Huron-Kinloss moves forward in NWMO’s site selection process for used fuel repository


By Barb McKay

The Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) is looking to build a partnership with the Township of Huron-Kinloss to see if it would be an appropriate site to host the federal government’s project to store Canada’s used nuclear fuel in a deep geologic repository (DGR).

Jo-Ann Facella, NWMO’s director of community well-being, assessment and dialogue, attended last Monday’s township council meeting to discuss the next step in the organization’s site selection process for the $20 billion project. Huron-Kinloss is one of seven municipalities that remain in the process. NWMO expects to select a site by 2023 and submit its environmental assessment/licence application to the government by 2028. Preliminary assessments of each of the remaining municipalities are in various stages.

The preferred site must meet stringent criteria: that it can be implemented safely; that a safe, secure and socially acceptable transportation plan can be developed; and that it has the support of the host community, local First Nations and Metis communities and surrounding municipalities.

Huron-Kinloss is well into the site selection process and borehole drilling to further investigate the geology of the area was supposed to have taken place this year but has been delayed. Despite this, Facella said, geoscientific studies that havetaken place up to this point indicate that there is potential for the township to meet the necessary requirements to host the project.

“We do have sufficient confidence to advance the process to the next step in the selection process in Huron-Kinloss.”

The next step involves developing a partnership between NWMO and the township to work together to create a work plan that would ultimately helpdetermine if there is potential to implement the DGR project in Huron-Kinloss. That would include understanding what it would look like if the project was developed in Huron-Kinloss; how it would fit in with the township’s vision for its future and the community’s well-being; and what relationships and investments are needed in the area to implement the project.NWMO and the township would look at other partners, including neighbouring municipalities and First Nations and Metis communities, and there would be updates to the public.

“It’s important to work through this collaboratively,” Facella said.

Huron-Kinloss, and other municipalities that remain in the site selection process, received funding to establish a community benefit fund and Facella said there will be other investments made in community well-being projects, as well as support for education and skills training for local residents.

Mayor Mitch Twolan stressed that council is still gathering information and is not at a point where it is ready to support the federal DGR project yet, but he encouraged council members to think about projects that would benefit the community that could be singled out for investments from the NWMO.

According toa recent economic analysis by AECOM, if the DGR was located in Huron-Kinloss it would create 95 direct, indirect and induced jobs annually during the siting and licensing phase, 1,410 annually during the construction phase, 1,980 annually during the operational period, 270 annually during the monitoring period and 420 annually during decommissioning.