Elliot Lake Standard | April 26 | Armed with brochures, maps, photographs and stationary displays, professionals from the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) were in Elliot Lake last Monday and Tuesday (April 24/25) disseminating information on the identification of an appropriate site for a deep geological (nuclear waste) repository (DGR). And with nine communities still in the running as possible host sites, a 250 square-kilometre block about 60 km northeast of Elliot Lake is currently being surveyed and considered as a contender to host the DGR.

According to NWMO communications manager, Mike Krizanc, the site has undergone initial identification and aerial surveys.

“We located the area by desktop identification and an aerial survey was completed last month.”

The airborne ‘gravity’ survey is designed to give geologists a better understanding of ground conditions.

“We are looking for an area that has competent solid ground conditions with few fractures, faults and with minimal ground water migration.”

Known as the Mozhabong Block, the potentially appropriate site will undergo a ground survey this year.

“We will have a team (of geologists) on the ground this summer,” said Krizanc. “They will be mapping, looking at rock structures and other geological indicators.”

The data collected during the winter aerial surveys, compiled with the information collected during the summer, will give the NWMO the information as to the “geological appropriateness” of the site.

“If the site proves to be geologically appropriate we move on with the process…. If the geology isn’t there neither is the project…, and then the community is asked to withdraw from the process.”

Physical criteria is just one aspect of the overall process. Acceptance of the project by the community is a critical component.

“There needs to be a compelling demonstration of willingness by the whole community,” said Krizanc. “The community as a whole will have to decide (find a way of demonstrating) its willingness.”

NWMO has been disseminating information and updating this community on its process for about five years. And according to the organization, they want to identify a single site by 2023. Once a site has been identified there is about five years of preparation and about 10 years of construction before the DGR goes into full operation.

By RICK SMIT, Ellot Lake Standard, Wednesday, April 26, 2017, as posted at http://www.elliotlakestandard.ca/2017/04/26/nwmo-hosted-open-house