The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) just released its decision to give the ageing Pickering B nuclear station a five-year operational licence despite the significant safety concerns raised by Greenpeace at public hearings in May.
This is a bad decision. The four reactors at the Pickering nuclear station are ageing and approaching the end of their operational lives. As reactors age, the risk of accidents goes up. Worse still, Greenpeace acquired documents in April showing that CNSC staff were concerned by the declining safety margins at the station.
Added to these concerns, is the fact that Pickering is only 30km from downtown Toronto - closer than any nuclear station in the world to a major population centre. Regulators would not permit a nuclear station to be built at Pickering today. Of all the nuclear stations in Canada, Pickering requires special attention.
Last month, Greenpeace made a substantive submission to the CNSC on the relicensing Pickering B, asking it to deny OPG a 5-year licence and increase the oversight of Pickering B because of its age and declining safety margins.
Greenpeace made 8 specific recommendations in its submission. The CNSC responded to one – requiring an end-of-life plan be developed for the station - dismissed the recommendation to deny the 5-year licence, but failed to even acknowledge the other six recommendations.
The CNSC should, at a minimum, provide a rationale for not responding to recommendations by the public. Simply ignoring public input undermines the credibility of its public consultation and decision-making process.
The CNSC’s decision to give Canada’s oldest and most dangerous nuclear station a five-year licence is a bad decision.
Failing to even acknowledge Greenpeace’s concerns on the relicensing shows that the CNSC lacks the courage to even explain its decision to Canadians. This is not the behaviour of an accountable and credible nuclear regulator.