Ignace to Announce “Willingness” Decision in the Nuclear Waste Management Organization’s site selection process

The Council of the Township of Ignace has announced that it will hold a “special meeting” Wednesday (4 pm Eastern, Wednesday July 10) to receive a consultant’s report and the recommendation of an “Ad Hoc Willingness Committee”, immediately after which they will make a decision on the community’s “willingness” to continue in the Nuclear Waste Management Organization’s site selection process.

The NWMO has said it will select a single site by the end of 2024 for a deep geological repository for all of Canada’s high-level nuclear fuel waste. The project will include transportation of the waste in 2-3 trucks per day for over 50 years, then processing at the site in a still-to-be-designed waste transfer facility, and finally placement deep underground in a series of tunnels and vaults so radioactive no workers can be present during the emplacement process.

The NWMO has been studying the “Revell Site” between Ignace and Dryden since 2010, and has narrowed its list of candidate sites to just two: the Revell Site in Northwestern Ontario and the Teeswater site in the Municipality of South Bruce in Southwestern Ontario. The Revell Site is 45 kilometres outside the Township of Ignace and in a different watershed.

The NWMO has deemed Ignace to be the “host community”, despite Ignace’s distance from the site, lack of jurisdiction, and the presence of other communities closer to the site and downstream. In 2020 the Township of Ignace passed a resolution that the Township itself would make the decision on behalf of the people of Ignace, rather than holding a referendum, as the Municipality of South Bruce will carry out on October 28, 2024. In 2023 the Township hired the consulting firm With Chela Inc., which conducted a number of interviews and held an online poll. The consultant’s report was presented in-camera to Ignace’s “Ad Hoc Willingness Committee”, which had been selected and appointed by the Council in February. This “ad hoc” committee will make a recommendation to Council at 3 pm tomorrow, July 10, and Council will make a decision immediately following the presentation of the committee report. A media conference will take place at 3:30 pm, followed by a “Celebration Dinner” for the first 250 Ignace residents.

There is broad opposition to the NWMO project from individuals, community and citizens’ groups, municipalities, and First Nations. In addition to criticism of the project itself due to the negative impacts on the environment and  human health during transportation and operation and after radioactive waste abandonment, the NWMO siting process and the Township of Ignace’s approach have also been soundly criticized for being secretive, undemocratic, and lacking scientific and technical rigour.

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