The Honourable Peter Kent, Minister of Environment House of Commons
February 26, 2013
Dear Minister Kent,
In a letter of February 19th the National Council of Women of Canada (NCWC) requested that you authorize a full-panel CEAA Environmental Assessment for Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC), Atomic Energy of Canada (AECL) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) plans to “expedite” approval of multiple transfers of intensely radioactive liquid waste from the Fissile Solution Storage Tank (FISST) at Chalk River Nuclear laboratories (NRU) to the Savannah River Facility in South Carolina .
On February 21st however, CNSC released information outlining the newly legislated Environmental Assessment rules, whereby CNSC , rather than yourself or Cabinet, now has complete control of the EA process and makes final decisions on nuclear projects under review.
Given CNSC’s recent nuclear “advocacy role” regarding several projects, such as the proposed shipment of radioactive steam generators through the Great Lakes, this change in CNSC’s role is most unfortunate .
Additionally, NCWC feels that the newness of the EA rules and the precedent -setting nature of multiple transfers of such extremely dangerous liquid nuclear waste that could put public health and safety at risk and threaten the environment should an accident happen along this extraordinarily lengthy route, makes it absolutely essential that your Government act in a most precautionary manner in this instance .
Therefore , NCWC respectfully requests that you as Minister of Environment recommend to Cabinet that the government proactively intervene to protect the public interest, by calling a halt to these nuclear waste shipments until the public can be assured of their safety, or, that there is not a safer way to move them, such as the recommendation of nuclear expert Dr. Gordon Edwards that they be solidified on-site at Chalk river, and only then shipped to South Carolina.
Should this not be your choice, we request that strong due diligence be used in your, or any other Ministry’s, observation and involvement in a CNSC review and assessment of this project.