Nuclear Waste Management Organization says ‘geological complexities’ make area unsuitable

CBC News Posted: Mar 03, 2015 12:38 PM ET Last Updated: Mar 04, 2015 11:40 AM ET

The Nuclear Waste Management Organization has ruled out the Schreiber area as a potential site for nuclear waste disposal ­ and the announcement has taken Schreiber Mayor Mark Figliomeni by surprise.

"My initial reaction was I was a bit caught off-guard by the announcement, but certainly was aware that this possibly could be the end result," he told CBC News on Tuesday.

"[I was] certainly shocked but, you know, it’s time to move on and let’s see where we go from here."

The NWMO announced that new geological studies in the vicinity of Creighton, Sask. and Schreiber, Ont. "revealed that areas assessed near both communities have geological complexities that reduce the likelihood of finding a suitable site for either area to safely host a used nuclear fuel repository."

"We have collected and interpreted new data using high-resolution airborne geophysical surveys and geological field mapping, which provided a deeper understanding of the geology in these areas," said Dr. Mahrez Ben Belfadhel, director of Geoscientific Site Evaluations at the NWMO in a news release.

"These latest studies show there is limited potential in the areas of Creighton or Schreiber to find a repository site that would meet the safety requirements of the project."

Divided opinion in Schreiber

Figliomeni said there was a split in the community over whether Schreiber should be involved in the search for a nuclear waste disposal site.

But being removed from the process poses another economic hardship. He said the Nuclear Waste Management Organization has given the town about $800,000 over the past four years. Now that source of funding is gone.

"The community, ourselves, council and staff, will obviously have some work moving forward to replace that type of influx of cash dollars into, you know, your small and already-dwindling municipal budget," Figliomeni said.

The mayor added that Schreiber has become accustomed to the financial contributions from NWMO.

"We were comfortable in the Learn More process and we were far far away, and the NWMO is still probably quite far away, from siting [the
repository]. It would have been a community-wide-led decision whether we were gonna store nuclear waste. And I’m sure that would have been much more of a contentious issue but I think generally it was probably a split decision on the community staying at least in the process of learning more."

The NWMO continues to investigate the feasibility of nuclear waste storage in or near nine other communities, all of which are in Ontario.

They include White River, Manitouwadge, Hornepayne, Ignace, Blind River, Elliot Lake, Central Huron, Huron-Kinloss and South Bruce.