I noted with interest the statement Windsor West MP Brian Masse, NDP Critic for the Great Lakes, issued about his visit to South Bruce on October 13, 2021.
MP Masse reiterated the need to speak with local residents for a project of this magnitude, and the need to proactively consider the health of the Great Lakes. I agree with him. For more than a decade, we at the NWMO have been engaging and dialoging with local municipalities and Indigenous communities about the project. Like the MP, we want to ensure people and the environment – including the Great Lakes – are protected for generations to come.
I think it’s important to note that during his visit to South Bruce, MP Masse did not meet with the NWMO. We have since reached out to MP Masse’s office directly, and we hope to meet with him to ensure he’s fully informed about the project. We are pleased to say he has committed to meeting with us in the coming weeks.
I personally look forward to the opportunity to meet with MP Masse and to share how the NWMO has been engaging Canadians and Indigenous peoples to find a way to safely store Canada’s used nuclear fuel that’s been left over from decades of nuclear power generation. In collaboration with Canadians, Indigenous peoples and the world’s top experts, we are moving ahead with a permanent solution that has the endorsement of scientists from around the world.
The entire purpose of Canada’s plan – the reason we are investing time, effort and money to implement it – is to protect people and the environment, including the Great Lakes. The used fuel will be moved from the surface, further from the lake than where it is now, and placed within a system of barriers to ensure passive safety for generations.
Two potential siting areas are being considered for the placement of the deep geological repository, one in northern Ontario near Ignace and the one in South Bruce, Ontario that MP Masse noted. The project can only go ahead if it can be demonstrated as safe for people and the environment, including the Great Lakes. It also requires informed and willing hosts, and resilient partnerships with municipal, First Nation and Métis communities. The only areas being considered are those where a community expressed interest in exploring the project and their potential for hosting it.
Canada’s plan for the long-term management of used nuclear fuel is consistent with best practice around the world. While all this material is safely managed today, it’s widely recognized that the interim storage methods we use now are not appropriate for the many thousands of years it remains hazardous. There is global scientific consensus that deep geological repositories are the safest way to protect people and the environment, including precious water resources. This approach is supported by groups like the European Commission, the Nuclear Energy Agency of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future and the International Atomic Energy Agency, which includes Canada and the US among its 171 member states.
Canada has a strong independent regulator for all nuclear facilities. No nuclear project can proceed unless demonstrated safe. The preferred site for the deep geological repository will be subject to an extensive environmental assessment review and licensing process by the federal government.
In Canada, we can be proud that the way we manage used nuclear fuel is among the many strengths of our nuclear sector. The NWMO is proud to be leading efforts to do the responsible thing by implementing plans to place used nuclear fuel in a manner that will benefit generations of Canadians and Indigenous peoples, for years to come.
There is, unfortunately, some misinformation about the project that continues to circulate which is why I wanted to share my thoughts with you today. I welcome anyone who wishes to learn more about the project to please contact us. We’re always happy to dialogue.
Director of Government and External Relations, NWMO