Skip to content

Nuclear waste repository site still on track for end-of-year decision

Despite reports of community dissent, Nuclear Waste Management Organization moving forward with plans
NWMO Ignace office

IGNACE — The Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) still intends to choose a site for its waste repository project by the end of this year, according to a regional spokesperson for the industry-funded body.

That’s notwithstanding a newspaper’s report indicating lukewarm support at best in First Nations near both final candidate sites.

Neither Wabigoon Lake Ojibway Nation in the Northwest nor Saugeen Ojibway Nation near Lake Huron has yet scheduled a community vote related to the project, though Wabigoon Lake has said it will hold a vote in autumn.

The NWMO has said whichever site is chosen must have host communities that are “informed and willing to accept the project.”

But Vince Ponka, the NWMO’s spokesperson, said the organization is sticking with its timeline for a site choice.

“Our plan was always to make the decision by the end of this calendar year and we’re still confident that we’ll get those results by then,” he said.

One potential host municipality, Ignace in the Northwest, has held a community vote and agreed to report its decision to the NWMO by the end of July.

The other municipality in the running, South Bruce in southwestern Ontario, will hold a referendum in October.

Wabigoon Lake would be the host First Nation if the NWMO builds a deep geological repository, or DGR, south of Highway 17 and west of Ignace.

Its chief, Clayton Wetelainen, said he hopes to see members vote on support for the project in the fall but the vote might take place later.

The First Nation is still in talks with the nuclear organization on a hosting agreement, he said, and a hosting agreement must be in place before there’s a vote.

“The hosting agreement is still a work in progress,” Wetelainen said.

Asked how far away a hosting agreement is, he said, “I wouldn’t say it’s close.”

A few more months may be needed to reach an agreement with the NWMO, he said.

Saugeen, which includes the South Bruce site in its traditional territory, also has not reached a hosting agreement with the NWMO.

A Saugeen official told the Globe and Mail a referendum of its members will be held once the First Nation has received enough information from the NWMO — and “we’re at least halfway home to having our questions satisfied.”

The DGR is a proposed underground facility to put millions of used fuel bundles from Canada’s nuclear power plants.

Ponka said the NWMO’s plan is for the repository to be constructed at either site by about 2034 and be in operation for well over 100 years with a total budget of $26 billion.

Finland has built a similar repository, which delegations from Ignace, Wabigoon Lake and many other communities toured last year in junkets that the NWMO paid for.

— NWOnewswatch