The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) announced this week that it would delay hearings until December on the future of the Darlington nuclear station because of the "high number of interventions."
There's good reason for public concern. Ontario Power Generation (OPG) is seeking approval from the CNSC to spend $8 to $14 billion to rebuild and continue operating the four Darlington reactors until 2055.
In what I believe to be an unprecedented move, the regulator has bundled three issues into one set of hearings: re-licensing the Darlington station, re-licensing its radioactive waste site and the environmental assessment.
That means deputants have only 10 minutes each to voice concerns regarding a multi-billion-dollar project that comes with the risk of a Fukushima-scale accident as well as other environmental impacts.
But it's not just the time limitation that is troubling; the CNSC has repeatedly refused to consider the possibility of a large accidental radiation release, or whether current nuclear emergency plans could cope with it.
But this is a fair and reasonable request. The Joint Review Panel on building new reactors at Darlington last year even recommended that these questions be addressed.
Government authorities have a responsibility to ensure emergency plans can adequately protect the citizens of the GTA and beyond. This doesn't seem to matter to the CNSC, but it should matter to us. It's time we all start telling the federal and Ontario governments that the CNSC isn't doing its job to protect Canadians and the environment.
In 2006 the McGuinty government exempted all nuclear projects from provincial environmental assessments and handed the responsibility to CNSC, the industry-friendly federal nuclear safety regulator.
We don't need just a new hearing. We need a new environmental review.
Shawn-Patrick Stensil is an energy and climate change campaigner for Greenpeace Canada.