Friday, June 8, 2012

'I thought they were shareholders.' My first look at a hearing with the CNSC, our nuclear watchdog |

I spent the early part of this week in Mistissini, the largest Cree community in Eeyou Istchee, the Cree Territory of northern Quebec, particpating in a two-day licencing hearing held by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC). The hearing was part of the CNSC’s decision process for the licencing of the Matoush Project, a proposed advanced uranium exploration project (i.e. test mine) that is being developed by Strateco Resources. Among anti-nuclear folks the CNSC has a pretty poor reputation for bias and coziness with the industry, what I saw and heard during the hearing confirmed this. Rather than appearing as an independent watchdog both staff and commissioners seemed to go out of their way to defend the industry and played down or completely ignored problems and issues at existing and past uranium mines and other parts of the nuclear fuel chain...

Towards the end of the two days several interveners noted that the questioning from the commissioners seemed very unbalanced. Those that supported the project were enthusiastically asked to explain things further while those that expressed opposition were asked if they had enough information, or why they would have concerns about uranium mining and not any other kind of mining. An elder who had been listening to the hearing on the radio told me that from the sound of the Commissioners “I thought they were shareholders of the company,” not our “independent” public watchdog! (He might have been joking but his meaning was clear.)

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