On June 20, 2008, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) sent out an email message inviting the public to comment on a draft document entitled Process Improvement Initiatives for Screening Environmental Assessments at the CNSC. This Restructuring Documentâ€ creates the framework for significant changes in the way that the CNSC conducts environmental assessments and issues some licences.
The Commission issues licences under the Nuclear Safety and Control Act ("NSCA"). Generally, these licences are required before any person possesses, transports, mines or processes nuclear substances or constructs or decommissions nuclear facilities (see s. 26, NSCA). Often, applications for licences under this Act trigger the federal EA process mandated in the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act.
Under the CEAA, there are three kinds of EAs: screening assessments provide the lowest level of scrutiny and are often conducted by the proponent; comprehensive study assessments are somewhat more thorough and are triggered when a proponent applies for a specific type of licence listed in the Comprehensive Study List Regulations; panel reviews and mediation provide the highest level of scrutiny and independent-decision making and are typically discretionary.
The CNSC's Restructuring Document separates screening-level EAs into two tiers. This proposed framework creates a â€œstreamlinedâ€ process for what the CNSC labels â€œSmaller or Lower-Risk Projects and Screenings. The primary purpose of these new procedures is to reduce the amount of time that it takes for an applicant to complete the EA and licencing processes.
According to the CNSC's invitation to comment, this restructuring proposal is aligned with the Cabinet Directive on Streamlining Regulation, which came into effect on April 1, 2007. The primary aim of this Cabinet Directive is to determine where the approvals process can be streamlined and where resources should be focused.
Canada's newly created Major Projects Management Office is, according to the CNSC, a "change driver" for the federal government's restructuring process. The MPMO was established to improve the performance of the federal regulatory system for major natural resource projects. The Office reports to the Minister of Natural Resources; its creation was supported by industrial lobby organizations such as the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association, the Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada, and the Mining Association of Canada.
In our comments, supported by the Canadian Environmental Law Association, Ottawa Riverkeeper, and Petitcodiac Riverkeeper, we recommend that the CNSC reject the proposed streamlining process for a number of reasons:
- The projected efficiency gains are dubious
- There is a false distinction between complex and smaller projects
- The elimination of meaningful public consultation is unacceptable
- The elimination of public consultation in the early stages of environmental assessment contradicts the CNSC's stated goals
- The Integrated Approach for environmental assessments will lead to confusion and the appearance of bias
- Licencing and environmental assessment processes have different aims
- The relationship with the MPMO contributes to the appearance of bias
- Delegation of decision-making to CNSC staff further weakens the Commission's authority
- There has been inadequate public consultation on the restructured process
You can read Waterkeeper's full comment here.
This week on the Living at the Barricades Podcast, we ask: What does regulatory restructuring mean for the public interest and public consultation? And, how will these changes affect communities struggling for environmental justice?
Waterkeeper will be attending the following event in Kingston, ON on July 22, 2008:
PUBLIC SPACE -- PUBLIC WATER
Come out and show your support for restoring Richardson Beach (just east of Murney Tower, at the foot of Emily St.). The purpose of this event is to demonstrate the need for infrastructural improvements that would allow for safe, public swimming for all in Lake Ontario. The swim will take place rain or shine.
We will be getting into the water at 6pm on Tuesday July 22. Bring footwear to protect your feet (one of the reasons for improving the site!). Note: This is an unsupervised beach and people swim at their own risk.
There will also be an information and consultation session by the City of Kingston from 6:30-8:00 pm. City officials will present their preliminary plans for restoring the historic Richardson Bath House, as well as improving access to the water for swimmers.
The following organizations will be on hand to provide additional information about water quality, public space and local history.
KFLA Public Health
Kingston Historical Society
Lake Ontario Water Keepers
The waterfront at Richardson Beach has been enjoyed as a public space since the late 1800s. It features a beautiful bath house constructed in 1919 and dedicated To the Children and Citizens of Kingston. Despite overall improvements in water quality, the beach has fallen into disuse over the last two decades. We now have an opportunity to bring public swimming back to the heart of Kingston.
This initiative is being undertaken to encourage a speedy restoration of the site, and to build support for public water and public space in Kingston.
For more information contact Jamie Linton (firstname.lastname@example.org, tel. 344-0232) or David McDonald (email@example.com, tel. 546-9710).
Make a donation to Lake Ontario Waterkeeper before August 3rd, 2008 and help us double your donation through the All At Once match...We need only $250 to meet our target!
From March 1st -September 14th , 2008 The Jack Johnson Ohana Charitable Foundation has offered to match every dollar Lake Ontario Waterkeeper is able to raise through it's All At Once match for up to $2,500.00
With a membership donation to Lake Ontario Waterkeeper of $30.00 or more you could become eligible to win a pair of tickets to Jack Johnson's concert on August 3rd, 2008 at Burl's Creek Park in Oro, ON.
Remember to write allatonce in the memo line of your cheque or online donation, fill it in the comment box for online donations, or send us an email to confirm the match.
To securely donate online, click here.
Background on Jack Johnson's 2008 tour
Musician Jack Johnson's 2008 tour is committed to energy conservation and waste reduction. Trucks and coaches will operate on biodiesel helping to reduce potential CO2 emissions by 78%. All festival merchandise will focus on sustainable materials, reuseables and renewables. Lake Ontario Waterkeeper will be participating in â€œThe Village Greenâ€ located on the concert grounds. The Village Green will represent local groups and a few national organizations at booths and will be a place to learn about local and national environmental issues, how to take immediate personal steps, and help to create long-term solutions.
Check out Jack Johnson's All at Once Community at the website: www.allatonce.org