TORONTO – Public interest groups are disappointed in a Federal Court of Appeal decision that found that the lack of public review of severe accidents and long term storage of nuclear waste is lawful if the nuclear regulator says so.
“We are disappointed and studying the ruling,” said Lake Ontario Waterkeeper President, Mark Mattson. “But more importantly the ruling shows that there’s a need to modernize Canada’s environmental assessment legislation. Assessments need to have public input and fully consider the effects a major nuclear accident could have on nearby communities.”
The Apr. 13 ruling came in response to an appeal of a Federal Court decision that refused to overturn an environmental assessment of Ontario Power Generation’s proposal to rebuild four aging nuclear reactors at the Darlington power plant.
“Canada’s environmental assessment laws were designed to ensure public review and the right for the public to be heard in making such decisions,” said Mattson. “Allowing the nuclear regulator to sidestep long term nuclear waste and severe accidents in the decision-making process, or to discuss them behind closed-doors puts our health and the environment at risk and undermines the intent of our environmental laws to ensure the public can hold decision-makers accountable.”
Lake Ontario Waterkeeper, Northwatch, Canadian Environmental Law Association and Greenpeace are currently reviewing the decision to determine if further action will be taken.
The groups, represented by lawyers from Ecojustice and the Canadian Environmental Law Association, have applied to the Supreme Court of Canada seeking to overturn a Federal Court of Appeal ruling which they say allows regulators to avoid careful consideration of serious environmental and human health impacts in a separate plan to build new nuclear reactors at the Darlington site.