Environmental Groups Ask Prime Minister To Strengthen Nuclear Safety

A dozen environmental groups have joined together to ask Prime Minister Trudeau to strengthen the country’s nuclear safety law to address weaknesses exposed by the Fukushima disaster.

12 organizations have written an open letter to the Prime Minister to remind him that investigators found Fukushima was a man made accident because a lax regulator ignored the potential of earthquakes and tsunamis in that region.

The groups says the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission should not be promoting nuclear power, but should act as an independent and transparent body that provides opportunity for public participation.

“We’re worried the CNSC has become the cheerleader for the industry it is supposed to regulate. In light of the lessons learned from Fukushima, we urge the Prime Minister to restore the necessary independence and public trust in the CNSC,” said Theresa McClenaghan from the Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA).

“While other countries increased the independence and transparency of their nuclear regulators in the wake of Fukushima, Canada under Harper went in the other direction. It’s time for Canada to catch up and strengthen our nuclear safety legislation,” said Shawn-Patrick Stensil, Senior Energy Analyst at Greenpeace Canada.

The letter says the Harper government dismissed the former president of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, which exposed conflicts in the responsibilities of the president.

Since then the CNSC’s impartiality has been publicly questioned. As an example, the groups cite CNSC president Michael Binder’s criticism of Quebec’s independent environmental assessment board last year after it recommended against uranium mining.

It is calling for upgrades to approach to environmental assessments, clarification of the the commissions role in nuclear emergencies, and term limits for licences.

“Based on ongoing dealings with the CNSC and lessons from the Fukushima disaster, there’s an urgent need to modernize Canada’s nuclear safety law,” said Mark Mattson president of Lake Ontario Waterkeeper.

The groups who signed the public letter include the Association de protection pour l’environnement des Hautes-Laurentides, Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility, CELA, Coalition pour que le Québec ait meilleure mine, Coalition for a Green Clean Saskatchewan, Conservation Council of New Brunswick, Ecojustice, Greenpeace, the Inter-Church Uranium Committee, Lake Ontario Waterkeeper, MiningWatch Canada, Nature Quebec, New Clear Free Solutions, Northwatch.

Bruce Power has declined an interview instead suggesting Blackburn News contact the CNSC.  Blackburn News is waiting for a response from the CNSC to this letter.