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Drilling underway at Ignace to test for nuclear waste storage fitness

The Nuclear Waste Management Organization said the first borehole has been completed.
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The Nuclear Waste Management Organization has been drilling at a location near Ignace which is in the running to host a repository for waste leftover from nuclear power generation. (NWMO photo)

The Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) has completed the drilling of its first borehole near Ignace, one of four sites being tested for fitness as a repository for waste generated from nuclear power.

The organization said the borehole would give the NWMO access to core samples and rock at depth for further investigations.

The NWMO has been drilling at a rock formation known as the Revell Batholith, located south of Highway 17, about 35 kilometres west of Ignace (between Ignace and Wabigoon Lake Ojibway Nation). The organization said the area is one of several involved in the site selection process.

“Completing the drilling of our first borehole to obtain initial core samples and provide access to the geological conditions at depth marks another significant milestone in Canada’s plan for the safe, long-term management of used nuclear fuel,” said Dr. Mahrez Ben Belfadhel, vice-president of site selection, in a Jan. 16 news release.

“I’m happy to say it’s been great work and collaboration from everyone involved in this learning process, particularly in Ignace and Wabigoon Lake Ojibway Nation, as well as other First Nation, Métis and municipal communities.”

The NWMO said it would work through 2018 to complete the borehole analyses, interpret data, and share the findings.

Evaluation work is being undertaken at the four other communities that are being considered for the repository: Manitouwadge, Hornepayne, South Bruce and Huron-Kinloss.

The NWMO said it expects to be able to select the preferred site for detailed site characterization by about 2023.