The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) is conducting a review of its Rules of Procedures and By-laws, seeking feedback on the public's experience with them, and asking for proposals for possible amendments.
Waterkeeper believes that the CNSC must follow proper procedures in discharging their functions and arriving at their decisions. In other words, the CNSC should make every decision fairly. What is "proper", we believe, is dictated by laws and by facts.
In the case of law, the CNSC is the principle regulator of all things nuclear. Increasingly, all other regulators are deferring to the CNSC when their interests overlap. In the case of fact, it is no longer "Peace, Order and Good Government" that drives the industry, but the profit imperative: more and more players in the Canadian nuclear field are private corporations such as Cameco Corporation, Bruce Power, and SRB Technologies.
Clearly, the CNSC's world is changing. Waterkeeper is concerned that current problems prevent the Commission from adequately responding to those changes.
Our concerns include:
The adjudicative functions of the CNSC are not separate from the administrative functions. (More)
There is little due process at CNSC hearings. Public submissions are limited to ten minutes, but the proponents' submissions are not. The public is rarely granted permission to cross-examine others. Witnesses do not swear to tell the truth.
There is a financial incentive for private companies seeking licences, amendments, project approvals, etc. to participate fully. At the same time, there is a financial disincentive for members of the public who must travel to Ottawa, hire their own expert advice, and typically take time away from work and family to do so.
In light of these concerns, Lake Ontario Waterkeeper believes that a thorough review will conclude that "proper procedures" at the CNSC should be amended to mirror natural justice and fairness. This is the case at the National Energy Board, the Ontario Energy Board, and every other Canadian Public Utility Board. The Commission's decisions ultimately affect Canada's economy, environment, security, and the health of its citizens. With the stakes this high, why should the CNSC be any different?
Look for Waterkeeper's formal submission soon. Submit your own comments by December 22, 2005:
CNSC Headquarters 280 Slater Street PO Box 1046, Station B Ottawa, ON K1P 5S9 Fax: 613.943.5366