Canadian regulator claims federal judge erred in Ontario ruling

25 June 2014

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) says the judge who cancelled the site-preparation licence it issued for new reactors at Darlington "made errors that need to be clarified" in the federal court of appeal.

Darlington (OPG)
Darlington (Image: OPG)

Ontario Power Generation (OPG) began the federal approvals process to build up to four new units at the site of its 3500 MWe Darlington nuclear power plant in 2006. A CNSC joint review panel specially convened in 2009 issued a site preparation licence three years later.

But Greenpeace Canada, the Canadian Environmental Law Association, Lake Ontario Waterkeeper and Northwatch pursued a federal court judicial review of that joint panel decision. They argued the Darlington project raised concerns about nuclear waste, hazardous emissions and accidents. In May, Federal Court Justice James Russell revoked the site preparation licence.

In its notice of appeal against Justice Russell's decision dated 13 June CNSC listed seven grounds for appeal.

"The court decision didn't say a new plant would be unsafe, nor did it say the environmental assessment process should be overturned," Neal Kelly, CNSC spokesman, told World Nuclear News on 24 June. "It simply said there were three additional areas that should have been examined," he said.

"OPG's view is that the federal court misapplied the standard review by failing to show the appropriate deference to the expertise and judgement of the review panel," Kelly said.

Each of the issues identified by the court "would be appropriately dealt with" in future licensing or approvals processes, such as construction and operating licences, or in future environmental assessments, Kelly said.

OPG's new build program has in any case been on hold since last October, when the Ontario government announced it was no longer part of the province's long-term energy plan.

Nuclear power meets more than 50% of Ontario's electricity needs.

Written and researched
by World Nuclear News