TEESWATER, ONT. — We now know exactly where a proposed underground facility to house Canada’s nuclear waste will be, if it comes to fruition.
The Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) has secured all of the 1,500 acres of farmland they will need to permanently store over five million used nuclear fuel bundles that once powered Canada’s nuclear plants.
“This is an important milestone in South Bruce, and an expression of confidence in the project. We are thankful for the continued interest in our land access process, and know there is much more to do as we work toward assessing the potential suitability of the site,” said Dr. Mahrez Ben Belfadhel, vice-president of Site Selection at the NWMO.
Securing all the land they need, means the NWMO can start borehole drilling in the spring, to ensure the geology of the region can support the underground project that is being designed to house the radioactive waste, forever.
Similar work is underway in Ignace, the other Northern Ontario community still in the running to host the controversial project. To address community concerns, the NWMO says they’re committing to a program to compensate landowners if property values fall because of the project, if it’s built in South Bruce.
“The plans announced today recognize and address concerns which have been raised in the South Bruce community,” said South Bruce Mayor Robert Buckle. “I appreciate that the NWMO is demonstrating that they are working with the residents through this process.”
The project has divided the small, rural community of roughly 6,000 residents. Sheila Whytock is part of a local group, pushing the proposed $23-billion project forward.
“I understand all the concerns and the benefits that are possible with this, and I think we owe it to future generations to at least see what the research says before we say, yes or no,” she said.
Michelle Stein is on the other side of the debate. She says the potential benefit of thousands of construction jobs, and hundreds of operational jobs, are far outweighed by the safety concerns, and permanently labelling the area as Canada’s nuclear waste “graveyard.”
“It’s time for [South Bruce council] to start listening to their constituents because there’s lots of us that are not willing to host this nuclear dump, and it’s time the community gets a vote to decide what’s going on,” says Stein.
The NWMO plans to pick South Bruce or Ignace to house Canada’s high level nuclear waste by 2023.