IGNACE, Ont. — The Nuclear Waste Management Organization and the Township of Ignace have signed a Memorandum of Understanding aimed at strengthening their working relationship.
By 2023, the NWMO plans to choose either the Ignace area or South Bruce – in southern Ontario – as its preferred site for a nuclear waste storage facility deep in the Canadian Shield.
In a joint announcement Tuesday, the two parties said the MOU focuses on the importance of creating a collaborative plan for the development of a potential hosting agreement should Ignace decide the project would benefit the community.
The proposed location for the underground repository is between Ignace and Wabigoon Lake First Nation.
The hosting agreement would be implemented if Ignace and Wabigoon Lake First Nation both expressed their willingness.
"There is plenty of work yet to do, but this agreement shows that we have accomplished a great deal in our engagement with Mayor Penny Lucas and the township council, and helps us solidify next steps," said NWMO CEO Laurie Swami.
Lucas called the MOU "a huge step" toward the drafting of a possible hosting agreement.
"While we still have much work to do, I am looking forward to positive future engagements with President Swami and the entire NWMO team," she said.
Ignace has been involved in the site selection process for about 10 years.
NWMO has given the town millions of dollars for local infrastructure projects.
Its relationship with Wabigoon Lake First Nation is not nearly as advanced.
Chief Clayton Wetelainen said Tuesday "We're still in a learning phase, and we still hold the authorization to stop the project. That was the only stipulation we had to start learning about the project."
Wetelainen said the First Nation is pushing NWMO to help the community further build its capacity and resources for becoming informed about the proposed storage facility.
"We knew that Ignace was going into the MOU to discuss partnership. We're not ready at this point," he told TBNewswatch.
An NWMO spokesperson said the organization has had "lots of engagement" with Wabigoon Lake First Nation to date.