Ottawa – Citizens groups say that Ontario Power Generation has failed again to make a convincing case in support of their scheme to burial radioactive waste on the shore of Lake Huron, but they say that the federal review agency is also failing in its job, given their decision to omit public participation from the review of OPG’s newest report, released today.
“We’ve been there every step of the way, and now the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency is saying a public comment period on the OPG’s response to the most recent information request will not be held,” said Marti McFadzean, who represents a group of residents who live closest to the proposed burial site in the Kincardine area on the eastern shore of Lake Huron.
The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency posted OPG’s most recent response to information requests about their burial project Monday evening, but has told public interest groups who have participated in last six stages of the project review that there will be no opportunity for them to have input into whether OPG had satisfied the Agency’s April 5th request for additional information.
“We had every expectation that there would be an opportunity for meaningful public engagement in the review of this most recent response by Ontario Power Generation. When we asked the Agency (CEAA) to make the details and timeline for the public engagement process available so that the public could plan for its involvement in the process, we were told there would be no public input,” explained Jill Taylor, President of SOS Great Lakes.
“After the incredible investment of time and effort that the public intervenors have made throughout this review, we find it completely unacceptable that we would be shut out at this stage.”
Ontario Power Generation was directed in early April to provide additional information about their plan to bury radioactive wastes in a series of underground chambers less than a kilometre from Lake Huron, beneath the Bruce Nuclear Generating Station. In each of the previous stages of the review the manner in which the public would be involved in assessing the information OPG provided was set out in advance.
“Through the three rounds of public hearings and then the review of OPG’s response to the request from the Minister of the Environment for additional information, the public participants have played a vital role, bringing independent technical expertise and community knowledge. We are now at a crucial and presumably final stage of the review; this is not the time to shut the public out”, commented Brennain Lloyd, of the northern Ontario coalition Northwatch.
“Public participation is a fundamental in environmental assessment in Canada”, explained Theresa McClenaghan, executive director and senior counsel at the Canadian Environmental Law Association.
“The Agency is in somewhat uncharted waters at this point, going back to OPG with a second request for additional information after they failed to respond adequately in December to the request from the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change. But the unique course that this review has taken is all the more cause to keep environmental assessment principles – such as public participation – front and centre in their approach.”
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Marti McFadzean, The Inverhuron Committee, tel 5193683770
Jill Taylor, SOS Great Lakes, cell 416 930 8725
Brennain Lloyd, Northwatch, tel 705 497 0373 cell 705 493 9650
Theresa McClenaghan, Canadian Environmental Law Association, tel 416 960 2284
Eugene Bourgeois, Friends of Bruce, tel 519-368-5354
John Jackson, Citizens Network on Waste Management, tel 519 744 7503