NUCLEAR WASTE MANAGEMENT ORGANIZATION (NWMO) UPDATE
The NWMO is federally mandated to implement Canada’s plan for the long term management of used nuclear fuel. A key component of this plan is the long-term containment and isolation of used nuclear fuel in a deep geological repository in a suitable rock formation. The project will only be located in an informed and willing host community. The NWMO is implementing a ten year siting process to seek and select a suitable willing community and site for this project. Several communities in this area have expressed interest in learning more about this project, as have many other communities throughout Ontario and Saskatchewan. Only one location will ultimately be chosen for this project. That decision will not be made for many years and will require a compelling demonstration of willingness from people in the community for the project before it will proceed.
In a separate process, Ontario Power Generation (OPG) is seeking a site preparation/construction license for its proposed Deep Geologic Repository (DGR) for low and intermediate level waste to be constructed at the Bruce nuclear site.
Here’s some Background
The OPG DGR proposed for the Bruce site is for low-intermediate waste. Initial discussions for OPG’s DGR for low and intermediate level waste were initiated in 2001, the regulatory approvals process began late in 2005, and it’s anticipated that, pending a successful regulatory approvals process, OPG could receive a site preparation/construction licence in 2014.
In addition, Saugeen Shores, Brockton, Huron-Kinloss, Arran-Elderslie and a good number of other communities (more than 20) across Ontario/Saskatchewan have expressed interest in learning more about the process to become a host site for a DGR for used nuclear fuel.
The process to select a community and site can take ten years. At this point, communities have only expressed interest in more information about Canada’s plan for the long-term management of the country’s used nuclear fuel. The plan has at its endpoint the construction of a deep geological repository to safely and securely contain and isolate used nuclear fuel over the long term.
In recent weeks the NWMO hosted open houses in Southampton and Port Elgin, and staffed a booth at the Port Elgin Rotary Club Home Show, to help familiarize residents with the project and to answer their questions and address their concerns. These sessions were held at the request of the Saugeen Shores Town Council. Each event attracted 120 people or more.
“It’s important that people are provided the information they need,” said Mayor Mike Smith. “It’s going to take seven to ten years for a decision to be made, and whichever community ends up hosting the repository must fully understand the benefits and challenges involved,” he added.
One of the first activities is for the NWMO to conduct a desktop initial screening against five high-level criteria to determine whether there are any obvious reasons why the community should be excluded from further consideration. It in no way commits the community, which retains the right to withdraw from the process at any point. Importantly, the community that ends up hosting the repository project will be required to demonstrate its willingness to do so in a compelling way involving citizens at a grassroots level.
These initial screening results were recently delivered in Brockton, and are expected within three months for Saugeen Shores. Following a presentation to Saugeen Shores Council, the NWMO will host an Open House to share the information with residents, as was done in Brockton. If these communities are potentially suitable, and if they decide to proceed, the site selection process provides for a series of increasingly more detailed social, economic and technical studies over many years before a decision is taken.
For information about the NWMO, the project and the process to select a site, including Backgrounders and videos, visit the NWMO’s website: http://www.nwmo.ca.
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