Public Hearing and Canadian Environmental Assessment Act

Earlier today I got the news that the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) will hold a public hearing on September 29 in Ottawa. The notice can be downloaded as a PDF from the CNSC Web site. I have repeated it here in HTML for those who prefer not to download documents.

July 29, 2010
Ref. 2010-H-09
The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) will hold a one-day public hearing to consider the application by Bruce Power Inc. (Bruce Power) for a transport licence for the shipment of 16 steam generators by ship through the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway to Sweden for recycling in the fall of 2010, from Bruce Power’s site located in Kincardine, Ontario.
Hearing: September 29, 2010
Place: CNSC Public Hearing Room, 14th floor, 280 Slater Street, Ottawa, Ontario
Time: as set by the agenda published prior to the hearing date

The public hearing will be webcasted live on the Internet via the CNSC Web site and archived for a period of 90 days.

The CNSC received a transport licence application from Bruce Power on April 1, 2010. The company proposes to transport 16 steam generators to Sweden for recycling. Since receipt of the application, Bruce Power’s proposal has been the subject of formal technical reviews by CNSC staff. No recommendation for the issuance of a transport licence will be made unless the Commission is convinced that the shipment will be completed safely, without risk to the health, safety or security of Canadians and the environment.

A low risk licence application like this one would normally be decided by a Designated Officer (DO). CNSC staff has concluded that there is no safety significance issues associated with the proposed shipment. However, in light of the public concern and the value to ensuring both a proper understanding of the scope of the undertaking and the presentation of accurate information relating to the health, safety and risk, the DO has asked that the Commission review the application at a one-day public hearing. The application has been added to a previously scheduled Commission hearing day on September 29, 2010. The public is invited to comment on Bruce Power’s application. Requests to intervene must be filed with the Secretary of the Commission by September 13, 2010 directly on line at or at the address below. The request must include the following information, as per the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission

Rules of Procedure:
A written submission of the comments to be presented to the Commission;
A statement setting out whether the requester wishes to intervene by way of written submission only or by way of written submission and oral presentation; and
Name, address and telephone number of the requester.

Personal information, such as address and telephone numbers, is essential for linking the submission to its author. Please submit your personal information on a separate page if you wish to ensure its confidentiality. It should be noted that all submissions are available to the public upon request to the Secretariat.

Bruce Power’s submissions and CNSC’s staff recommendations to be considered at the Hearing will be available after August 20, 2010. These documents are not available on-line and must be requested through the Secretariat at the address below. Agendas, hearing transcripts and information on the hearing process are available at the CNSC Web site:

c/o Louise Levert
Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission
280 Slater St., P.O. Box 1046
Ottawa, Ontario K1P 5S9
Tel.: 613-996-9063 or 1-800-668-5284
Fax: 613-995-5086

AWESOME! Public participation is double plus good.

Now back to the question of how to trigger an Environmental Assessment. I had a great conversation earlier today with someone from the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (keepers of the CEA Act). The CEA Act lets federal agencies know when actions they're taking require an Environmental Assessment. The CEA Agency can't just "randomly" decide that one needs to be done. It's up to each agency to comply with the rules and decide whether or not an EA is required.

Part III, Section 20 of the Inclusion List of the CEAA covers the abandonment, disposal and "other" release of nuclear substance into the environment. It does not cover transit explicitly. (Nothing seems to cover transit explicitly.) I have asked the CNSC if the contamination of the steam generators exceeds the amount covered in the CEAA. I've asked for a copy of the submission from CNSC and Bruce Power to the public hearing. I will also request a copy of the application from the CNSC...but I won't get my copy of the submission until after August 20th.

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission is just one agency that can trigger an EA. It seems as though the Department of Fisheries and Oceans can also trigger an EA...because if it puts fish at risk, DFO cares. I'm still trying to track down the right person at DFO. I've spoken with three of the wrong people so far.

My thanks to the CNSC for taking a moment to pause and listen. I appreciate your commitment to an open process.

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