Construction has been completed at the first of two sites in South Bruce, Ontario, ahead of the start of borehole drilling, Canada’s Nuclear Waste Management Organisation (NWMO) has announced. The boreholes are part of the organisation’s investigations into the suitability of the site for a geologic repository for used nuclear fuel.
“Preparations to start borehole drilling in South Bruce in the spring of 2021 are progressing well,” Geoff Crann, NWMO manager, site services, said. “Construction of the first borehole site has been completed, and our contractor has started construction at the second borehole site.”
The borehole sites are northeast of Teeswater. Preparatory activities carried out prior to construction at both sites have included archaeological and topographic surveys; an environmental walk-over of the land; cultural verification and ceremony by the Saugeen Ojibway Nation; a pre-drilling noise and emissions study; and pre-drilling water-well sampling.
NWMO said it is “reaching out” to landholders in the potential repository site area to take part in additional baseline water-well testing and 3D seismic survey data acquisition. The seismic survey will be used to generate images of subsurface layers of rock. Other site assessment activities planned for 2021 include the installation of micro-seismic monitoring stations, to monitor for activity such as low-magnitude earthquakes, and shallow groundwater monitoring wells, to further study water in the area.
The NWMO is a non-profit organisation responsible for implementing Canada’s plan for the safe, long-term storage of used nuclear fuel inside a deep geological repository in an area with informed and willing hosts. Two possible host areas – Ignace and South Bruce – are being studied as possible host areas, having been narrowed down from a list of 21 interested communities through a process launched in 2010. The first borehole at Ignace, in northwestern Ontario, was completed in January 2018.
The NWMO plans to select a site in 2023.