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.

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 Saugeen Ojibway Nation-South Bruce 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.

Community Studies

An image of a sunflower field that says, More possibilities, made in South Bruce
The Nuclear Waste Management Organization, in collaboration with the Municipality of South Bruce, 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”, were initiated by the Municipality of South Bruce in 2021 and focus on the potential economic and social benefits and impacts of building a deep geological repository to store Canada’s used nuclear fuel.

The Municipality of South Bruce is leading a number of the studies and the NWMO is leading some of the others. The Municipality’s consultants are independently peer reviewing all NWMO work.  

Results of all studies and the peer reviews will be published on the Municipality of South Bruce website and will also be presented at upcoming Community Liaison meetings.

We have published several NWMO-led studies as of June 2022, available below.

Memorandum of Understanding

The NWMO is committed to listening to the community and working to satisfy the guiding principles set out by South Bruce to support local decision-making.

In June 2022, the NWMO completed a memorandum of understanding with the Municipality of South Bruce. The memorandum is available below and includes a list of commitments made by the NWMO to the South Bruce community. This memorandum is meant for discussion purposes only and does not constitute a legally binding or enforceable agreement.

Property Value Protection Program

In February 2022, the NWMO introduced a program to protect the value of properties near the potential site in South Bruce for Canada’s deep geological repository for used nuclear fuel. 

The Property Value Protection (PVP) program reflects a responsible commitment to the community and addresses questions we have heard from residents about whether property values will be affected if South Bruce is selected for this project. The program was developed in consultation with the Municipality of South Bruce and works to satisfy one of the guiding principles the community set out to support local decision making about the project.

The NWMO will continue to engage with landowners in the vicinity of the potential site to be sure we are capturing their thoughts on this and other topics related to the project. 

Engaging the Agricultural Community

The NWMO is responsible for implementing Canada’s plan for the safe, long-term management of used nuclear fuel in a manner that safeguards people and respects the environment, now and in the future. We are committed to meeting or exceeding all applicable regulatory standards and requirements for protecting the health, safety, and security of people and the environment.


In South Bruce, that also includes continued success and sustainability in agriculture and protection of our water resources. There cannot be any credible risk to people and the environment for the project to move forward.


Below are commonly asked questions from the agricultural community. Click here to view more commonly asked questions on other topics. You can also view our reports here.

Will a deep geological repository in South Bruce affect the agricultural community?


Canadian farmers have for decades safely farmed near nuclear facilities. Their crops and livestock are routinely monitored by partners and federal agencies such as the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission. There have been no adverse effects to their land or agricultural products.


The NWMO will work closely with the agricultural community to ensure the deep geological repository project will have added value to the agricultural sector, and to find opportunities to support and promote Ontario agriculture crops and products.


Will farming be able to continue in the area around the deep geological repository?


The deep geological repository is designed to be safe, and we expect much of the land directly above will remain productive farmland. Approximately 250 acres of the overall 1,500-acre site will be taken up by surface facilities to support the placement of used fuel underground. The remainder of the 1,500-acre site can continue to be used for agricultural production. Once the surface facilities have been closed and decommissioned, the remaining land can be returned to agricultural activities.


Will the project impact property values in South Bruce?


As responsible landowners, the NWMO is committed to develop, in consultation with the Municipality of South Bruce, a program to provide financial compensation to property owners if property values are adversely affected by the project. The property value protection program will be developed through a series of well-being studies that we plan to complete with the involvement of the community in 2022.


How will the NWMO protect people, the environment, farmland, and local watersheds?


The NWMO is using best environmental practices to ensure the project is implemented in a way that protects people, agricultural lands and sensitive environmental areas such as watersheds and sensitive ecological environments.


We are partnering with landowners, conservation authorities and other interested organizations to lead baseline and research studies to understand the natural ecological system in the area, including surface water, groundwater, soil, air, wetlands, and animals and species at risk. These studies will inform our work as we mitigate or eliminate potential adverse impacts of the project using technologies and operational best practices.


There will be a continuous monitoring of the natural environment throughout all phases of the project, including open and transparent reporting and information sharing.


This project will also be subject to a thorough regulatory review process, including an environmental assessment and a licensing review to ensure that it is implemented in a manner that protects people and the environment. In our planning timelines, we are currently anticipating that the regulatory review process will take approximately 10 years.


How are you engaging the agricultural community in South Bruce?


The NWMO is working with farmers to ensure the agricultural character of the region is preserved in our long-term plans.


We are working with South Bruce and agricultural partners to develop health, environmental, production, and market studies with trusted third-party experts to provide fact-based responses to questions and concerns we have heard in the community.


2021 Community Survey

In January 2021, the NWMO initiated community surveys in South Bruce 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. 

Environmental Baseline Monitoring Program

As part of the site assessment process, the NWMO will conduct environmental monitoring to create a baseline of understanding to ensure we can minimize any effect Canada’s plan may have.

In 2020, the NWMO hosted a series of virtual and in-person workshops to gather community input into the environmental baseline monitoring program. Led by the NWMO’s environmental and engagement teams, the workshops provided valuable input to advance our understanding of the specific needs and environmental interests of many community members.

In July 2021, we partnered with the Saugeen Valley Conservation Authority (SVCA) to launch a joint program to further understand water resources in South Bruce and the surrounding area to ensure protection for generations to come. As part of this program, the SVCA will conduct surface water quality and hydrology studies on behalf of the NWMO to develop a more comprehensive assessment of portions of the Saugeen Valley watershed, specifically the Teeswater River and Beatty Saugeen River subwatersheds. The program will characterize baseline environmental conditions by collecting monitoring data from those areas.

For more information on surface water and hydrology sampling and monitoring locations, check out the maps below.

Partnership Working Group

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


Each partnership working group includes municipal and NWMO representatives, with the purpose of exploring the Adaptive Phased Management (APM) 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 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.


In 2020, residents of South Bruce participated in project visioning workshops that identified their priorities for the APM Project if South Bruce were to be selected as the single, preferred location for the safe, long-term management of Canada’s used nuclear fuel.


The full report prepared by AECOM outlines how the workshops were conducted, as well as a detailed summary of feedback, comments and questions that were generated.

2019 Community Survey

In September 2019, the NWMO initiated community surveys in South Bruce 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.

2019-20 Assessment Update

In 2019, we announced that two areas would continue in the site selection process: either Huron-Kinloss or South Bruce, and the Ignace area. In Huron-Kinloss and South Bruce, one community would move forward once a potential repository site was located through an ongoing process with local landowners. 

In January 2020, the NWMO signed agreements with landowners in South Bruce, Ont., that allow sufficient access to land for studies at a potential deep geological repository location. It was also concluded that the Township of Huron-Kinloss, Ont., will no longer be considered a potential host for the project; however, as a neighbour to South Bruce, the community will continue to play a strong role as activities continue.

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 South Bruce and Huron-Kinloss, the NWMO sought to sign agreements to access sufficient land in order to complete those studies. This was referred to as the Land Access Process, initiated in May 2019. Similar land is already available to us in the Ignace area. 

In January 2020, the NWMO signed agreements with landowners in South Bruce, Ont., that allow sufficient access to land for studies at a potential deep geological repository location. 

In October 2020, the NWMO signed additional agreements with landowners, and shared details and a map of the potential deep geological repository site in South Bruce, Ont. The NWMO also outlined next steps to confirm safety at the site and made a commitment to protect property values in the area if it is selected to host a repository.

In 2021, the NWMO signed additional agreements with landowners for 250 acres of land, and shared an updated map of the potential deep geological repository site in South Bruce, Ont.

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

Borehole Drilling and Testing

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

Geoscientific studies conducted to date  involved desktop studies, which make use of publicly available information about the geology of the area. 

In May 2019, the NWMO launched a Land Access Process and worked with local landowners in South Bruce to determine if a possible site could be identified in the area. In January 2020, the NWMO signed agreements with landowners in South Bruce that will allow access to land for studies at the potential repository site northwest of Teeswater, Ontario. 

In October 2020, the NWMO signed additional agreements with landowners in South Bruce and announced the organization was beginning plan for two exploratory boreholes to confirm understanding of geology at the site. Drilling is planned to begin in 2021. 

As part of drilling best practices, the NWMO will test private water wells at and near the borehole sites.

The NWMO will work together with people in the area to plan the next set of activities. The NWMO will share the location of boreholes we will drill to help advance understanding of the geology at the potential repository site. We also plan to provide opportunities for interested residents to observe drilling activities to learn about the project.

Once borehole testing is complete the NWMO will review findings with people in the area and reflect on whether or not to continue with further studies.

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.

Additional Field Studies 

The NWMO is planning additional field activities in 2021 in order to further characterize the geology in South Bruce, Ont.

Activities include:

  • employing microseismic monitoring stations across the region to monitor for natural or manmade seismological shifts such as earthquakes or the effects of borehole or well drilling;

  • installing shallow groundwater monitoring wells to study the hydrogeology of the area; and

  • conducting geophysical studies in the area to assess the suitability of the area to host a repository. 

Exploring Partnerships

The NWMO and communities have begun 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 (2017-22)

Image shows partnership steps written out in text. South Bruce 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 South Bruce. 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

Visualization of employment details listed by project phase.