McNAMARA: The CNSC - A Regulatory Farce

McNAMARA: The CNSC - A Regulatory Farce

Postby Oscar » Thu Nov 01, 2012 6:01 pm

McNAMARA: The CNSC - A Regulatory Farce



Subject: The CNSC - A Regulatory Farce
Date: Tue, 16 Oct 2012 13:31:59 -0400

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission – A Regulatory Farce

Premier Wall, NWMO and the CNSC,

I spent three hours yesterday (Oct. 15) at the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) meeting in Patuanak. I’ll report on the meeting later this week, but I will speak to one bone of contention that came up; the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission’s integrity and its power to regulate or lack thereof. The following examples will shed some light on this matter.


Bruce Power (one third owned by Cameco) informed the CNSC on January 7, 2010 that some of their employees and contractors were exposed to alpha radiation during the refurbishment of their reactors. This in itself was bad enough, but the exposures actually occurred 44 days before Bruce Power reported it to the CNSC.

In mid-January 2010, Bruce Power reported 19 workers were exposed to alpha radiation in November and were awaiting test results. (1) The number of exposed workers jumped to 190 by February 11, 2010. Many of the workers and contractors were refusing to go into the affected areas by this time. (2) On February 15, 2010, the CNSC said as many as 217 workers had been exposed to alpha radiation at Bruce Power’s facility. (3)

The CNSC held a Hearing into this matter on February 23, 2010 at which it was revealed 583 people may have had contact with alpha radiation during the refurbishment of Bruce Power’s reactors. CNSC President Michael Binder pointed out that he was confident no workers were harmed by their exposure, but that they had suffered because of “perceived radiation”. (4)

The CNSC Hearings finally exposed the fact we’re not capable of dealing with a nuclear emergency in Canada if one occurred. Atomic Energy of Canada Limited is the only facility in the country accredited to test these workers and they could only process 10 of them per week. It would take them over a year to test all 583 workers. (5)

There had been no monitoring for: “internal emitters which may have been breathed or swallowed or made their way into the body through any opening in the skin. These internal emitters of radiation, even at the single particle level, can and do cause the onset of disease." (6)

In June 2010, the CNSC requested that Bruce Power test hundred of their employees for the presence of alpha radiation in their bodies. Bruce power refused to do so saying it was too difficult and time consuming. They offered to test 38 individuals to see if further testing was worthwhile. Bruce Power’s spokesman John Peevers stated: “the company’s response to the CNSC is open to negotiation. Under the applicable sections of the government’s General Nuclear Safety and Control Regulations, federal inspectors issue requests to nuclear companies, and not binding orders.” (7)


From a report commissioned by the CNSC: "The Cameco, Port Hope site includes approximately 44 structures or activity areas. The structures which have been constructed since the 1960's should have been designed and constructed in compliance with one of the editions of the National Building Code. None of the structures were constructed in compliance with the edition of the National Building Code that was in effect at the time of the design and construction of the buildings." (Cyril Hare Report, Dec. 20, 2005, pg 2)


At the 2005 Mid-Term License Review Hearings for Cameco and Zircatec, Port Hope Councillor John Morand told the CNSC Commissioners that the Port Hope Fire Department could not fight radiological fires at Cameco and Zircatec. When Mr. Morand finished, a Commissioner asked Zircatec President Lloyd Jones if he knew about fire fighting limitations. Mr. Jones said he didn’t know about it.

Mr. Morand immediately produced a letter from Port Hope Fire Chief Frank Haylow which stated: "Based on the significant risk this licensed industry poses if a fire or other emergency were to occur, it is my professional opinion that our current volunteer staffing model would not be sufficient to deal with a large fire or hazardous materials emergency at this location".

The letter had been sent to Zircatec, Cameco and the CNSC 3 months before the Hearings. Mr. Morand produced another letter from the CNSC to Zircatec and Cameco informing them of the fire fighting limitations.

The CNSC failed to ensure that Port Hope residents were protected from accidents and fires at Cameco and Zircatec. The CNSC was always aware of the problem but did nothing about it. It was community groups, not the nuclear regulator who exposed the shortcomings and forced the required changes.


Jacques Whitford Consultants were hired as peer review on Cameco’s proposal to downblend enriched uranium in Port Hope. Cameco refused to answer the 65 most important questions which triggered a scathing report by Jacques Whitford. The report criticized the actions and inactions of the CNSC as much as those of Cameco. The following are some of their findings:

"CNSC staff has not followed the directives of the CNSC Commission with regard to health issues, have not followed the CNSC’s Guidelines or the requirements of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act".

"Cameco states, and the CNSC appears to accept, that it was not necessary to determine the significance of environmental effects, when clearly the Act requires a determination of significance for all adverse environmental effects of the project".

"Cameco and the CNSC are not preparing or providing information that the (CNSC) Guidelines require. The Municipality of Port Hope needs more information with respect to potential threats, response capabilities and security requirements".

"The Environmental Assessment does not contain required information with respect to the potential health effects or cumulative health effects of uranium as a chemically toxic substance".

The Jacques Whitford Report was released to the public on the morning of September 22, 2005, the deadline for submissions. Cameco withdrew their application that afternoon. By that time, the CNSC was under attack as much as Cameco. It was better for Cameco and the CNSC to terminate all discussions than it was to have their conduct scrutinized any further during the scheduled hearings.


Cameco and the CNSC have an incestuous and co-dependant relationship. The aforementioned abuses took place in populated areas that are easily accessible to media and community oversight. We’re currently reviewing Saskatchewan mining documents as the CNSC cannot be trusted to look after the health and well-being of people exposed to any component of the nuclear fuel cycle, especially in remote areas where the mines and toxic tailings piles are located.

I submitted questions to the CNSC about internal emitters in miners and about the caribou that was stuck in Cameco’s tailings pond over two weeks ago. I received some of the answers about the caribou but not a thing about the dangers to the miners. More on this in the coming days.

To NWMO’s Mike Krizanc: I did not appreciate your intimation that I was lying and that I didn’t know what I was talking about. The above examples are all part of the public record and represent only a fraction of the CNSC’s misbehaviours. Considering your comments yesterday, you’re either unaware of the true workings of the CNSC or you were knowingly lying to me. In either case, we will be present at every meeting NWMO holds in Northern Saskatchewan to ensure you and your staff are telling the truth.

By copy of this e-mail, the Committee for Future Generations requests that NWMO notifies the group of any and all meetings you will be holding in northern Saskatchewan , well in advance of their occurrence.

Pat McNamara

(1) The Toronto Sun, Jonathan Jenkins, January 23, 2010

(2) The Toronto Sun, Jonathan Jenkins, February 11, 2010

(3) Globe and Mail, Martin Mittlestaedt, February 16, 2010

(4) Kinkardine Independent, Josh Howald, February 24, 2010

(5) Sun Times Staff, Paul Jankowski,

(6) 2007 Report on Veterans Exposed to Atomic Testing in Canada, John Clearwater

(7) Globe and Mail, CNSC requests to have employees tested for radiation, June 23, 2010
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