Borehole drilling at proposed nuclear waste site begins

It’s a potentially monumental day in the Municipality of South Bruce.

Crews started borehole drilling Friday to determine if 1500 acres north of Teeswater could house Canada’s first permanent nuclear waste facility.

“We’re actually breaking ground. The rig is on site today, and has started the first part of the drilling, itself,” says Martin Sykes, senior geoscientist with the Nuclear Waste Management Organization.

For the next 11 months, the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) will be trying to prove that the rock and soil, north of Teeswater, can properly house Canada’s most radioactive waste, forever. They’ll be testing the geology and ground water, until at least next March, when they’ll report back to the community with their findings.

“I think the borehole drilling is just going to be another technical report. Just an excuse for them to say, just wait, be quiet, learn more,” says Michelle Stein, leader of Protect our Waterways-No Nuclear Waste, a group vehemently opposing burying the radioactive waste under their municipality.

The proposed project, that could bring not only nuclear waste, but thousands of jobs to the region, has split the community. Many opposed, and many in favour, with a decision on whether the community is even willing to host the project, still two years away.

“There’s a lot of people that joined both groups, so that is why it is very important we get all the information that we possibly can to support it or oppose it. Then we have to have the public decide at some later date,” says the Mayor of the Municipality of South Bruce, Robert Buckle.

“I don’t think anybody should really be making a decision on whether they’re willing to host it or not, until we even know if we can,” says Sheila Whytock, founder of Willing to Listen-South Bruce Proud, a community group that is in favour of pushing the proposed project forward.

South Bruce and Ignace, in Northern Ontario are the final two possible locations for the underground storage facility. A decision on where the nuclear waste will be buried, is expected in 2023. In the meantime, drilling for answers is underway.

“This borehole, we anticipate it taking nine months. The second borehole will be similar, but starting in July,” says Sykes.