CELA represented the Citizens Against Radioactive Neighbourhoods (CARN) in a legal challenge of a licensing decision by Canada’s nuclear safety regulator, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC).
CARN is a Peterborough-based organization that advocates for the protection of human and environmental health from the threats of nuclear facilities. They asked the Federal Court to strike the regulator’s issuance of a 10-year licence which permits nuclear fuel manufacturer, BWXT Nuclear Energy Canada Inc., to produce uranium fuel pellets at its facility located in downtown Peterborough, just metres from an elementary school and playground.
In March 2020, public hearings before the regulator were held, with detailed submissions from CELA on behalf of CARN as well as expert reports, and hundreds of written and oral interventions from CARN members.
Represented by Theresa McClenaghan, Jacqueline Wilson and Kerrie Blaise, CARN sought an order from the Federal Court declaring that the CNSC’s issuance of a licence permitting pelleting in Peterborough was unlawful and the licence conditions allowing for this change, to be deemed invalid and of no effect.
In June, the Federal Court dismissed CARN’s request for a judicial review. CELA is disappointed by the decision, however, our encouragement of local community groups to continue to participate in environmental decision-making that affects their communities, especially in areas of previous environmental contamination and as it affects children, remains unwavering.
It’s worth noting that the CNSC’s licensing decision (which CELA challenged) stated that “no later than 2026, BWXT shall present to the Commission comprehensive mid-term updates on its licensed activities”. While no details have yet been released on whether the mid-term update would include a public meeting or hearing, there remains an opportunity for local citizens and concerned groups to advocate for a full, public hearing in 2026.