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Blind River, Elliot Lake eliminated from nuclear storage vetting process

Ignace, Manitouwadge and Hornepayne still in the running
The Nuclear Waste Management Organization has eliminated Blind River and Elliot Lake as possible sites to host the country’s used nuclear fuel. (NWMO photo)

Blind River and Elliot Lake have been removed from the site selection process that’s seeking a community to host a nuclear waste storage facility.

On Dec. 6, the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) said the vetting process revealed there were challenges with both communities, which eliminated them from the running.

They include “complexities associated with the geology, limited access and rugged terrain, and low potential to develop the breadth of partnerships needed to implement the project.”

Studies are continuing in five other communities, including three in Northern Ontario – Ignace, Manitouwadge, and Hornepayne – along with South Bruce and Huron-Kinloss in southern Ontario. Those communities have been whittled down from an original 22 that expressed interest in participating, the NWMO noted.

“We are grateful to have worked with communities in this area and for the outstanding leadership they have shown on behalf of all Canadians through their involvement in this process,” Dr. Mahrez Ben Belfadhel, vice-president of site selection, said in a release.

“The decision to narrow our focus is part of an ongoing, rigorous process to identify a single, safe site in an area with an informed and willing host and strong potential for the partnerships that will be required to implement the project.”

The NWMO said municipal and Indigenous communities that took part in the siting process would receive funding “to support investments in community and sustainability and well-being.”

Blind River, Elliot Lake and Sagamok Anishnawbek First Nation will receive $600,000. The neighbouring communities of Spanish and The North Shore will receive $300,000. The contributions will be made to their community well-being reserve funds.

NWMO, which is overseeing the management of Canada’s used nuclear fuel, began the process to find a deep geological repository for used nuclear fuel in 2010. The organization expects to select a preferred site by 2023.