Canada’s Disregard for Nuclear Power Regulation

by rrazak on October 7, 2016 - 9:58pm

As a country which was once a leader on global environmental issues, it is upsetting to see the disregard that the Canadian government has for environmental implications of its power generation today. A CBC article, titled Nuclear Power Plant Safety Inspections Hit and Miss, Watchdog Says, aims to raise major issues in reporting and inspection of Canada’s nuclear power plants.

The two main parties identified by the article are the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development, Julie Gelfand, and the Canadian Safety Nuclear Commission (CNSC). The article brings to light Julie Gelfand’s identification of major discrepancies in the CNSC’s inspection of power plants. The CNSC is responsible for monitoring 4 nuclear power plants in Ontario and New Brunswick (Parry & Harris, 2016).

Gelfand’s report findings, as identified by the article, are that the CNSC is neither systematic nor rigorous in its planning and documentation of nuclear power plants. The CNSC could not demonstrate that their inspection plans included the appropriate number and types of inspections, or that there was an adequate number of staff to carry out inspections (Parry & Harris, 2016). The article also identifies inadequate performance from other environmental departments in the Canadian Government.

The reasoning for the neglect in CNSC inspections mentioned in the article may be a result of just two possible cases.

First, that our environmental regulators are lazy and unconcerned with ensuring environmental conservation principles are followed. In this case, it is the higher up’s responsibility to see that problems in these organizations are addressed.

Second, and much more likely, is that this is an example of value conflict between the government and general advocates for environment. The government values the power generated from these reactors over the safety of the environment. 

The author of the CBC article does not discuss what politics may be behind the neglect in these environmental regulations. However, CNSC’s poor performance seems to be a valid example of how the previous Canadian government has pushed Canada towards a resource based economy with disregard for any environmental impacts.

We need a government that has transparency, and recognizes the fact that environmental conservation is crucial to future generations.

The effects of a nuclear plant meltdown can be catastrophic, as seen in the 2011 Fukushima disaster in Japan, which could have been prevented had necessary inspections and safety precautions been taken prior (World Nuclear Association, July 2016). For this reason, it is essential that nuclear power plants are properly regulated.

This being said, the article seems to only represent nuclear power as a high risk energy source which must be taken care of. People tend to want to avoid any risks when it comes to natural resource management. While the risks of nuclear power can be catastrophic, the chance of these events occurring can be minimized by proper regulation. We mustn’t forget that the long-term benefits of nuclear power may outweigh the risks.

It is time for Canada to return to the global leader that it once was in environmental issues. Canada needs a government that will take nuclear power plant inspections seriously, and it needs a government that will realize how important clean energy and environmental conservation is for the future.

 

 

Fukushima Accident. (2016, July). Retrieved October 06, 2016, from http://www.world-nuclear.org/information-library/safety-and-security/saf...

Parry, T., & Harris, K. (2016, October 04). Nuclear power plant safety inspections hit and miss, watchdog says. Retrieved October 06, 2016, from http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/environment-commissioner-report-fall-2016-1.3790293

Photorush. (n.d.). Sequoyah Nuclear Power Plant.JPG. Retrieved October 6, 2016, from https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Sequoyah_Nuclear_Power_Plant.JPG (Originally photographed 2008, October 25)

Comments

Interesting story. It seems you are suggesting that we continue with the use of Nuclear Power, but that the federal government oversee safety provisions, and make sure that they are followed. Safety is certainly a number one issue when it comes to nuclear power, as the potential risks are larger than any other energy sector by far, as you compared to the 2011 Japan disaster.
But I think a greater issue about nuclear power is the handling of the nuclear waste. From what I know, its very toxic and doesn't decay quickly, and effects the natural environment is it disposed into negative. If we continue to use nuclear power, the waste disposal will be an serious issue that should be considered, along with the safety concerns.