On January 16, 2018, the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) completed drilling its first borehole near Ignace (see: video). The purpose of this borehole is to obtain initial core samples and provide access to the rock at depth for further investigations.
The study of the core samples retrieved from borehole drilling and the rock at depth is part of the site evaluation program to build an understanding of the characteristics of the rock at or near a potential repository site for Canada’s used nuclear fuel.
Drilling started on November 6, 2017 in a rock formation known as the Revell Batholith, located south of Highway 17, about 35 kilometres west of Ignace (between Ignace and Wabigoon Lake Ojibway Nation). This area is one of several involved in the site selection process.
“Completing the drilling of our first borehole to obtain initial core samples and provide access to the geological conditions at depth marks another significant milestone in Canada’s plan for the safe, long-term management of used nuclear fuel,” said Dr. Mahrez Ben Belfadhel, Vice President of Site Selection. “I’m happy to say it’s been great work and collaboration from everyone involved in this learning process, particularly in Ignace and Wabigoon Lake Ojibway Nation, as well as other First Nation, Métis and municipal communities.”
Further activities to analyze the core samples and explore the borehole at depth are now underway. Geoscience, environmental, engineering and repository safety specialists will continue to work through 2018 to complete the borehole analyses, interpret data, and share the findings.
Various studies are also underway in the vicinity of four other Ontario communities involved in the site selection process. The preferred site must have a suitable rock formation in an area with an informed and willing host. That means collaboration with people in each area is a key part of the process. The project will only move forward in partnership with the community that first expressed interest, as well as First Nation and Métis communities and surrounding municipalities.
The NWMO expects to be able to select the preferred site for detailed site characterization by about 2023.