MR. MATTSON: Good afternoon; Mark Mattson, President of Lake Ontario Waterkeeper.
My job is to -- and my purpose in life is to protect Canada’s waters, Lake Ontario. I’m a board member for Waterkeeper Alliance and secretary, and I’ve appeared before you many a times.
It’s about time we had this hearing into Canada’s oversight and decision-making process on the transport of nuclear waste, particularly as it relates to the Great Lakes.
One of the most alarming facts that keep coming up during this hearing is how much it’s occurred already. I heard rumours of uranium hexafluoride coming into the Oshawa harbour from Montreal -- rumours -- but I never had an opportunity to talk about it, to see what went on in terms of the decision-making process to allow that to happen; why no notice was given to the communities; what the safety provisions were or why this Commission wasn’t aware of it; why it was left at staff and now it’s being used as an excuse to justify this shipment. Somehow this proposal is a modest proposal compared to what’s happened in the past.
That’s not an excuse, Mr. Chairman. That’s an embarrassment. This Commission has now collected some of the most important people from around the Great Lakes, from eight states, two countries; international people. This is no longer just about the people at Port Hope where I’ve been and spoken to you, or Clarington or Bruce or Pembroke. The world’s watching now.
The Great Lakes are 20 percent of the world’s fresh water. Ninety-seven (97) percent of the water in the world is saltwater, 3 percent freshwater. Of that, only 0.5 percent is in lakes and rivers and 20 percent of it is under your jurisdiction. When I hear the Commission staff compare the standards of the IAEA and not have site-specific or standards that are specific to the drinking water of 40 million people -- the second-largest economy in the world -- and that they’re using standards that apply to saltwater or to other nations in their transport of nuclear waste, I’m embarrassed. And I think everybody in this room is embarrassed who deal with these issues.
The Great Lakes are one of the greatest resources to the world. You have a responsibility globally, nationally, and internationally. And to hear Commission staff use standards that apply to saltwater is an embarrassment.
I expected to come here and actually get in an argument as to what are the appropriate standards, what are the appropriate processes for talking to international communities, to the First Nations? What is the public interest onus? All these are necessary to understanding how this Commission is keeping Canada and the Great Lakes safe and how you’re taking into consideration the special relationship that the Great Lakes has to the people of Canada and the United States as opposed to the ocean-going traffic.
Instead, what I’ve heard is PR; deny, diminish, deflect, and applaud. Those are the four components of PR. That comes from people who feel that they have a right to something, not those who are seeking a privilege. These are what I learned when I worked on Bay Street representing the polluters; stick to that, never move away from it. Deny there’s any problem. If there is, diminish it. Call it Chap Stick, similar to a pacemaker. Talk about how you might get an x-ray; then deflect it. Talk about oil. Talk about the thousands of other trips around the world with nuclear waste. Talk about how technical it is. These are the sorts of things we’ve heard. And then the applauding. Mr. Hawthorne deserves a medal, he’s saying here today. This is public interest he’s claiming he’s acting in. This isn’t public interest. This is the first private company operating a nuclear power plant and if this was a public plant, it couldn’t undertake this proposal, period. Now, it’s private. All of a sudden, it doesn’t want to abide by the environmental assessment process that decided to leave these steam generators where they were. Now, he claims to be acting in the public interest. I’d like to see how his shareholders feel about that.
And then of course there’s the attack. Attack the public-interest people who aren’t paid to be here, who collect $10 memberships to come and pay their gas; stay over, who come here willingly to give meaning and force to the rules that these Commission staff work under; that you have the responsibility to listen to and to respect their submissions and they’re treated almost like pariahs, scaremongers, fools, incompetents while the other members who stand before you who are part of the club, the stakeholders, those who in any other court would not be allowed to come forward because of their connection through monetary interest to the issues and whose evidence should have no weight seem to be applauded and the public interest people attacked.
This is unacceptable, but thankfully we’ve learned a lot of good things here. We’ve learned that thank God steam generators don’t fit in a package or we wouldn’t even be having this hearing. We’ve learned that the risks are malleable. You can talk about Toronto and put it into the Great Lakes and say a thousand times this times this -- you know, use standards that make it seem very conservative.
But let me tell you as someone who has worked on the St. Clair River when Imperial Oil’s discharge went into the river, nobody knew that there were 13 drinking water plants on the American side between Sarnia and the Walpole Nation or three on the Canadian side.
The Ontario government since that time has put phone numbers and immediate notification of those people to turn off those plants if there’s an accident. I wonder if Bruce and the CNSC even know where the drinking water plants are or the phone numbers of the people who operate them. I wonder.
And I wonder when Bruce says it’s taking all precaution how the Nuclear Liability Act that limits and caps its liability and ultimately plays into its equation here. It can take the risk because if anything really goes wrong, even small, and those 13 plants have to turn off their water supplies, and even if there’s no damage done to people’s health but there’s economic damage to the restaurants, the hotels, to the tourism -- who’s going to pay for that? The Canadian taxpayer because of this decision, not Mr. Hawthorne.
If he’s so willing and so clear that this is so safe let him waive the provisions of the Nuclear Liability Act. And let the third party barge and traffic waive that. You don’t need Canada’s assurances. Canada has already decided in the public interest that these
steam generators should stay on the Bruce plant. If he wants to move them, let him take the risk and the liability.
I say deny it and I say that the evidence that you’ve heard in the last day and a half justify a warrant of reference to the Canadian government to set forward clear rules and guidance as to how nuclear waste should be shipped across the Great Lakes, under what conditions, with what public notification.
When I hear Mr. Hawthorne say he doesn’t need to notify anyone because it’s not in the rules, well then, you put it in the rules or call a reference to the Canadian government to make sure it’s in the rules because it’s the only way the Great Lakes will be protected for this generation and the next.
THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you. I hear applause for you here. So is it for you or --
MR MATTSON: It's because I cut two minutes and 50 seconds off my presentation.
THE CHAIRMAN: Oh, I see. Okay. Thank you. Floor is open. Who wants to go first? Okay, well let me start then. First of all, let me start with the liability. We’ve talked about the liability a long time, many times. I still think there is no understanding here about who pays. Somebody please help me on when does the nuclear liability get triggered and even then it is not purely the public -- the public purse is the last to pay if I understand correctly. I think that Bruce will, up to a very large amount of money in the millions, will have to pay. So they are liable for millions of dollars. I think we have an expert from CNSC who is willing to clarify that.
MR. MATTSON: I’d be interested to hear it.
MR. HOUGH: Paul Hough for the CNSC. The Nuclear Liability Act is triggered when there is in essence a loss of duty on the part of the operator and by that it means that there is nuclear material that has been released through an accident or an uncontrolled release. In other words, it has to be shown that there has been either physical injury or property damage before it comes into effect. But if that has been shown then the operator in this case has insurance to the amount of $75 million with the Nuclear Insurance Association of Canada and it is that insurance that kicks in first. So any claims that are made through the accident, the operator is solely liable. There are no other people that are subject to this kind of -- to being sued, et cetera. Any claims are handled through that $75 million. If the ultimate costs are greater than $75 million, then it is up to the government through a parliamentary process to allocate further funds to handle it. If that were the case, or if it was even considered that the amount that would be needed would be greater than $75 million, a tribunal would be set up completely separate from the existing Tribunal here in order to handle all the claims that would be coming in, and that tribunal would be provided with the funds if needed above $75 million from the federal government.
THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you.
MR. HOUGH: One final ---
MR. MATTSON: --- Nuclear Liability Act challenge 20 years ago -- I understand the Act. What I’m saying is that there’s no reason here why Bruce Power should be responsible for insuring the security and oversight of the safety of this trip as Mr. Hawthorne has said he is. He’s not the one who ultimately -- his company and shareholders are not the one who are on the ultimate hook here. The CNSC needs to take responsibility from ---
THE CHAIRMAN: Wait a second. I’ve got to stop you here because this is -- we’ve already been told at least a dozen times that Bruce Power is responsible and accountable for this project from our Bruce Power site to Sweden.
MR. MATTSON: Well, then let’s have them waive their liability provisions under the Nuclear Liability Act. Let’s not have it cover them.
THE CHAIRMAN: I have no idea what one’s got to do with the other because there’s other general insurance ---
MR. MATTSON: Because the Nuclear Liability Act understands that there’s a regulatory scheme that this Commission is enforcing that protects the public. You are an important part of the Nuclear Liability Act and your oversight ---
THE CHAIRMAN: Okay ---
MR. MATTSON: That’s the whole point of the Act. This puts ---
THE CHAIRMAN: You’re not in Bay Street and you’re not in front of a television. Can you ---
MR. MATTSON: Well, excuse me, Mr. Binder, but I drove all the way down here and I don’t ---
THE CHAIRMAN: Can you let somebody ---
MR. MATTSON: --- need to have personal attacks.
THE CHAIRMAN: Can you let somebody ---
MR. MATTSON: I don’t work on Bay Street. I’m a charitable lawyer, just for your information. And I don’t like the personal attacks.
THE CHAIRMAN: Have you finished?
MR. MATTSON: Every time I come before you ---
THE CHAIRMAN: Have you finished?
MR. MATTSON: --- you criticize people who talk about law. And that’s totally inappropriate.
THE CHAIRMAN: Have you finished?
MR. MATTSON: Are you going to apologize?
THE CHAIRMAN: No, I’m not.
MR. MATTSON: All right.
THE CHAIRMAN: Okay, Paul, one more time. I want to understand precisely who pays for what, whether it’s an accident that involves a nuclear or an accident that does not involve a nuclear incident.
MR. HOUGH: If there is an accident that involves the release of nuclear material that causes radiological damage, personal injury or damage, it is the NLA that pays through the insurance that the operator has to have if it is a designated facility. In other words, in this case all nuclear power plants are designated facilities and the role of the Commission is to specify which installations have to be designated and therefore have nuclear insurance. If there is an accident that is non-nuclear in nature with these steam generators or any other kind of accident, then it is the general liability insurance of the operator that applies.
THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you. Anybody else? Mr. Graham.
MEMBER GRAHAM: To your recommendation number three (3): "Public notification comment opportunities must be provided to all applicants to transferred radioactive waste on water". I realize you’re talking not only about this case but in the future. Is that correct?
MR. MATTSON: Yes, it is.
MEMBER GRAHAM: In this case, how much further or what other public notification and comment opportunities in your observation should be provided or needs to be provided?
MR. MATTSON: I think at a minimum, Mr. Commissioner, at least what was provided here to the public, that the Commission staff are considering giving approval to the transport of nuclear waste, allowing the communities the opportunity to seek a hearing such as the one we have today or potentially argue for an environmental assessment and ultimately public hearing. Without the notice there’s no opportunity and there’s no ability for the public to advise or participate or help the Board or the Commission ensure the safety of the community.
MEMBER GRAHAM: Okay. So what you’re saying is -- are you satisfied with the participation and the opportunity to intervene that has been presented with this application or this licence application?
MR. MATTSON: Satisfied may be strong. I’m happy that it took place. Obviously we did argue in our first submission that this, as Ms. McClenaghan, one of Canada’s most noted environmental scholars and head of the Canadian Environmental Law Association, has indicated, there is a link to the steam generator that would require a Canadian environmental assessment hearing. And we did agree with her on that and felt that this was worthy of a public review where the Proponent and the staff would have to testify under oath and could be cross-examined. That didn’t take place. That would have been what we thought was worthy given the importance to the Great Lakes on this issue but it didn’t occur, but we’re happy that we were given the chance to come here before you and speak.
THE CHAIRMAN: Monsieur Harvey?
MEMBER HARVEY: Just in your written document, Recommendation 5: “A proponent should not be able to radically change disposal plans that have been presented and approved as part of the EA outside the context of the…” I think we have had yesterday and maybe this morning an answer to that and are you satisfied with the answer that’s been given?
MR. MATTSON: No, I followed the hearing and although I’ve heard some rationalizations from the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, many of it from non- legal experts but engineers who are interpreting law, I don’t accept it. I believe that the public process that went into the environmental assessment at Bruce was fair, fulsome and complete and the company made promises, and if they want to change those promises or alter them under the environmental assessment process they should reapply and go through that structure to get the decision changed, not choose another path -- a different -- choose a different way to change and alter the environmental assessment process. And that -- you know, I’ve conducted over a hundred hearings, participated in many, many environmental assessments when they were done in the late ‘80s and 1990s and I know the importance that the public places and the promises that are made in hearings. I know the importance that the public places in trusting that those are followed through and the legitimacy of the Board in that decision. I don’t accept that this process should in any way replace, alter or deny the fairness that went into the EA in the first place and I do believe there should be an equal public process if you’re going to change the terms and conditions that were put in place on Bruce at that time.
THE CHAIRMAN: So you -- so just to understand -- so you view -- I think the question was asked by Dr. McDill whether EA should be considered more like a contract and I think they got an answer from staff that it is not. Are you of the view that it’s sort of a contractual obligation?
MR. MATTSON: Yeah, I don’t know where the analogy to a contract came from. It’s a quasi ---
THE CHAIRMAN: It was a question.
MR. MATTSON: Oh, it’s a quasi-judicial tribunal. The public participates with the legitimate expectation that its evidence will be heard and that the decisions will be binding and those decisions can only be overturned either by applying to the Minister with a specific reference or to conduct another environmental assessment process and have them changed. It’s not a contract, it’s a quasi-judicial process that gives a privilege to the proponent to put things on our water or in our air and if they’re going to change that privilege, they need to go through the process to do it like any of us would have to if we, for example, let our licence run out or we wanted to change who can drive on our car. You have to go back and do it again through the same process.
THE CHAIRMAN: Sure not the understanding of this tribunal, I can tell you that. Staff, can you react to that?
MR. RINKER: Mike Rinker for the record. I can maybe react to part of that and if I don’t capture it all, please clarify the question. In general, this Canadian Environmental Assessment Act applies to the CNSC so we must follow its legal obligations and CNSC staff have done that. We’ve gone through the process, we’ve followed the guidance provided by CEAA and we followed the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. It’s clear to us the Environmental Assessment Act is not legally triggered in this case. We don’t have the option to trigger one because we would like one, the law applies to us and we must follow ---
THE CHAIRMAN: No, no, no. Sorry, sorry to interrupt. But this is not the question. The question is once you get an environmental assessment done ---
MR. RINKER: Right.
THE CHAIRMAN: --- just like the one was done in 2005, must -- if you want to change that approach, must you start a new process altogether? In other words, it’s more like you need to go through a whole environmental assessment again.
MR. RINKER: Right. Thank you for the clarification. No, that is correct. The Canadian Environmental Assessment Act is a planning tool. The permitting process that actually allows the project to proceed is the licensing process that was followed by the Nuclear Safety and Control Act.
THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you. I have one last question. You made a point about salt water standard. I mean, I must say, I never heard of that. Can somebody clue me in -- what do you mean by that; by the salt water standard versus drinking water standard?
MR. MATTSON: To explain, Mr. Chairman, that the IAEA, which is an international standard, 97 percent of the world’s water is salt water. Very little of it is fresh water and very little of that fresh water is the sole source for drinking water for 40 million people. In fact, there is no other place like the Great Lakes. So in order to have standards that are protective of the Great Lakes, you need to take into consideration the use that’s being made of that water. You can’t apply standards that would apply to ocean water off New York City when New York City gets its drinking water from the Croughton Reserve. It doesn’t allow even homes or development or sewage or stormwater into it much less a nuclear power plant. You’re dealing with a very, very, very special privilege allowing the transport of waste on people’s drinking water. It’s not analogous to almost anything else in the world -- the Baltic, the Mediterranean, the Atlantic, the Pacific -- these standards apply to worldwide travel. You’re dealing with a special privilege ---
THE CHAIRMAN: Okay.
MR. MATTSON: --- a special use and that is the drinking water for these communities and to apply the IAEA standards? When I even read the standards and they say that special consideration needs to be taken into account for site specifics of each country and I haven’t even heard the CNSC staff say that they took into consideration the uses made on the Great Lakes specifically and added to or took away from those standards. Those are recommendations and you need to look at your citizens, your uses and the particular nature -- site specific nature of the Great Lakes in order to come up with your standards -- that’s your job And applying the IAEA ones which apply to 97 percent of the world’s other water is so ridiculous that I find it embarrassing.
THE CHAIRMAN: Staff?
MR. JAMMAL: For the record, Ramzi Jammal. Mr. President, there’s a couple of points I would like to make. Let’s not mix apples and oranges and watermelons here. There is a fact of A1, A2 values under the IAEA transport standards that takes into consideration certain things. But to answer the intervenor’s question specifically with respect to what staff did in evaluating the impact on the fresh water, I’ll refer to Mr. -- Dr. Mihok. But before I defer to Mr. Mihok, the intervenor made a comment about the Commission not aware of transport or the staff approving such processes. I would like to go on the record to confirm that this practice is an international practice. That at staff level the packaging and the transport licensing is approved. And it’s being applied right across the world. And I’m very grateful that the intervenors are here in order to be educated and discuss the issue, however, this practice with respect to the approval of the packaging, approval of the special arrangement licences is all done at the staff level. But I’ll pass on to Mr. Mihok.
MR. MIHOK: Steve Mihok. I can actually appreciate his point of view and to a certain extent agree with many of the things that he has said. We do have a framework, an international framework, for the protection of health. We have international frameworks for the protection of drinking water and so one and they are reached by consensus. There are differences of opinion there on what level is considered safe and literally as a representative of the Government of Canada as a public servant, I think as a scientist it’s my duty to support that consensus and the laws of the land. There will be differences of opinion and some people will want, let’s say, zero risk or a risk of, let’s say, one in a million for something like cancer as opposed to a dose of 1 millisievert or .1 millisievert. All these things essentially are taken into account when someone like me within the CNSC’s structure looks at what the risk is, whether it’s acceptable, whether it’s safe and we do listen to the concerns of the public and think about them. What I can say just to wrap up because I’m getting long winded here is that all these calculations that we do take into account the basic principles of the science underlying health risk. And in this particular case, you know, the sorts of calculations that were done were done with site specific parameters for the Great Lakes with a realistic credible scenario for what happened in the past when an actual large spill occurred as a way of calibrating what might happen in the case of a spill for this particular situation. And after all those analyses and after inserting a safety factor of a thousand or so, the numbers still come out in layman’s terms as being safe and that’s the sort of take home message that whether we apply standards from different sources, from different consensus exercises, all the numbers, I think, in a reasonable group of people in a court of record or whatever kind of court you want to come up with that the general opinion would be that these things are essentially safe. They aren’t with zero risk but they are essentially safe.
THE CHAIRMAN: But just to -- so I can translate what you just said into a bumper sticker that’s being used by intervenor here -- is you use this analysis on drinking water and not on salt water?
DR. MIHOK: Yes.
THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you. Anybody else would like to make a comment? You got the last point.
MR. MATTSON: I’ve only heard for a day-and-a-half these are the IAEA standards. I don’t know where or how the record can be so fundamentally changed all of a sudden. We were talking about 50 times, 6 times, they went to the IAEA for what’s safe. I never heard them once talk about the Fisheries Act, the teaspoon of oil in the Pacific Ocean as a deleterious substance supported by the Supreme Court of Canada. I never heard them talk about the Ontario Water Resources Act, the Environmental Protection Act. I never heard them talk about all the drinking water legislation that the provinces are putting in place or the American legislation. We’ve only heard of one reference that has applied to this entire approval, the IAEA. The IAEA oversees mostly -- almost 99.9 percent ocean-going traffic. You’re looking at the Great Lakes; 40 million people, second-largest economy. The number one primary characteristic of this area that keeps it wealthy and healthy is it’s water. The fact that it’s drinking water and it’s free and it’s at its doorstep. That’s what I want to hear. I want to hear that this Commission and this staff have looked at that aspect of this proposal, not just as it relates to this modest proposal of Bruce Nuclear -- or Bruce Power, but I want to know how it relates to all the other ones, the worst ones that have already happened that we didn’t know about and the ones that are going to come down in the future because that’s the role, the obligation of this Commission, and there’s no one else who’s doing it. As we heard Transport Canada is out, we heard yesterday, remember? They’ve left it to CNSC staff. The province is out. You didn’t go and negotiate with the Americans, so you’re it. And if they’re going to change the record now that somehow they looked at some standards on the Great Lakes, let’s hear about them.
THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you. We’ve got to move on. The next submission -- oh sorry, a break; I guess somebody needs a break here. We’re taking 10 minutes. I think at 4 o’clock, it’s a little bit more than 10 minutes; 4 o’clock. Thank you.