Media Release

CELA Calls for Postponement of Darlington New Build Hearings

Mar 16 2011

TORONTO – The Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA) today announced that it has called on the Joint Panel holding hearings into the potential new build of up to four nuclear reactors at Darlington to be postponed. The Joint Panel was established under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act by an Agreement between the federal Minister of the Environment and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission. In a tragic coincidence, given the events unfolding in Japan, the Joint Panel is set to start its public hearings this coming Monday, March 21st.

CELA sent a letter to the Joint Panel on Monday, March 14th, 2011, dealing with a number of procedural issues, but first and foremost called on the Joint Panel to postpone holding its public hearings into the new Darlington reactors.

CELA is of the view that it is entirely inappropriate to proceed with those hearings at this time. “In the first place, it would be incredibly insensitive to the tragedy unfolding in Japan,” stated Theresa McClenaghan, Executive Director, and Counsel at the Canadian Environmental Law Association. “Secondly, as CELA stated to the panel three days ago, it is essential to understand the events at the nuclear plants in Japan, and to assess the implications for nuclear power elsewhere.”

The events in Japan were stated this week to be “beyond design basis” events by nuclear experts in the media. This means that the events as they unfolded exceeded the failures that nuclear engineers had anticipated and provided for in the plant designs. This is fundamental to the way safety analysis, accident prevention, and emergency preparation is done in the nuclear industry and these are critical issues for the Darlington Joint Panel.

In particular, since no design has been selected for Darlington, several designs are theoretically before the Joint Panel. There are many unanswered questions concerning the unfolding events in Japan and it would be unseemly for the Darlington Joint Panel to commence its hearings and receive evidence on the various technologies, environmental and social risks, and related matters, at this time.

CELA will also be calling on the Federal Minister of the Environment to direct the Joint Panel to suspend its hearings and postpone them to a future date; and for the provincial Ontario government to direct Ontario Power Generation to withdraw its Environmental Assessment and reconsider the role of new nuclear power in Ontario’s energy future.

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Other resources regarding CELA’s work on nuclear power can be accessed on CELA’s website. The letter to the Joint Panel can be accessed here: http://www.cela.ca/sites/cela.ca/files/783.Darlington%20project%20review.pdf

To arrange for media interviews with CELA, please contact:

• Theresa McClenaghan, CELA, 416-960-2284, ext. 219 or ext 210.