Groups appeal to International – Atomic Energy to nix Canadian appointment

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Three independent civil society organizations – the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment, the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility and the Ottawa River Institute – are asking the Director General of the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to reconsider the recent appointment of a Canadian as chair of its commission on nuclear safety standards

Three independent civil society organizations – the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment, the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility and the Ottawa River Institute – are asking the Director General of the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to reconsider the recent appointment of a Canadian as chair of its commission on nuclear safety standards.
In a recent letter to IAEA Director General Rafael M. Grossi, signed by Dr. Gordon Edwards, Dr. Éric Notebaert, MD, and Dr. Ole Hendrickson, the authors say they are concerned about the appointment of Rumina Velshi, president of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC), because the organization she heads has a documented record of disregarding IAEA safety standards and advocating for exemption of smaller nuclear reactors from environmental assessment in Canada.
“We fear Ms. Velshi’s chairmanship could result in the lowering of international
standards, with an emphasis on benefits to the nuclear industry and support of
‘innovation’ at the expense of public protection,” says the letter.
The letter’s authors cite a recent IAEA review of Canada’s nuclear safety framework as evidence of the CNSC’s failure to meet IAEA safety standards. The review identified numerous deficiencies, found that “CNSC regulations do not comprehensively cover all IAEA Fundamental Safety Requirements”, and found Canada to be out of alignment with IAEA standards for nuclear reactor decommissioning.
“The CNSC is proposing to permit entombment and abandonment of very long-lived radioactive entrails of shutdown ‘legacy’ nuclear reactors as an acceptable strategy for decommissioning in Canada. This approach is expressly rejected by IAEA safety standards,” says Dr. Edwards, President of the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility.  “We don’t want to see this approach exported to the rest of the world.”
The groups call on the IAEA director to maintain the integrity of IAEA safety
standards and continue to emphasize the vital importance of ensuring independence and objectivity, stating: “We value IAEA safety standards; at the moment they are all that is of an official nature standing between Canadians and three nuclear waste disposal projects that would adversely affect the environment and public health in Canada for generations.”

Johanna Echlin
Old Fort William Cottager’s Association
SHEENBORO