|Bruce Centre for Energy Research and Information
INVERHURON, Ontario - June 14, 2002
For Your Information
Paper Trail Belies Nuclear Safety Commission
Federal Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable
Development Quizzes Regulator
On June 4th, 2002, Mrs. Cait Maloney, Director General of the Directorate
of Nuclear Cycle and Facilities Regulation, Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission
(CNSC) responded to questioning before the Standing Committee on the Environment
and Sustainable Development in Ottawa. Her appearance was requested
by the Committee Vice Chair in response to concerns raised by Committee
members. The concerns arose during testimony by Normand de la Chevrotiere
of the Inverhuron and District Ratepayers' Association (IDRA) and Environmental
Defence Canada (EDC) lawyer Rodney Northey.
The testimony of de la Chevrotiere and Northey suggested that Ontario
Hydro (now Ontario Power Generation - OPG) and Atomic Energy Control Board
(now CNSC) side-stepped public process in licensing construction of a
high level nuclear waste storage facility at the Bruce nuclear site.
According to de la Chevrotiere and Northey, neither Hydro nor AECB gave
public notice of "major changes" to the project design. (see Bruce
Centre IR 2002-09 )
Questioned by Windsor-St. Clair MP Joe Comartin, Mrs. Maloney denied
that any change had been made to the design of the proposed high level
waste storage facility (Dry Storage Project - DSP) at the Bruce nuclear
site during the public comment period process of licensing of the facility.
(The DSP is expected to soon go into operation as “short term” storage -
50 to 80 year - of used nuclear fuel from the Bruce nuclear reactors, the
most toxic substance known to humanity. Long term storage is considered to
be 10,000 years and more.)
The following statement, and all other statements quoted from the
proceedings in this document, are taken from the unedited, unofficial
transcript (or "blues") of the hearings:
Mr. Joe Comartin: Ms. Maloney, I think
the aspect of the brief that we got from the Inverhuron ratepayers group,
the most disturbing to myself was that the design changed midway through.
I think specifically in August of 1998, Hydro told the then AECB that it
would use the Pickering design. The environmental agency said that they would
publish a notice, which they in fact never did, of that design change.
In fact, a chain of letters between Ontario Hydro, now OPG, and
the Atomic Energy Control Board (AECB), now the CNSC, indicates that
three design changes which AECB considered “major” occurred late during
the public comment process....and that the public was neither notified
nor given the opportunity to comment on the changes.
First of all, are you aware that there was a design change
midway through the public consultation process?
Mrs. Cait Maloney: In fact, there was not a design change.
Both those designs were available in the public documents at the time.
In the letters, both the operator and regulator would appear to
acknowledge that public notification and comment should occur. The correspondence
between Hydro and AECB surfaced during the discovery phase of Federal
Court proceedings between the Inverhuron and District Ratepayers’ Association
and respondents (Ontario Power Generation Incorporated, Atomic Energy
Control Board, Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Fisheries and Oceans)
What follows are excerpts from the chain of correspondence.
A copy of this information release and complete copies of the correspondence
with summary comments can be found at the web site of the Bruce Centre
for Energy Research and Information.
1. October 9, 1998: Hydro Acknowledges
Changes and Promises Public Notification
Letter from Ken Nash, Vice President, Nuclear Waste Management, Ontario
Hydro to Mr. Don Howard, Wastes and Decommissioning Division, Atomic Energy
Control Board (AECB).
The letter describes a new design for the Bruce nuclear site Dry
Storage Project. The new design contains a number of significant
differences when compared with the design option that had originally been
studied and proposed by Hydro to AECB. Nash assures AECB that Hydro will
make the changes known to the public as part of the required public process:
“The new system design will be communicated to the public
in BUFDSP Newsletter #6.”
No such communication occurred.
2. December 18, 1998: AECB acknowledges Changes
Should Key further Public Consultation
Letter from Bernard Richard, Program Analyst, Radiation and Environmental
Protection Division, Directorate of Environmental and Human Performance
Assessment, AECB to Mr. Cliff Barua, Commercial Chemicals and Nuclear Programs
Section, Environment Canada:
“The proponent, Ontario Hydro, has concluded their
design system study and has indicated three major design changes:”
Mr. Richard lists the three major changes and concludes that:
“The Atomic Energy Control Board, as the responsible
authority for this project, in consultation with the Canadian Environmental
Assessment Agency and the proponent (i.e. Hydro), has determined
that a further public consultation period was warranted. The intent
would be to provide the public with information on the above-mentioned
design changes and to address the concerns expressed during the initial
public consultation period.”
Three similar letters were sent at about the same time from the AECB
to other government departments.
3. January 25, 1999: Hydro asks that no further
Public Consultation on the Changes take place
Letter from Ken Nash, V.P., Ontario Hydro to Mr. Don Howard of AECB.
Nash asks AECB to intercede with the Canadian Environmental Assessment
Agency to expedite approval of the construction phase of the Dry Storage
Project without further public consultation:
“The purpose of this letter is to request that the
AECB formally request the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA)
to proceed with completion of the recommendation process for Ontario Hydro’s
proposed Bruce Used Fuel Dry Storage Project, leading to a decision by
the Environment Minister as soon as possible. As recently discussed
with you and other staff of the AECB, the environmental assessment (EA)
and licensing process is now on the project critical path. The in-service
date of July 2002 is essential to support the continued operation of the
Bruce nuclear units. Further review through the CEAA process
(i.e.: public consultation) would put the in-service
date at risk.”
Mr. Nash goes on to promise that Ontario Hydro “…undertakes
to provide an additional (public) information document by
February 28, 1999…”
4. February 25, 1999: Hydro puts conditions on
its Public notification: presses AECB to pursue license without public notification
Letter from Ken Nash, V.P., Ontario Hydro to Mr. Don Howard of AECB.
Nash includes a copy of the promised February 28th information document
(see above). However there is a condition attached to the publication
of the document.
“A copy of this document is enclosed for the AECB’s
information on the explicit understanding that Ontario Hydro will issue
the document only after the CEAA process has been completed.”
In other words, Ontario Hydro will issue the information document
to the public only after the entire process is complete. The document
was released to the public over two months after the Minister of the Environment
approved the project.
5. March 8, 1999: AECB Gets the Message, By-passes
Process and Fast Tracks Licensing of DSP
Letter from Don Howard of AECB to Ms. Marie-France Therrien of the
Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency.
“After careful review of the public comments, it is
still the conclusion of the Atomic Energy Control Board that all potentially
significant direct and cumulative environmental effects of the proposed
project have been adequately identified and addressed in the Comprehensive
Study and that the above-mentioned effects can be successfully mitigated
through the application of proven engineering technology and environmental
6. March 31, 1999: The matter is “Sent Upstairs”
to the Minister of Environment.
Memorandum to the Minister of Environment, the Hon. Christine Stewart,
from Sid Gershberg, President, Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency.
Gershberg recommends the Minister inform the President of the Atomic
Energy Control Board, Dr. Agnes J. Bishop, that :
“…you have concluded that the project is not likely
to cause significant adverse environmental effects and that you are referring
the project back to the AECB for action under subsection 37(1) of the
Canadian Environmental Assessment Act…(i.e.: licensing)
“If you accept this course of action, a letter to Dr.
Bishop has been prepared for your signature.”
The minister signed the letter on April 14, 1999 and effectively
the license for construction was granted without further public communication
or comment under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act.
Again, complete copies of the complete letters with summary comments
may be seen on the Friends of Bruce web site,
During the June 4th hearing of front of the Standing Committee
on Environment and Sustainable Development, Committee Vice Chair, Liberal
MP Karen Kraft Sloan, zeroed in on Hydro's failure to issue public notice
(see points 3, 4 and 5, above).
Karen Kraft Sloan: ...We're talking about
a new period of public comment--and there was also a requirement to disseminate
new design information to the public. I'm wondering why that did not happen.
Two days after Mrs. Cait Maloney's and Mr. Larry Chamney's appearances
before the Standing Committee, Environmental Defence Canada lawyer Rodney
Northey (see Bruce Centre IR 2002-9) was invited back to answer questions
from the Committee. Sannich Gulf Islands Alliance Party MP Gary Lunn had
this exchange with Mr. Northey:
Mr. Larry Chamney (CNSC): There was no agreement
for that. There were discussions between agency staff and CNC staff as
to the extent of public comments received and it was established that
the existing documentation in the comprehensive study report was adequate.
Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan: But if the proponent was willing
to send out this information in this newsletter, why was it then--I have,
on one hand, information that is telling me that the agency and AECB agreed
to a new period of public comment and that new design information be
disseminated to the public, so we have two different sides to a particular
story here. But if the proponent had said it was willing to send out a
newsletter with this information in December, then why wasn't it done?
Mr. Larry Chamney: The proponent conducts its public
consultation and public information program continuously. It was used
as part of the consultation on the comprehensive study, but it existed
prior to the project and it exists today. It uses newsletters to advise
the local communities of issues of importance to its facility. That was
the purpose of the newsletter. The purpose of the newsletter was not to
input into the comprehensive study report. That was a matter between the
agency and the CNC staff.
Mr. Gary Lunn: ...I'll
just get down to one real brief question for Mr. Northey, and I had a
Basically this all comes
down to as I see it and you've correctly outlined a number of discrepancies
the testimony of the
Nuclear Regulatory Safety Commission. I sense the frustration throughout
whole process for your
client, Mr. Chevrotiere (Inverhuron and District Ratepayer's Association
- IDRA) ,
that there was never
a panel review. Is that a fair statement?
Mr. Rodney Northey:
Mr. Gary Lunn: I mean
they (Inverhuron and District Ratepayer's Association - IDRA)
opposed to the project,
they wanted a panel review to ensure they were getting the best technology,
the best processes were
used to ensure they were doing it the very safest way for the protection
only environment but
also the residents of that area.
Mr. Rodney Northey:
I think that's a very apt description. The way I put it is it's a
world class scale
facility, it deserves
a world class scrutiny.
The volunteer community group, Inverhuron and District Ratepayers
Association (IDRA), under went 7 years of participation in public processes
and litigation (including cases heard in the Federal Court and Federal
Court of Appeal - the Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal).
The IDRA sought further information on the changes, as well as an independent
expert and complete environmental assessment (EA). The community
group argued that an independent EA was clearly provided for under the
Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, given the scope of the project
alone. The uncertainty surrounding the design changes should have
absolutely brought about the independent environmental assessment, as described
in the Act.
In written judgments, both the Federal Court and Federal Court
of Appeal said the court was not "an academy of science" and was not
qualified to rule on the matter. Nearly $100,000 in costs were
awarded by the three courts (including the Supreme Court) against the
IDRA in favour of the federal government and OPG. The IDRA also
incurred significant legal costs.
During previous testimony, the Standing Committee Vice Chair
of the day, Mr. Bob Mills, Canadian Alliance, Red Deer, expressed his
incredulity over the process the IDRA was forced to endure.
The Vice-Chair (Mr. Bob Mills (Red Deer, CA)
: I'm just following along on my colleague's comment. Again, I
guess it seems kind of unbelievable to me that something of this magnitude...and
as Mr. Reed said, once the 50 years is up, then they may apply for 100
years or whatever unless of course the technology becomes available to actually
destroy these wastes. And I'd like to follow up on that, too. It would
seem to be in all of our interests if we could do something about that.
You mentioned the technology, that there is some work being done on it.
The official transcripts of the hearings of the Standing Committee
on Environment and Sustainable Development which concern the Bruce nuclear
waste site (those dated May 23, May 29, June 4, June 6) and from which
unofficial versions we have quoted in Bruce Centre IR 2002-9 and IR 2002-10
should be available approximately 2-3 weeks following each hearing date.
The transcript of June 4 contains a great amount of testimony and Committee
comments of concern on issues such as incidences of childhood leukemia, failure
to err on the side of safety when there is uncertainty, and the nature of
decision making under duress as related to the Bruce site.
But the real thing is the insignificance of cancer to those
proponents, to those people who live there, those residents just can't
be underestimated. It would seem to me that getting all of the facts on
the table would have to be to your best interest, would have been to the
power plant's best interest, to everybody's best interest to just have
the review, look at the health situation, because as soon as you avoid
a review it seems to me that you are trying to hide something and that
you are in fact helping to hide what the residents of the area think may
or may not happen to them. I'm no expert on that. I don't know.... But
it would just seem to me it would have been in the best interest to have
that review and I wonder why you fought them so hard through the court system.
Normand de la Chevrotiere, President of the IDRA can be reached