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Government of Canada's Response to Environmental Petition 413: Environmental assessment of nuclear projects, submitted by Concerned Citizens of Renfrew County and Area and Old Fort William Cottagers' Association

On January 29th, 2018, the Concerned Citizens of Renfrew County and Area and Old Fort William Cottagers' Association submitted an Environmental Petition to the Office of the Auditor General of Canada. This petition outlined concerns about the role of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission as the sole responsible authority for the environmental assessment of nuclear projects. The petition suggests that an independent assessment authority for nuclear projects be created instead, asserting that the Commission is a "captured regulator" and is thus not sufficiently impartial.

The petition also declares that the Commission made improper scoping and procedural decisions in several instances, illustrating its concerns by presenting three examples of the Commission's involvement: the Near Surface Disposal Facility Project in Deep River, Ontario; In Situ Decommissioning of the Whiteshell Reactor-1 Project in Pinawa, Manitoba; and the Nuclear Power Demonstration Closure Project in Rolphton, Ontario.

The petition sought responses and explanations on how the Government of Canada will ensure that decisions on the disposal of federally owned radioactive wastes serve the public interest. The petition poses a series of questions to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change on how purported weaknesses in the environmental assessment process for nuclear projects will be rectified. The petition also asks the Minister to respond to the Expert Panel's report, including

  • to the statements on environmental assessment planning and on the socio-economic considerations in nuclear project assessments, and
  • to the recommendation that the Commission be replaced as the responsible authority for the environmental assessment of nuclear projects.

Further, the petition asks the Minister of Natural Resources and the Minister of Crown–Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs to provide information on the actions they have taken to enhance the participation of experts and Indigenous groups in assessing nuclear projects, in accordance with the two ministers' respective mandate letters from the Prime Minister. In addition, the petition asks the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard and the Minister of Science about the actions their departments have taken to ensure that decisions on the environmental assessment process are based on science, facts, and evidence.

For Petition Responses:

Please refer to the Office of the Auditor General of Canada website to obtain more information on this petition, including replies from the Federal Departments (Environment and Climate Change Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada, Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, and Natural Resources Canada).

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