Letter 20091205 Standing Committee on Natural Resources Bill C-20

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Letter 20091205 Standing Committee on Natural Resources Bill C-20


Bill C 20


The Standing Committee on Natural Resources
6th Floor, 131 Queen St.,
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0A6
fax 613 996 1626
December 5th, 2009

Dear Committee Chair:

Re: Bill C-20 Nuclear Liability and Compensation Act

The National Council of Women of Canada, representing hundreds of thousands of Canadian women of diverse backgrounds through its affiliated memberships of 21 Nationally Organized Societies, 6 Provincial Councils and 15 Local Councils, has long standing policy on nuclear power, that, among other things, advocates for a phase out of nuclear power in Canada .

NCWC has consistently warned the government of the huge costs of building and upgrading nuclear plants, most of which are near the end of their life-cycles; the lack of stringent regulatory control; the dangers of radioactive emissions, such as those of tritiated water released by nuclear plant operators into the Great Lakes at levels far above international standards, or accidentally released from nuclear -related industries into the Ottawa River; the failure to date of dealing successfully with radioactive waste which must be kept secure for many thousands of years; the minute, but potentially enormous, threat posed by human actions, e.g., terrorism; and the dangers posed by the locations of Ontario’s Pickering, Darlington and Bruce reactors – at the edge of our treasured Great Lakes, Ontario and Huron, and, in Pickering’s case, directly on top of an active earthquake fault.

Most recently, the National Council of Women of Canada has noted the issues of new nuclear plant cost over-runs in Canada and elsewhere, as well as the design difficulties facing the proposed new Generation 111 nuclear plants, of AECL in Canada and others such as France’s Areva-designed plant in Finland .

All of these issues regarding nuclear power point to the very real risks to Canadians living near nuclear plants in new Brunswick, Ontario and Quebec, and indeed, the economic dangers to all Canadians should a serious accident take place in the industrial heartland of Ontario. For instance, US reports from the 1980s predicted enormous impacts and billions of dollars in lost revenues should an accident happen in a populated area, and the current US required liability is set $10 billion. In Japan liability requirements for plant owners is in the trillions of dollars.

While NCWC lacks specific policy regarding nuclear liability, being increasingly aware of predicted immediate costs of a nuclear accident and most significantly the enormous physical, environmental, emotional and ongoing financial burdens that such an accident would place on those living nearby a nuclear plant and much further away, we know that even Bill C-20s proposed requirement for nuclear generators to carry $650 million of insurance cannot possibly begin to cover one accident.

NCWC urges the Standing Committee to use a precautionary approach to Bill C-20 that will be as proactive and protective of Canadians as possible, which in our view means that all potential costs, including a worst case scenario should be included in your calculations of the neccessary financial resources should an accident occur.

Thank you for your attention to our views.


Karen Dempsey, President

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