Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to address the question raised by the hon. member for Windsor West regarding the deep geologic repository project.
Our government is ensuring environmental risks that are linked to development are addressed by industry before projects proceed. We are committed to restoring confidence in the environmental assessment process, and ensuring decisions are based on the best available scientific evidence and traditional knowledge, and take into consideration the views of indigenous people, the public, and other stakeholders.
Ontario Power Generation is proposing to construct and operate a facility for the management of low- and intermediate-level radioactive waste at the existing Bruce nuclear generating site in Ontario. The project would be constructed in the bedrock beneath the Bruce nuclear site.
Low-level radioactive waste may be safely handled by workers using normal industrial practices and equipment without any special radiation protection.
Intermediate-level waste is radioactive to a level where more protection is required to protect workers during handling. It should be noted, and very clear, that disposal of high-level waste, including used fuel, is not part of this project.
The nuclear waste management office with the oversight of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, is developing a proposal and working to identify a willing host community for the disposal and long-term care of high-level waste.
The environmental assessment of the DGR project was carried out by a joint review panel that included the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission. In its findings, the joint review panel concluded that the project is not likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects, taking into account recommended mitigation measures.
After considering the joint review panel's report, the minister directed Ontario Power Generation to provide her with additional information concerning potential alternate locations for the project, cumulative effects, and Ontario Power Generation's commitments with respect to mitigation, in order to fully inform her decision.
Our government also believes indigenous peoples have the right to participate in decision-making in matters that affect their rights and that indigenous governments, laws, and jurisdictions must be respected. We are aware that Ontario Power Generation has committed to not proceed with the deep geologic repository project if it does not have the support of the Saugeen Ojibway Nation's communities.
In July, the Saugeen Ojibway Nation wrote to the minister asking for more time to complete its community consultation process. In light of Ontario Power Generation's stated commitment and the Saugeen Ojibway Nation's letter, the minister requested that Ontario Power Generation update its analysis of the potential cumulative effects of the project on physical and cultural heritage.
The update must include a description of the potential effects of the project on the Saugeen Ojibway Nation's spiritual and cultural connection to the land, and the Saugeen Ojibway Nation community process must inform the analysis and be incorporated into Ontario Power Generation's analysis.
Informed decision-making requires all available and relevant information to be gathered, considered, and taken into account. Following the submission of the updated cumulative effects assessment, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, assisted by other federal authorities, will prepare a draft report containing its analysis.
Indigenous groups and the public will be invited to review and comment on the agency's draft report, including the potential legally binding conditions with which Ontario Power Generation must comply, if the project is allowed to proceed.
In closing, I want to assure the House that, as with all projects, the final decision in this case will be made based on evidence, science, traditional knowledge, and public input.