Thunder Bay

Nuclear Waste Management Organization starts drilling near Ignace, Ont.

The drilling of a single hole in the Canadian Shield will help determine if it's feasible to bury nuclear waste in northwestern Ontario.

Drilling will take two or three months; results to come in a year

Fuel bundles, such as the one pictured here, would be used at the nuclear waste repository that could be located near Ignace, Ont. The Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) is currently conducting drilling at a potential location for the respository. (Supplied by Nuclear Waste Management Organization)

The drilling of a single hole in the Canadian Shield will help determine if it's feasible to bury nuclear waste in northwestern Ontario.

The Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) has started to drill a borehole about 35 kilometres west of Ignace, Ont. The first borehole will take about two or three months to drill, with the analysis of the rock taking up to a year.

"This is where we're going to start," said Pat Dolcetti, the regional communications manager with the NWMO. "Now, there are, there still are other potential areas in the region, but we have to start somewhere, and everybody agreed this is a good place to start."

Other communities in the northwest that have shown interest in hosting nuclear waste include Hornepayne and Manitouwadge. Other communities in Ontario include Elliot Lake, Blind River, Huron-Kinloss and South Bruce.

The drilling in Ignace is the latest in a series of steps studying that particular area.

"This would be the next step of geological studies for the Ignace area. Previously ... our geologists and other technicians have done fly-overs, airborne surveys, they've walked the land, they've looked at readily available information. But, this is the first time actually getting a core sample at or near the repository site."

It's a long process. Dolcetti said the NWMO hopes to have a site selected by 2023 to host the waste. It will take another two decades before the repository is built and operational.

The NWMO has stated the construction phase will provide 400 direct jobs for a decade, and the operations of the facility will provide 520 jobs over its 40 year lifespan.


Jeff Walters


Born and raised in Thunder Bay, Jeff is proud to work in his hometown, as well as throughout northwestern Ontario. Away from work, you can find him skiing (on water or snow), curling, out at the lake or flying.


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