Mr. Alan Graham, Chair
Darlington New Nuclear Power Plant Project
Joint Review Panel
Place Bell Canada
160 Elgin St., 22nd Floor
Ottawa, ON K1A 0H3
March 17, 2011
Dear Mr. Graham, Ms. Beaudet, and Mr. Pereira:
We are writing to formally request that the upcoming Darlington New Nuclear Power Plant hearing be postponed in light of the CNSC's statement the Joint Review Panel will consider the recent events in Japan during the Darlington hearing.
On March 16, 2011, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission distributed a notice stating:
As a result of the Japanese nuclear incident, the CNSC is reviewing the safety cases for all of Canada's nuclear facilities, as is normal practice when events occur in the nuclear industry. The CNSC is actively monitoring events in Japan, and will work with its international colleagues, including the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), to identify and take into account any relevant lessons learned for implications on Canadian facilities. This will start March 21, 2011 with the Joint Review Panel public hearings about the Environmental Assessment and site licensing of new reactors in Darlington, Ontario, and will continue with the re-licensing hearing, including refurbishment, of the Gentilly-2 facility in Becancour, Quebec, on April 13 - 14, 2011.
Lake Ontario Waterkeeper agrees with the CNSC's decision to identify and take into account relevant lessons from Japan when assessing the Darlington New Nuclear Power Plant. The assessment of a new nuclear facility in Ontario would be incomplete and insufficient if it did not include lessons from the nuclear crisis in Japan.
We disagree with the CNSC's suggestion that relevant lessons from Japan can be considered beginning March 21, 2011 for several reasons, including but not limited to the following:
- The Panel cannot conduct a complete assessment without considering the relevant lessons from the Japan crisis;
- Those lessons have not yet been identified;
- As a result, those lessons are available to neither the Panel nor the public.
Our request is based both on procedural concerns and on a sincere desire to ensure that the environmental assessment and licencing process lead to appropriate and informed decision-making.
Waterkeeper and other participants have been preparing for the Darlington hearing for years. For example, as a CEAA-funded intervenor, Waterkeeper has reviewed the available documentation, consulted independent experts, and prepared written comments for the Panel. Our written analysis as well as our presentation materials have already been provided to the Panel. The same is true for other hearing participants. We understand the enormous preparation effort required to develop thoughtful, informed, and relevant submissions for the Panel.
As this is a quasi-judicial legal proceeding, it is not possible to consider the events in Japan a) before verifiable and complete evidence regarding those events is available, and b) without providing that information to intervenors for review and further submissions. According to section 34 of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, the Review Panel must, "ensure that the information required for an assessment by a review panel is obtained and made available to the public". As the Panel will now be considering new and evolving information from Japan, this information must be collected and made available to the public. Further, the public must then have the opportunity to review and respond to the new information, in accordance with the common law rules of procedural fairness.
Waterkeeper formally requests a postponement of the Darlington NNPP hearing until such time as the requisite information is prepared, made available to the Panel, and made available to the public for review.
President and Waterkeeper