Please be advised that Lake Ontario Waterkeeper would like to make a presentation to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission on November 27, 2003. The presentation deals with the Cameco Corporation's Slightly Enriched Uranium project environmental assessment. An outline of the presentation is as follows.
The project is a provincial issue, not just a Port Hope issue. Therefore, the boundaries of the assessment and public notice areas must be expanded.
[The scoping document describes the Regional Study Area as, the portion of Lake Ontario abutting, and used by, the community for such activities as recreation, water supply, and waste water discharge. The document indicates that the boundaries are flexible, which is why Waterkeeper is requesting they be expanded to include the entire province to protect all communities affected by the project: (mining), Port Hope (processing), Chalk River (waste disposal), Lake Huron/Bruce Peninsula (use at nuclear plant). The current reach for communications/ public information is limited to the Port Hope region (1.7.2 of the Project Proposal) so most of the province is still in the dark about this proposal.]
Since the SEU is being manufactured for use at the Bruce Nuclear Plant and for use in new CANDU reactors, the proponent must a) prove that there is a demonstrable need for the product from these sources, and b) comprehensively assess the environmental impacts of these uses. This is the application of the independent utility principle.
[SEU- Slightly Enriched Uranium. a) The CNSC is using its discretion to require the proponent to demonstrate the need for the project and its potential benefits (s.16(1)(e) of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act). The proponent has not, however, shown statistical data to prove that there is a market for this SEU and/or a market for CANDU reactors overseas (s. 1.5 of the project proposal). Without this need, there is no reason to process SEU (see next point).
b) The independent utility principle is used in US law. According to this principle, when determining the scope of an assessment, it is necessary to consider whether a work has any independent utility. In the case of Friends of the West Country Assn.v. Canada  2 F.C. 263, the construction of a bridge had to undergo an environmental assessment. Federal Court ruled that the logging and road-building activities the bridge was intended to facilitate had to be included in the environmental assessment because the bridge without a road was evidently of little utility. In the Port Hope case, we believe that the use of SEU in CANDU reactors must be included in the environmental assessment because the production of SEU without an end user is of little utility.
The project must consider potential cumulative impacts of the ongoing Port Hope Project. Further, the project must consider the potential cumulative impacts of continuing and/or expanded uranium refining operations on the restoration of the Port Hope harbour and community.
[The Port Hope Project is an ongoing Environmental Assessment intended to clean up 6 old radioactive waste sites in the Port Hope area. The disposal sites are called storage sites and are designed to last 500 years. The Port Hope Project is a big project for the town, has been going on for years and will go on for the entire duration of this SEU Environmental Assessment. There is no mention in the scope of the fact that, at the same time Cameco is proposing to expand its uranium refining activities, the federal government is spending millions of dollars and struggling to deal with a serious legacy of pollution from the same source.
Port Hope Harbour, where Cameco is located, is also an internationally recognized Area of Concern. Canada and Ontario have made international commitments to the United States to clean this site up. There is no discussion of the clean up goals in the environmental assessment, and Cameco has not demonstrated that processing SEU at the facility will help all levels of government to achieve those clean-up obligations.]
Any citizen should be encouraged to participate in the development of VECs. Where VECs established for the Port Hope Project are more comprehensive, this project should adopt those standards.
[VEC Valued Ecosystem Components environmental attributes identified as having legal, scientific, cultural, economic, or aesthetic value. These are used to evaluate the success/impacts of a project.]
The RA should immediately request that the Minister of Environment refer this project to a panel review. While the EA guidelines are more comprehensive than most screenings, they still create far more questions than answers. Only the rigorous scrutiny of the panel review can facilitate legitimate public participation and responsibly and fairly address concerns regarding the nature of the project, the history of contamination in Port Hope, property values, health impacts, waterfront restoration, and the potential for policy and environmental impacts throughout the province.
[RA Responsible Authority in this case, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission. RAs have the power to upgrade an environmental assessment from a screening (the most basic EA process consisting of ?notice and comment? to the most effective EA process, the independent panel review. (s. 25 of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act)]