| The design of the Western Waste Management
Facility for high level radioactive waste storage at the Bruce nuclear
site was changed during the construction licensing process by the proponent,
Ontario Hydro (now Ontario Power Generation - OPG). Hydro originally proposed
a specially designed "Bruce Dry Storage Container", then (during the licensing
process and after the period of public comment had ended) switched its choice
to the "Pickering Dry Storage Container" design.
The regulator of the day, Atomic Energy Control Board, labled the changes "major" (see letter chain below) and suggested public consultation was necessary. But Hydro put the pressure on AECB, as outlined below, and the license to build the waste facility was granted, based on a reference design which was no longer applicable, and without any public notice or opportunity for comment.
The document below (and our Information Release 2002-10 ) contain excerpts from the trail of letters and memos sent between the proponent (Ontario Hydro), the regulator (Atomic Energy Control Board) and other officials during the licensing term, and an explanation of their relevance. In the document below, each excerpt contains a link to the complete letter or memo which contain some annotation and are in pdf format. You will require a program called Adobe Reader to read the letters. Adobe Reader is available free from ADOBE .
|A chain of letters between
Ontario Hydro (now OPG) and the Atomic Energy Control Board (AECB),
now the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, indicates that three design
changes which AECB considered “major” occured late during the licensing
process for a high level waste storage facility at the Bruce nuclear site....and
that the public was neither notified nor given the opportunity to comment
on the changes.
In the letters, both the operator and regulator acknowledge that public notification and comment should occur (see “The Letters” below). 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) in 1999.
What follows are excerpts from the chain of correspondence between Hydro and the AECB, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency and the Minister of Environment written during the licensing period. To view complete copies of the letters, tap the links on the dates of each letter excerpt. The file will appear in .pdf format.
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 management practices.”
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, effectively licensing the construction without further public communication or comment under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act.
An information release issued on June 14, 2002 by the Bruce Centre provides context for this chain of correspondence. To view the information release, follow this link .