Deep Geologic Repository
With support from local communities, Ontario Power Generation (OPG) proposed creating a Deep Geologic Repository (DGR) for the long-term management of low and intermediate level nuclear waste, on lands adjacent to the Western Waste Management Facility.
Decision by Saugeen Ojibway Nation
Early in 2020, after more than a decade of OPG research, public consultation, and federal regulatory hearings, the Saugeen Ojibway Nation members voted No to a Deep Geologic Repository (DGR), for low-and intermediate level nuclear waste, as proposed by OPG for the Bruce nuclear site in Kincardine.
OPG upheld its 2013 commitment not to proceed without SON support and discontinued the project.
OPG is moving forward to develop an alternate permanent solution for the storage of low- and intermediate-level nuclear waste. Any new site selection process would include engagement with indigenous peoples as well as interested municipalities.
During this process, OPG will remain focused on waste minimization, including volume reductions, innovations in processing, and recycling where possible.
Background on the DGR and moving forward
Since the 1970s, OPG has safely transported, processed and stored low and intermediate level nuclear waste.
While we can continue to safely store this waste above ground, we also have an obligation to future generations to dispose of waste safely and responsibly, so it cannot pose a threat to the public or the environment.
Committed to safety
The DGR was proposed to safely isolate and contain waste underground, ensuring the protection of water and the environment.
The DGR would have been buried beneath the Bruce site, deeper than the CN Tower is tall, and constructed with low permeability limestone capped by 200 metres of low permeability shale.
The site has rock formations over 450 million years old that do not have any major faults or fractures, are stable and predictable, and provide excellent isolating capabilities.
This type of setting was ideal for hosting a repository and ensuring long-term safety.
DGR by the numbers
Storage depth to isolate waste
200,000 Cubic metres
of waste was to be stored
stored waste is low level
Waste stored in stable rock, formed 450 million years ago
The latest news and future plans
Get the latest updates and information about OPG’s efforts to provide lasting solutions and peace of mind for future generations.
June 26, 2020 - OPG DGR project is officially terminated from the federal environment assessment process
In the letter to OPG on June 15, the Honorable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, accepted OPG’s request to withdraw the Project from the federal environmental assessment process and terminated the environmental assessment (EA). Termination of this federal EA does not limit the future application of federal environmental assessment legislation should OPG or any other proponent propose this or a similar project at a future date.
May 27, 2020 - OPG requests to withdraw from federal EA process
Jan. 31, 2020 - SON members vote No to DGR
October 2019 - OPG makes unilateral benefits offer to SON members
OPG made a unilateral benefits offer to SON members, to help inform the vote by members on the project. The offer included a SON role in decision-making on the DGR, financial benefits, and opportunities in employment, training and procurement related to the project.
2018-2019 - OPG intensifies engagement with SON
OPG intensified its decade-long engagement with SON, including 22 community engagement sessions with SON members throughout 2019, to answer questions on the DGR project, attended in total by more than 350 SON members.
March 2018 - OPG and SON sign an interim measures agreement
OPG and SON signed an Agreement on Interim Measures on Legacy Issues and Related Matters.
Feb. 14, 2018 - Kincardine council votes in favour of ratification
The Municipality of Kincardine Council voted in favour of ratification of the 2018 Amending Agreement for the 2004 DGR Hosting Agreement.
Some of the key items included in the amendment:
- The Amending Agreement will release 50% of the monies held in trust. OPG put the 2015-16-17 payments to Kincardine and Adjacent Municipalities (Kincardine, Saugeen Shores, Huron-Kinloss, Arran-Elderslie and Brockton) in trust, as required by the original agreement, due to the length of the approvals process.
- It will also resume annual payments at the 50% level, until a decision is made on OPG’s proposed DGR at the Bruce site.
- OPG and Kincardine will form a joint Working Group in 2018 to begin developing recommendations on how to support the concept of a centre of energy excellence.
For further information, explore the Amending Agreement to the 2004 DGR Hosting Agreement.
Aug. 21, 2017 - OPG reviewing new request for information from Federal Minister
OPG is reviewing a new request for information from the federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change on its proposed Deep Geologic Repository for the permanent disposal of its low and intermediate level nuclear waste.
The Minister has asked OPG to update its analysis of potential cumulative effects of the DGR Project on physical and cultural heritage, through its ongoing process with Saugeen Ojibway Nation (SON).
OPG committed in 2013 that the DGR would not proceed to construction without the support of SON, whose traditional territory includes the proposed location at the Bruce nuclear site.
OPG has been engaged in respectful, ongoing dialogue with SON and that will continue.
June 28, 2017 - CEAA announces OPG answered all questions on alternate locations
On June 26, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) announced that OPG had adequately answered all questions in a requested study on alternate locations.
The study showed that building the DGR elsewhere in the Canadian Shield or Southern Ontario is technically feasible, but would result in greater environmental effects, higher costs and a delay of 15-20 years or more – with no additional benefits in safety compared with OPG’s preferred location at the Bruce nuclear site.
May 26, 2017 - OPG submits additional info about DGR to CEAA
The submission is OPG's response to 23 questions from the CEAA resulting from an extensive review of alternate DGR locations and environmental commitments. The review, which involved the public, Indigenous communities and several federal departments, took place in the first quarter of 2017.
The CEAA will now complete its analysis and draft recommendations to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change.
The CEAA draft report will be followed by a public comment period, a final version of the report, and then the Minister’s decision on the Environmental Assessment (EA).
If approved, OPG will submit an application for a construction licence.
April 5, 2017 - CEAA requests additional info on proposed DGR
The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) issued a request for OPG to provide additional information regarding its proposed DGR for low- and intermediate-level nuclear waste.
The information being requested relates mainly to questions of clarification, elaboration and some additional analysis on a few key elements of the project. This includes:
- Further description of the differences among three potential locations (the proposed location at the Bruce site and the two alternate locations that were studied), based on various technical, environmental or other criteria.
- Further analysis of potential cumulative effects of two repositories (OPG’s DGR and a separate facility being explored by NWMO for used fuel), if they were to be located in the same region.
To date, OPG has responded to 585 requests for additional information; the additional 23 requests bring the total to 608.
Mar. 6, 2017 - Public comment period closed
Jan. 18, 2017 - CEAA invites public comments
On Jan. 18, 2017, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) announced it is inviting public comments until Feb. 17, 2017 on the additional information received from OPG on the DGR project.
A resource document to assist participants in the preparation of submissions regarding the technical review is available on CEAA’s public registry.
The CEAA also announced it has allocated just over $146,000 to 10 applicants to assist their participation in the remaining steps of the environmental assessment of this project.
Jan. 3, 2017 - OPG submits three studies requested by Federal Minister
OPG has submitted three studies requested by the federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change. The three studies submitted to the CEAA include:
- The environmental effects of two feasible alternate locations in Ontario for a new disposal facility for low- and intermediate-level nuclear waste. One assessment considers a similar DGR in a sedimentary rock formation in southern Ontario. The second considers a similar repository in a granite rock formation in central to northern Ontario.
- An updated analysis of the cumulative environmental effects of the Project, assuming a used-fuel repository is located in close proximity to OPG’s DGR Project. A site for a used-fuel facility has not yet been determined by the Nuclear Waste Management Organization.
- An updated list of OPG’s commitments to mitigate adverse environmental effects under CEAA 2012.
Based on the studies’ findings on environmental effects and other factors, OPG maintains that a DGR is the right answer for Ontario's low and intermediate level waste, and that the currently proposed Bruce Nuclear site is the right location.
An independent federal Joint Review Panel (JRP) recommended in 2015 that OPG’s project move ahead “now rather than later,” based on a strong safety case and to reduce risks to the environment.
More about DGR
Want to learn more about the DGR project? Explore the additional information below.
Why we chose the Bruce site
- The Bruce site has excellent geology for isolating and containing the waste.
- A DGR at the Bruce site had the support of the host and adjacent communities.
- Much of the low- and intermediate-level waste is already safely stored at the WWMF, and could have been easily transferred to the DGR.