Former Head of Nuclear Safety endorses Elizabeth May
Ottawa / Victoria - At a press conference linking an Ottawa and Saanich Peninsula location, Green Party Leader Elizabeth May welcomed the endorsement of former President of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC), Linda Keen.
“I came to
know both Gary Lunn and Elizabeth May through the difficult episodes surrounding
being fired as President of the CNSC. Even though Elizabeth and I do not
agree about the overall benefits of nuclear energy, I saw in her a fair-minded
approach and a clear understanding of the public policy process,” said Ms. Keen. “In contrast, I found Mr. Lunn to be far out of his
depth. His capacity to absorb what was at stake was quite limited.
Ironically, I now find both to be candidates in this federal election
campaign. Given what I know, I feel obliged to share with voters that,
without doubt, Elizabeth May is far better equipped to serve the public
interest in the House of Commons.”
Linda Keen, internationally respected expert in nuclear safety was fired from her role as Canada’s top regulator for nuclear safety when the CNSC insisted that Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd (AECL) live up to its license requirements under federal law at the NRU reactor in Chalk River, Ontario. The violation was discovered in an inspection when the NRU reactor, dedicated to production of medical radio-isotopes, was closed for other repairs. The violation was due to AECL’s failure to install required back-up energy systems to ensure that if the Chalk River reactor lost power in an earthquake, power to maintain coolant would be available. Chalk River is in an earthquake prone region.
Rather than obey the law, AECL chose to go to the Minister of Natural Resources and plead that the safety requirements were unnecessary and that the regulator should be ignored. In a shocking decision, the Minister fired the regulator. Auditor General Sheila Fraser decried the decision, noting it would have a “chilling effect” throughout the regulatory system, compromising nuclear safety, food safety, and the importance of an arm’s length relationship between political masters and independent regulators.
That regulator was Linda Keen, and the Minister who fired her was former Minister of Natural Resources Canada, Gary Lunn.
“I am deeply grateful to Linda Keen
for her decades of public service. She was treated shabbily and made an
object of derision in the House, by both the Prime Minister and by Mr.
Lunn. In light of the Fukushima disaster, I think all Canadians can agree
that there can be no short-cuts or compromises on nuclear safety. We all
owe Linda Keen a debt of
gratitude,” said Ms. May. “Nuclear safety and indeed the whole regulatory
process in Canada was weakened by Gary Lunn. That will be his
legacy. There is still time to reverse dangerous trends toward lax
regulation in many areas of public safety. I am committed to fixing what
has been broken.”
Director of Communications
Green Party of Canada
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