Media Release: Legal Action Launched Against Nuclear Regulator’s Decision

Media Release

 Local citizens group seeks to defend health of children, community from nuclear fuel plant

Peterborough ​– Citizens Against Radioactive Neighbourhoods (CARN) has launched a legal challenge against a recent decision of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission. CARN is represented by the Canadian Environmental Law Association (“CELA”).

CARN, a Peterborough-based organization that advocates for the protection of human and environmental health from the threats of nuclear facilities. CARN has filed an application for judicial review asking the Federal Court to strike the regulator’s issuance of a 10-year licence permitting nuclear fuel manufacturer BWXT to commence the commercial production of uranium fuel pellets at its facility located in downtown Peterborough.

“​This is an unreasonable risk​,” states Tim Wilson, a member of CARN. “​Canada’s nuclear safety regulator has approved a licence without explaining why this plant’s activities will be permitted just 25 metres from the junior playground of an elementary school. Special attention must be paid to vulnerable populations.​ ​As one CNSC member noted in their dissent on this point, ‘adding radiation doses and UO​2​ air and effluent emissions in a site which has an adjacent vulnerable population, is not acting in an abundance of precaution.’”

The application alleges that in authorizing a change to BWXT’s licence that allows it to start producing uranium fuel pellets, the regulator failed to fulfill licence preconditions, including the need to detail the site’s proposed environmental monitoring program. CARN also alleges that the environmental and human health protections set out in the ​Nuclear Safety Control Act ​were not met because BWXT had not provided sufficient information relating to operating performance, quality assurance, safety analysis, physical design and environmental monitoring. In support of its case, CARN also cites international nuclear law which posits that any decision that alters radiation exposure must be justified and do more good than harm.

“​It is a fundamental safety principle that impacts to health and life from any nuclear operation be minimized,” ​states CELA Executive Director Theresa McClenaghan. ​“​The international standard is clear – for nuclear activities to be considered justified, the benefits that they yield must outweigh the radiation risks to which they give rise. There is a particularly strong need for justification in cases where vulnerable populations such as children will be exposed to increased levels of toxic substances and radiation. In this case, this standard has not been met.​ ”

Represented by Theresa McClenaghan, Jacqueline Wilson and Kerrie Blaise, the applicant is seeking an order 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.

For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:

Bill Templeman
CARN Media Representative

Kerrie Blaise
CELA, Legal Counsel
416-960-2284 ext. 7224

The Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA) is a non-profit, public interest organization and legal aid clinic established in 1970 to use existing laws to protect the environment and to advocate environmental law reforms. CELA works toward protecting public health and the environment by seeking justice for those harmed by pollution or poor decision- making and by changing policies to prevent problems in the first place. As a specialty clinic funded by Legal Aid Ontario, our primary focus is on assisting low-income people and disadvantaged communities.

Citizens Against R​ adioactive Neighbourhoods (CARN)​ ​is a local organization concerned about impacts related to the emission of radionuclides and the health of communities and the environment
adjacent to nuclear facilities. CARN works to raise awareness about nuclear facilities and advocates for stringent human health and environmental safeguards. To learn more about CARN and ways to support, please visit: