April 2016 Bulletin

Improving Toronto's approach to potential nuclear emergencies

Earlier this month, CELA provided recommendations to Toronto Mayor John Tory and and Members of City of Toronto Executive Council in response to a report about Nuclear Emergency Planning. CELA has examined emergency planning regulatory requirements and readiness at Ontario's commercial nuclear power plants. We also presented these findings to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC).

We had several concerns about Ontario’s nuclear plants such as the fact that the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station is 5km from the City of Toronto’s boundaries, and all of the City of Toronto falls with 50km of the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station (the current secondary zone). In addition, a portion of the City falls within 50km of the Darlington Nuclear Generating Stations, and the current provincial nuclear emergency plan does not consider the possibility of “an event on the scale of the nuclear accident at Fukushima.”

To strengthen the emergency planning, we made several recommendations such as requesting that the City seek public input at a public meeting of Toronto’s residents with the Province of Ontario's consultation on the new provincial nuclear emergency plan, and that the Executive Committee request that City staff report back to Executive Committee on the City’s proposed response.

The Toronto Executive Council passed a motion on the topic of nuclear emergency planning that directs the deputy city manager of cluster B to report on the city's draft submission to the provincial government's consultation on its nuclear emergency plans. The motion also directs the deputy city manager of cluster B to report on the financial impacts of the provincial government's proposal to establish a 20km emergency planning zone as well as other measures.

CELA surveys fellow legal clinics for RentSafe

CELA is an active member of RentSafe, a three-year project led by the Canadian Partnership for Children's Health and Environment (CPCHE). RentSafe was created to address indoor environmental health risks affecting low-income tenants in Ontario's urban and rural communities. Research is being assembled in a baseline report for review by stakeholders later this year. RentSafe partner organizations have held tenant focus groups, surveyed public health units and legal clinics across Ontario and a third survey will focus on additional social service organizations (see project update here). The survey of legal clinics is available from the CELA website. RentSafe will build awareness and capacity so that low-income tenants faced with lead, mould, pests, pesticides, and other indoor health threats, are better able to get the support they need.

RentSafe inter-sectoral action on healthy housing

RentSafe partners from CELA, CPCHE, three public health departments and a community health centre made a presentation at the Ontario Public Health Convention about the RentSafe baseline research findings and how different sectors are working towards creating healthy housing for Ontario's low-income tenants. The PowerPoint presentation can be downloaded from the CELA website.

 

Improving CNSC's environmental assessments

CELA responded to draft regulatory document REGDOC 2.9.1, Environmental Protection: Environmental Assessments (EA) which describes the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission’s (CNSC) process for conducting EAs under the Nuclear Safety and Control Act. We provided several recommendations on the proposed regulations, such as allowing public participation throughout the entire EA process and considering renewable resources as part of the process to ensure sustainable development. In addition, we recommended that the CNSC require an “alternatives to” and “need for” analysis as part of the process.

Responding to the ruling in the Darlington refurbishment appeal

CELA and other public interest groups were disappointed in a recent Federal Court of Appeal decision. The court found the lack of public review of severe accidents and long term storage of nuclear waste is lawful if the nuclear regulator says so. The ruling was a 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. Lake Ontario Waterkeeper, Northwatch, CELA and Greenpeace are currently reviewing the decision to determine if further action will be taken.

Responding to proposed cap and trade legislation (Bill 172)

Although CELA supports the Ontario government’s decision to introduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions pricing, the proposed cap and trade program (Bill 172) must be amended to make it fairer. In a letter to the Ontario Premier and Ministers of Environment and Climate Change (MOCC) and Energy (MOE), we strongly recommended an amendment to Bill 172 to set aside at least 25 per cent of Greenhouse Gas Reduction Account (GGRA) funds for low-income and vulnerable communities. Ontario’s decision not to address the concerns of these communities is out of step with other jurisdictions which have introduced carbon pricing regimes. It's also contrary to Ontario’s Poverty Reduction Strategy. CELA counsel Erica Stahl contributed a post to the CELA blog on this important issue.

CELA also made a formal submission on the proposed cap and trade regulation (EBR 012-6837). We recommended that industrial emitters should not be given free allowances, or the Minister should justify any allowances that are allocated for free, and ensure it is only a transitional measure. Additionally, we recommended the 2017 cap should be set below the level of projected growth of GHG emissions in 2017.

Bill 151 Update: CELA Appears before Standing Committee

On April 19, 2016, CELA lawyer Richard Lindgren appeared before Ontario’s Standing Committee on Social Policy to provide recommendations on improving Bill 151 (Waste-Free Ontario Act). The Toronto Environmental Alliance and Recycling Council of Ontario also appeared before the Standing Committee to express similar recommendations. Clause-by-clause review of Bill 151 is scheduled to occur in early May.

We're looking for an articling student for 2017-2018

CELA seeks an articling student for the 2017-2018 year. The student will deal directly with individuals seeking legal information, giving the student valuable practice in dealing with the public and potential clients. The articling student also gains background with respect to the process of developing policy as part of CELA's law reform activities.

CELA has moved!
Our new address is:
Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA)
1500-55 University Avenue, Toronto, ON M5J 2H7
Tel: 416-960-2284, 1-844-755-1420, Fax: 416-960-9392
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