Northern environmentalists can breathe easy after the Nuclear Waste Management Organization site selection committee eliminates Blind River and Elliot Lake as potential deep geological repositories.

Originally 22 municipalities expressed interest in bringing the project to their communities, which has now been narrowed down to five.  Studies will continue in Ignace, Manitouwadge, Hornepayne, South Bruce and Huron-Kinloss, Ontario.

Several factors, revealed in technical studies and community input, posed challenges in considering both Blind River and Elliot Lake for the opportunity.  Geological complexity, limited access and rugged terrain, and availability of partnerships required for implementation played a role in the exclusion of the two areas.

“We are grateful to have worked with communities in this area and for the outstanding leadership they have shown on behalf of all Canadians through their involvement in this process,” said Dr. Mahrez Ben Belfadhel, NWMO Vice President of Site Selection.

“The decision to narrow our focus is part of an ongoing, rigorous process to identify a single, safe site in an area with an informed and willing host and strong potential for the partnerships that will be required to implement the project.” says Ben Belfadhel.

Despite not being selected, the municipalities and First Nation communities that participated in the review will now be eligible for funding to support sustainability and well-being investments. Blind River, Elliot Lake and Sagamok Anishnawbek First Nation will receive $600,000 and neighbouring communities of Spanish and The North Shore will receive $300,000.

The organization has been engaged in a multi-year, community-driven process to identify a preferred site for a deep geological repository for Canada’s used nuclear fuel since 2010 and expects to be in a position to select a preferred site by about 2023.