NWMO prepares for borehole drilling near Ignace

Year 1 No. 30 — Friday, November 4, 2017

The Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) held an Open House in Ignace on October 26th and 27th. The Learn More Centre provided an opportunity for locals to engage with the project as the site selection continues.

Ignace is one of nine communities still in the running for the deep geological repository for the long-term management of Canada’s used nuclear fuel. Ignace is the first community to begin prepping for borehole drilling and is using the Open House as a chance to let others learn more about the process.

The centre was outfitted with interactive displays, printed information, video presentation software, and other tactile learning materials. Tables were set up with maps and documents to help facilitate discussion and engage community members. Civil engineers and geologists were also on-site to help answer questions about the scientific process involved with site selection.

A truck-mounted drill rig was on display in the parking lot of the Ignace Town Plaza and inside the centre locals gathered to give input surrounding their opinions on potential drilling locations. The borehole drilling will involve extracting a narrow, circular core sample from approximately one kilometer below the Earth’s surface.

Tests done on the core will include determining rock strength, minerals present and zones of groundwater flow, among others. The drilling process can last about 90 days, but the scientific study will take months of testing and review.

During this process the NWMO is working with Indigenous partners to ensure they are respectfully applying their knowledge of the natural environment and traditional lands. In addition, they take many precautions to ensure an environmentally friendly approach that helps to recycle natural resources.

As Ignace moves further along in the selection process, the NWMO continues to provide learning opportunities that help promote partnerships in the community. Regional Communications Manager, Patrick Dolcetti said, “Part of the goal is to provide social and economic partnerships to make the region a better place to live.”

“We are looking for an informed and willing host,” he said. The process isn’t just about finding a suitable geological site; there needs to be a willing reciprocity between the host and the NWMO. Because of this, the organization opens as many channels as possible to engage with the public. They want to make sure that they are giving people learning opportunities to make informed decisions and to help challenge misconceptions.

Dolcetti spoke of the ability of the repository to help improve the quality of life to the region that hosts it. At the height of the project’s economic potential they will be able to create 1,410 new jobs for the Northwest Region.

The site selection process is scheduled to go on for many years as the NWMO and the involved communities continue to complete the studies. As time goes on more Open Houses and learning opportunities will continue to present themselves. In the meantime, those looking for more information can visit the NWMO website or contact the Learn More Centre directly.