During the Day 2 Darlington nuclear relicensing hearing, Tristan Willis and Hannah Gladstone will post daily updates providing a look inside a CSNC hearing. This is the first of a series of four.
The Darlington Nuclear Generating Station (DNGS) relicensing hearing got underway, after a four hour delay, at 2:30 pm on November 2nd; the first of a four day public hearing.
Situated in an innocuous looking church just off of Highway 401, intervenors, commission members and industry representatives gathered to discuss OPG’s Darlington license renewal where they have asked for an unprecedented 13-year license renewal.
Dr. Michael Binder, President of the CNSC, started the Day-2 hearing on an interesting note: a reminder that the CNSC is a quasi-judicial tribunal that is independent from financial interests, political affiliations, and even from CNSC staff. He went on to note that the Day-2 hearing is meant to be a forum for the public to voice their concerns, and have those concerns addressed.
OPG and CNSC staff began the day by overviewing the safety and protective measures of the site with regards to personnel, the public, waste management, the environment and emergency procedures.
Once the interveners got their comments underway, several issues came to the forefront of the day’s discussions.
Of particular note was the issue of public participation. As one citizen intervenor brought up, with such a long relicensing term, the opportunities for transparency and public scrutiny will be severely limited.
The CNSC staff responded to this concern by indicating that, in their opinion, there were adequate provisions for public participation through the existing CNSC processes. These include the annual regulatory oversight report each August where the CNSC admits written interventions. Last year they received 5 or 6. In contrast, there will be 79 oral interventions over the course of the next four days. It’s hard to deny that longer licensing periods will mean less public participation and oversight.
The CNSC staff also emphasized that lots of information is available to the public through proactive disclosures and monthly status reports. However, these sources of information provide no forum for public comment.
Closing the afternoon session, Waterkeeper took the floor to voice concerns over fish kills, stormwater runoff and environmental monitoring. Here is a more detailed description of our submissions.
Two areas of discussion during LOW’s submission were stormwater runoff and fish kills. Commission members seemed surprised that stormwater from the site runs directly into Lake Ontario and is not regularly monitored. The Commission asked OPG whether they are currently complying with the Fisheries Act. OPG argued that they are able to comply because the they can ‘discount’ the tens of thousands of round goby they kill each year (round goby is an invasive species). Waterkeeper disagreed, noting that there is nothing in the current authorization that allowed this ‘discounting.’
Another interesting moment came when a Department of Fisheries and Oceans representative stated that they were aware of OPG’s non-compliance since 2007.
Some of these issues may be revisited in the days that follow. The Commission will also hear a range of community concerns, including issues about nuclear safety and emergency planning.