NWMO Update on Phase 2 Studies, Jackfish Journal, Hornepaye (October 2014)

[NWMO Story – Wednesday, October 15, 2014 issue of
Jackfish Journal – as posted on "Nuclear Repository Pro Information
for Hornepayne" Facebook Page]

You may have seen several geologists and contractors from the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) working in the community over the last two weeks. The team have been staying in Hornepayne as they began the next part of geological studies to determine if a safe site can be found in the area for Canada’s used nuclear fuel repository.

The geologists spent about five days observing key geological features in the broad areas that were identified for further study as part of the earlier desktop studies. These observations are required before more detailed studies can begin. Tbe mapping contractors were expected to complete their work early this week. "Rock features need to be observed from tbe ground to confirm their existence and location," said NWMO Director of Geoscience, Mahrez Ben Belfadhel.

"Some features that will be examined include the extent of exposed bedrock, rock types and fractures visible from the surface, and the thickness of overburden. We also want to see the general topography of the area."

Geologists and contractors will complete this work by traveling on existing roads and trails. They may occasionally walk off these trails for short distances to explore specific features. It may be necessary to view some features from canoe or boat. Mayor Morley Forster wants area residents to know this is a long process, "Hornepayne is one of 14 communities currently involved in the NWMO’s site selection process. There are still several years of research before these Preliminary Assessment studies will be completed. I encourage people from our community and the surrounding area to continue learning together."

In November 2013, Hornepayne moved into the second phase of Preliminary Assessment studies which are expected to take several years to complete. Preliminary Assessments are the third of nine steps in a multi-year process for evaluating potential suitability to host a deep geological repository for Canada’s used nuclear fuel and an associated Centre of Expertise.

Phase 2 technical studies may also involve airborne geophysical surveys, and depending on the outcome of these surveys, surface and subsurface studies, including detailed geological and environmental mapping, and borebole drilling and testing. Geoscience experts will need several months to review the research and share findings with the community. Based on the information collected from this work, combined with findings from earlier desktop studies and airborne surveys which will be completed at a future date, the NWMO will work with the community and aboriginal communities in the area to jointly develop plans for future studies.

"Tbe project will only proceed with the interested community, Aboriginal peoples in the area, and surrounding communities working in partnership to implement the process," said Ben Belfadhel.