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Canada’s Nuclear Waste Management Organization looks to First Nations to back waste storage, AND small nuclear reactors

Ontario sites short-listed for nuclear waste storage, The organization developing a place to store spent nuclear fuel in Canada has settled on two potential sites in Ontario. The move rules out 20 other potential sites across Canada, including three in northern Saskatchewan.

The Nuclear Waste Management Organization recently announced the Wabigoon Lake Ojibway Nation-Ignace area in northwestern Ontario, and the Saugeen Ojibway Nation-South Bruce area in southern Ontario, are both under consideration.

“These communities are now working through their timelines to determine willingness,” Russell Baker, manager of media relations for the NWMO, said in an e-mail.

Baker said the NWMO hopes to settle on one of the two Ontario sites by the fall of 2024, but only “with informed and willing hosts, where the municipality, First Nation and Métis communities are working together to implement it.”

Disposing of spent nuclear fuel has been an issue for the nuclear industry for decades. A variety of countries, including Canada, are looking at deep geological repositories, where the waste can be safely stored for thousands of years within stable rock formations, like the Precambrian Shield. Finland is already building one.

Back in 2010, the NWMO announced there were 22 potential sites for underground storage across Canada, including sites near Pinehouse, English River First Nation, and Creighton, in northern Saskatchewan.

According to Guy Lonechild, executive director of the First Nations Power Authority (FNPA), coming up with a shortlist of potential sites is another step.

“There were some previous sites looked at in northern Saskatchewan but there’s been a lot of time and energy put into a deep geological repository in the province of Ontario. And those are the two viable options that that we would support for further study,” Lonechild, who is also a former FSIN chief, said.

Lonechild added the FNPA has been looking seriously at the possibility of Small Modular Nuclear Reactors (SMNR) for Indigenous and northern communities for several years.

……………. However, even though SMR’s are relatively small, the cost could easily be a billion dollars or more. Which is why FNPA would be looking for partnerships to help Indigenous communities get involved.

“So it is going to take a significant amount of capital. And so we’re looking at developing consortium groups to participate on an equity basis.”

………………….. “The only way we’re going to get there is if First Nations that are informed, that give free prior informed consent. And they identify ways that they want to participate in, in clean energy jobs and in the nuclear industry,” he said.


February 28, 2023 - Posted by | Canada, indigenous issues, wastes

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