partnership working group.

2019 Community Surveys

In September 2019, the NWMO initiated community surveys in Ignace to better understand and improve the way we communicate and engage with the public. The surveys were conducted by an independent Canadian research firm on behalf of the NWMO, and were designed to determine how communities would like to receive information during the site selection process.

2019 Assessment Update 

In 2019, we announced the community of Ignace is one of two continuing in the site selection process. This decision followed several years of progressively more detailed study and engagement.

Borehole Drilling and Testing

The focus of early geoscientific studies is to determine if there are rock units in the area that have 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, airborne geophysical surveys, observing general geological features, detailed geological mapping, and beginning to drill boreholes in a potential repository location. Through discussion with people in the area about a number of potentially geologically suitable areas, the NWMO has identified the general location for initial boreholes. It is located in a rock formation known as the Revell Batholith.

Depending on findings, additional borehole drilling and testing in one or more locations may be warranted.

Selecting locations for these boreholes provides an opportunity for the NWMO, the interested community, and First Nation and Métis communities in the area to work together to consider where the project might best fit. Once borehole locations are identified, the NWMO must submit an application to the provincial government for permission to drill. Assembling a permission application is one activity among many designed to help advance the NWMO’s understanding of the perspectives of people in the area about the project. Engagement and dialogue continue. 

Ultimately, the preferred site will need to meet robust technical requirements focused on safety. The implementation of the project must also foster the well-being of the area as defined by people who live there, and will need to be supported by strong partnerships. The project can only proceed with the involvement of the interested community, First Nation and Métis communities in the area, and surrounding communities.


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)

an outline of the NWMO's roadmap to partnership

Ignace 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 Ignace, including communities such as Dryden, Thunder Bay, and Wabigoon Lake Ojibway Nation. 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.

The project will create employment that includes:

  • 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

Infographic showing number of direct, indirect and induced jobs in the economic region and Ignace and area by project phase.

Initial Field Studies

Initial studies, completed as part of Preliminary Assessment (Step 3: Phase 2), build on earlier studies, and are designed to deepen understanding of rock characteristics at potential repository sites, potential for a willing host, and beyond that, the potential to develop a supportive partnership to implement the project in the area.

Airborne surveys have been used to gather additional geological information about potential siting areas. They have helped us build a more detailed understanding of bedrock geology both at the surface and deep underground.

Visually observing general geological features helps build knowledge about the rock. We also use the observations to inform more detailed studies in the future.