NWMO President and CEO Laurie Swami shared a message of collaboration and the potential for future partnership to South Bruce this week.
At South Bruce Council on Tuesday, January 12, Swami took time to reflect on 2020, lay out plans for 2021 and thank local leaders, municipal staff and residents who, for the past eight years, have been contributing to advancing Canada’s plan for the safe, long-term management of used nuclear fuel.
“I want to thank you all, both personally and on behalf of the NWMO for your ongoing contributions to this important national environmental infrastructure project,” Ms. Swami said. “We greatly value our relationship with the community of South Bruce and although 2020 has been a challenging time for all of us, we remain hopeful and excited for what 2021 will bring. We also recognize that now, more than ever, is the time for us to come together.
Part of the NWMO’s work in 2021 will see increasingly more detailed technical and social studies to continue exploring whether the potential repository site in South Bruce is a suitable location for a deep geological repository. Similar work is also underway in the Ignace-Wabigoon area, the other potential site being considered.
Listening to the community
Over the last year, the NWMO has continued to seek feedback from the community as our work evolves to identify a single, preferred site for the deep geological repository in 2023.
Ms. Swami touched on a few examples of the NWMO’s community-driven site selection process, including a focus on water protection and protecting property values.
“We received a significant amount of feedback about the project’s potential impacts on property values. To address these concerns, the NWMO made a commitment to establish a property value protection program, in consultation with the Municipality, to compensate property owners should property values be adversely affected by our project,” noted Ms. Swami.
Swami also highlighted how community input helped shaped the Environmental Baseline Monitoring Program, saying that “in order to address further feedback from the community, we expedited and expanded the baseline well water monitoring program around the potential repository site”.
“We consistently heard that water protection is of primary importance and the NWMO shares this commitment. Our work together must include protecting our precious and shared water resources. It is so important to proceed with the repository for used nuclear fuel precisely because of the vital role it will play in protecting environmental features like water – it’s internationally recognized as the safest and most prudent path forward,” noted Ms. Swami. “It’s on all of us to make good decisions, based on solid and current information, so we can take care of the environment and leave it to the next generation.”
Ms. Swami also touched on upcoming work in South Bruce in 2021.
Establishing baseline conditions in South Bruce and region
In 2021, the NWMO and the Municipality of South Bruce will begin studies to assess the potential impacts of the project in the community and regionally. Depending on the area of study, these projects will be led by the municipality, the NWMO or both working in partnership.
Recognizing that safety is the NWMO’s top priority, the NWMO will lead a number of studies to confirm the suitability of the geology and other environmental factors around South Bruce as a site for our repository.
Borehole Drilling and Testing: The NWMO is wrapping up site preparation at the two borehole sites in South Bruce and plans to begin borehole drilling this spring to further our understanding of the local geology at the potential repository site.
Environmental Baseline Monitoring Program: Data collecting for the Environmental Baseline Monitoring Program will begin in 2021 and includes water well sampling as well as environmental features like surface water, air, soil, plants and animals, and their habitats around the potential repository site and the surrounding region.
Well-Being studies from the List of Guiding Principles from South Bruce Council: These studies will focus on the social, economic and cultural impacts this project may have on this region if the project is sited in South Bruce. Many of these studies respond directly to the opportunities and questions raised by community members through input and feedback.
The studies’ results will be shared broadly with the community and provide important information as people consider whether the project is a good fit for the community. The table below provides information on a few of the studies the Municipality of South Bruce and the NWMO will be initiating in 2021. More information on these studies will be shared at the February meeting of the South Bruce Community Liaison Committee.
The NWMO is tasked with implementing Canada’s plan for the safe, long-term storage of used nuclear fuel in a manner that protects people and the environment for generations to come in an area with informed and willing hosts.”