NWMO set to resume drilling in siting communities

Borehole drilling, coring, and testing is starting in the Ignace and South Bruce areas. The drilling activities are part of scientific studies the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) is doing to evaluate the geology of the two potential siting areas for a deep geological repository for Canada’s used nuclear fuel.

Martin Sykes, Senior Geoscientist marking where NWMO’s first borehole in South Bruce will be drilled

Borehole drilling and testing is part of the NWMO’s broader continuing site investigation work to enhance our knowledge about whether the site can meet our robust regulatory requirements. Safety and security underscores everything we do at the NWMO and our work is guided by the responsibility to protect people and the environment for future generations.

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This is the first borehole the NWMO is drilling at the potential repository site in South Bruce. In the Ignace area, we have resumed work that began before the pandemic with the fourth borehole, and work is underway to set up the site in preparation for initiating drilling of the fifth borehole.

“Drilling of boreholes is one of the important ways that we collect information about the geology and underground setting,” said Sarah Hirschorn, Director of Geoscience, NWMO. “It allows us to learn more about the rock and the water deep below ground at our potential repository sites.”

As part of the NWMO’s site selection process, we need to be sure that used nuclear fuel can be safely contained in the rock, underneath the surface, to ensure water is protected and people and the environment are safe. We are committed to working with communities, including municipal, First Nation and Métis communities, to only safely site this project in an area with informed and willing hosts.

Once borehole drilling and testing is complete, the NWMO will share progress and findings with community members. For our borehole drilling and testing programs in Ignace and South Bruce, the field activities can take up to nine months per borehole.