New Clear Free Solutions Natural Resources Committee Brief on Bill C-22

Natural Resources Committee Members

My name is Chris Rouse and I represent New Clear Free Solutions. The purpose of New Clear Free Solutions is to provide energy oversight to the public and official decision makers using scientifically objective regulatory and financial information. The objective of New Clear Free Solutions is to help ensure safe, affordable, and sustainable energy solutions for the Canadian public and environment.

As such we are writing you in regards to the Nuclear Liability and Compensation Act that is before the Natural Resource Committee. Even though the revision from $75 million liability to $1 billion liability is a good step, a responsible government can only set the limit based on the assumption that nuclear power in Canada is safe. If it is not safe, there should not be a limit put on it. This is a similar position of all insurance policies.

After three years of public participation with the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, it is our opinion that the industry is grossly mismanaged, has succumbed to regulatory capture by the industry, and has truly forgotten the very definition of safety. Point Lepreau and Pickering are not safe. This has not even been reported, even though it has been known by the CNSC for over a year.
The definition of safety as used in Article 1, the short title of the Nuclear Safety and Control Act, has a very specific legal meaning that was agreed to when Canada signed onto the Convention of Nuclear Safety. This definition along with the phrase nuclear “nuclear safety” and a definition and formula for “risk” are the fundamental principles that make up the regulatory framework set in the Nuclear Safety and Control Act (NSCA).

These definitions cannot be found on the CNSC website, or any regulatory documents. After many attempts to get them from the CNSC our group has decided that we will have to officially ask for them through Accesses to Information, as we have not gotten the proper definitions from the CNSC. We consider this to be gross mismanagement by the CNSC because one of the Objects of the Commission in the NSCA is to “disseminate objective scientific, technical and regulatory information to the public”. How can the CNSC tell the Canadian public that nuclear power is safe if they do not even know the definition of safety?

We ask the committee members to ask the CNSC for the legal definitions, agreed to in the Convention on Nuclear Safety, of the following:

1. Safety

2. Nuclear Safety

3. Risk

We also ask the committee members to ask the CNSC to familiarize themselves with these definitions and to use them in the decision making process. We believe that when these definitions are understood properly, Pickering and Point Lepreau are no longer considered safe nuclear facilities.

The CNSC staff has always presented the Probabilistic Safety Assessment (PSA) as the sum of all of the risks, like the definition and formula for risk directs you to do. Last year at the Pickering Hearings, Greenpeace noted that the CNSC staff forgot to add in the Wind PSA model Large Release Frequency to the total risk, and when it was added the large release safety goal limit was exceeded. In response to this OPG convinced the commission that there was no agreed upon method for aggregating risk (summation) for external events, and that they compared the individual PSA models to the safety goal limits not the total. CNSC staff did nothing to correct this misleading information. A year after these hearings, the CNSC have changed their opinion and now agree with OPG that the individual PSA models should be compared to the safety goal limits instead of the sum of all the PSA models being compared to the safety goal limits. CNSC staff have recommended that the commission remove the hold point even though the total risk (summed) shows that Pickering is not safe. Nothing within the licencing basis suggests that the risk should not be totalled. It is our opinion that this shows that CNSC staff have succumb to regulatory capture, and are not providing the commission members with good advice.

For more details and the legal definitions please read our latest intervention to the CNSC:

Although not knowing these definitions should be a clear sign of mismanagement we have other concerns:

1. CNSC staff made an unauthorized change to the Point Lepreau Licence Condition Handbook (LCH). We brought this to the commissioner’s attention at the 2012 annual public meeting. There are three conditions that must be met in order for the CNSC staff to make a change. The first is that the proper procedures must be followed which were not. The second is that the change could only be equal to or greater than that which was originally in the LCH, which in this case, it was not. Third, is that the commission members are to be notified in the annual report of any changes that were made in the LCH, which again was not done. The commission allowed the annual report to be tabled in Parliament, stating that no change had been made to the LCH. We brought this up again at the Pickering Hearings last year, and the individual responsible for the change stated he made the change and didn’t tell anyone because he didn’t want to confuse the issue. We requested that this be investigated by the CNSC office of Audit and Ethics, but this was not done.

2. At the 2011 licencing hearings we requested the commission direct NB Power to do a site specific seismic hazard study for the Pt Lepreau generating plant. The commission granted this request. The preliminary results show that NB Power underestimated the probability of a large release of radiation from earthquakes by a factor of 40 and that Pt Lepreau is significantly above the limit that is considered safe. NB Power and CNSC staff attended a meeting where our press release on this topic was discussed but they failed to take minutes.

3. A Natural Resources Canada report released in Oct 2012 shows that the risk of a tsunami hitting the Atlantic coast is “significant”. NB Power is now doing a site specific tsunami hazard study. This new knowledge of the level of risk increasing has not been officially reported as required by their licence. The tsunami and seismic studies should have been completed before refurbishment not after. The CNSC staff had originally closed the Fukushima Action Item related to external hazards for Lepreau, but reopened it after we expressed concern.

4. We have observed many organizational problems within the CNSC. Our concerns are amplified by the complaints of 57 CNSC employees that stated in the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada’s “Big Chill” survey, that they were aware of political interference that has compromised safety. These results stood out from other agencies polled. These results are also discussed in the CNSC union meeting minutes, as well as a history of workplace incivility.

5. Premature closure of many of the Fukushima Action Items from the Fukushima Action Plan is concerning. This concern is repeated by intervener, Dr. Nijhawan, a nuclear safety engineer with over 30 years of active CANDU safety work. He pioneered the integrated severe accident evaluation work in Canada and developed computer codes and computational aides used by CANDU utilities worldwide. In his intervention to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, he strongly opposes the premature closing of several Fukushima Action Items saying it is “dangerously irresponsible and on many counts puts the safety of Canadians at risk”. He requested an independent review of a very serious issue he identified that could cause a containment bypass with large releases of radiation expelled directly into the atmosphere within hours of a station blackout like Fukushima. His request for an independent review was undertaken, but the scope of the review did not address his concern and was in his opinion, of no value. The commission now considers this very high consequence item closed without further discussion.

6. A recent Judicial Review has overturned the EA and license to prepare site for the Darlington new builds which were recommended by CNSC staff.

These are only a small fraction of our concerns surrounding the safety of nuclear power in Canada. We request that the Auditor General audit the management of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, taking into account the many public concerns with the CNSC. We would be pleased to present to the committee any further information that it requests.

Chris Rouse
New Clear Free Solutions

One thought on “New Clear Free Solutions Natural Resources Committee Brief on Bill C-22

  1. Pingback: Canadian Nuclear SAFETY Commission Regrets They Can’t Find The Definition of SAFETY | New Clear Free Solutions

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