NWMO invites local media to borehole sites

·2 min read

TEESWATER – The Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) opened the two borehole sites, located on Concession 8 in Teeswater, to give local media organizations a tour and an update on the progress of the exploratory drilling.

Accompanied by NWMO Senior Geologist Martin Sykes and Site Director Tareq Al-Zabet, media representatives were shown around the two sites where they are drilling to advance the knowledge and understanding of the subsurface geology of the proposed site for a deep geological repository (DGR).

The DGR will house and manage Canada’s used nuclear fuel underground in a location yet to be determined.

The drilling at the first borehole site is complete, and the rock removed from the hole is undergoing testing to determine the age and characteristics, specifically the target formation (where they will build the underground structure), which is called the Cobourg formation and sits at approximately 650 metres below the surface.

“The Cobourg formation is… a very strong… clay-rich limestone, so that’s got high strength, virtually no permeability and will basically be the host for the repository,” Sykes said.

Added Sykes, “This was an important formation for us to hit. We hit it at around 650 metres and it’s about 40 metres thick, which is probably a little thicker than the average, for the area.”

Sykes said that the thickness of the Cobourg formation in the borehole was a good sign because it would be thick enough to host the repository.

Sykes said that the deepest rock found at approximately 900 metres is over one billion years old.

The exploratory drilling allowed testing monitors to be lowered into the borehole to determine how quickly the underground water moves through the rock.

The water removed from below the surface is quickly tested on-site for minerals and oxygen levels. It is then sealed in an airtight container to preserve its integrity.

Testing the water and the core samples is currently happening off-site, in Canada and abroad, at several universities, including the University of Waterloo geology facility.

Results of the testing will be entered into a database to be analyzed by the geologists and will be released when that process is finished.

Geologists from Geofirma Engineering will remain on-site and continue to monitor how the water moves through the rock at the potential site. Sykes anticipates that the borehole testing will be completed by spring of 2022.

The NWMO is tasked with finding a permanent home for Canada’s used nuclear fuel. There are two sites left in their consideration for the DGR – South Bruce and Ignace, both in Ontario.

Cory Bilyea, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Wingham Advance Times

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