Nuclear governance problems in Canada

Petition: 427

Issue(s): Compliance and enforcement, Governance, Human/environmental health, Natural resources, Waste management

Petitioner(s): Canadian organizations

Petitioner Location(s): Ottawa, Ontario, Gatineau, Quebec and Winnipeg, Manitoba

Date Received: 14 June 2019

Status: Completed—Response(s) to petition received

Summary: The petition alleges there are serious weaknesses in Canada’s system of nuclear governance, which create risks for Canadians and the environment. The petition lays out a series of recommendations. It calls on the federal government to formally and publicly review its nuclear governance framework against the standards and guidelines of the International Atomic Energy Agency and to focus on decommissioning and nuclear waste management. The petition also recommends that the government restructure and reform the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission to ensure that the commission fulfills its mandate to protect health and the environment and that it eliminates what the petition refers to as a problem of “regulatory capture.”

The petition also asks the government to establish a high-level, interdisciplinary, multi-stakeholder task force on post-fission, non-fuel nuclear waste and that the task force include representation from civil society groups, First Nations, and industry. The petition urges the government to strengthen existing legislation—the Nuclear Safety and Control Act and the Nuclear Fuel Waste Act—to reflect international standards and better balance human and environmental health with economic interests.

The petition specifically asks the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, the Minister of Justice, and the Minister of Natural Resources if they will commit to addressing issues with nuclear governance identified in the petition and to strengthening the existing legislation. The petition seeks information on immediate steps the federal government will take to ensure that any licensed nuclear waste disposal project meets or exceeds international safety standards and protects drinking water. The petition also urges the Canadian government to request that the Office of the Auditor General of Canada and the International Atomic Energy Agency formally review Canada’s nuclear governance, particularly the issues the petition has highlighted. Finally, the petition asks whether the government will establish a high-level, interdisciplinary, multi-stakeholder task force to advise on policies and strategies for managing post-fission, non-fuel radioactive waste, so that these policies and strategies meet or exceed international safety requirements.

Federal Departments Responsible for Reply: Environment and Climate Change Canada, Justice Canada, Natural Resources Canada