Want to ensure the public doesn’t interfere with your efforts to rubber stamp a new license for a nearly 50-year-old nuclear station? Then hold your hearing in an out-of-the-way location, far from the people who will actually be affected by your decision.

That seems to be the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission’s (CNSC’s) strategy in deciding to hold hearings this June on the license renewal for the Pickering Nuclear Station in far-off Courtice, on the furthest eastern edge of the GTA. Courtice is close to 30 kms from the Pickering Nuclear Station, roughly the same distance from the plant to downtown Toronto.

Good luck taking transit to Courtice. You’ll need at least a couple of GO buses, a few hours to spare and some good walking shoes to trek the 1.3 kms from the closest bus stop to the hearing location. But, hey, the CNSC reports that the Hope Fellowship Church where the hearings will be held offers free parking!

The CNSC claims that it searched high and low for a venue in and around Pickering and even in Toronto, but simply could not come up with anywhere else that met its needs. Which is interesting because there are 183 hotels in the GTA as well as pages and pages of banquet halls, conference centres, and churches between Pickering and downtown Toronto. Many of these are accessible by public transit with frequent service.

How confident should we feel about a nuclear regulator that could not book an appropriate facility for hearings that have been scheduled for over a year? Oh, but the CNSC says you are free to watch the hearings online, which given their fear of elephants in the room makes some sense.

As our study of what a Fukushima-scale accident at Pickering shows, hundreds of thousands of people in and around Toronto have a huge stake in any decision to continue operating one of the world’s oldest and largest (6 reactors!) nuclear stations well past its prime. Holding hearings in a remote corner of Canada’s largest urban area will directly undercut the credibility of any decision that comes out of these hearings.

Our federal government has talked a lot about “restoring public trust” in exactly this kind of decision making process. It is therefore time for Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr (Jim.Carr@parl.gc.ca) to tell the CNSC to find a more appropriate location for this hearing. Please drop him a line here.

And if you want to participate in the hearing this June, either in person or remotely, get more direction on how to do so here. And here you can find more details on why we should close Pickering in August when its license expires.

You can't go home again

Thanks for your help closing this Pickering nuclear dinosaur in August, 2018!

Angela Bischoff, Director