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OPG’s Bruce County facility wins program of the year for biodiversity work

For years, OPG’s facility in Bruce County has been helping to fight climate change while protecting and nurturing biodiversity in southwestern Ontario.

We deployed drones to help survey the growth of invasive Phragmites near the Western Waste Management Facility in Bruce County.
OPG deployed drones to help survey the growth of invasive Phragmites near the Western Waste Management Facility in Bruce County.

Now, the Western Waste Management Facility’s (WWMF) efforts have been recognized with the Gold Program of the Year award from the Wildlife Habitat Council (WHC), an international group that promotes and certifies habitat conservation and management.

Located within the OPG-owned Bruce nuclear site in Kincardine, the Western facility has worked to improve the surrounding environment, support conservation efforts, and raise awareness in the community.

“This achievement recognizes the extent of our commitment to improve habitats and biodiversity at the Western facility while engaging the community in educational awareness,” said Jason Van Wart, OPG’s Vice President of Nuclear Waste Management. “Across OPG, protecting and nurturing Ontario’s biodiversity is a fundamental part of our operations and part of our climate commitment in action.”

The international Gold Program of the Year award, announced during a virtual event in June, is the highest level of recognition achievable from the WHC and is OPG’s first-ever such recognition. The WWMF, which was awarded Gold Certification by the WHC in March, stood out among 32 Gold Certified international candidates to take home the honour.

The award recognizes a diverse array of projects implemented at the site in partnership with biologists and conservation groups. This includes managing an old-growth forest, a wetland, natural grassland areas, and invasive species like phragmites, as well as habitat improvement projects for birds, reptiles and amphibians, and community-engagement programs in Bruce County.

A painted turtle at an OPG-created basking area at the Bruce site
A painted turtle at a basking area at the OPG-owned Bruce site.

Across the company, OPG is engaged in a number of programs with conservation authorities and environmental agencies that range from habitat restoration to planting native trees and shrubs to managing ponds and wetlands. These nature-based solutions will be important to helping OPG reach its climate change goals outlined in its new Climate Change Plan.

The WWMF manages and provides interim storage of low- and intermediate-level nuclear materials from OPG’s Pickering and Darlington nuclear stations and the Bruce Power stations. The Western Used Fuel Dry Storage Facility stores used fuel from the Bruce site only.

The facility is one of several OPG sites to receive Gold Certification by the WHC in recent years. In 2019, the company’s Niagara Operations and Wesleyville site were certified Gold. Other OPG sites to receive the certification in the past include the Eastern Operations hydroelectric group, Lennox Generating Station, and the Darlington and Pickering stations.