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[cdn-nucl-l] Re: " Government poised to fire nuclear watchdog "
Crawling back onto my soapbox, ...
Jaro is flirting with a favourite topic of mine: The technical competence
of our regulators in general.
I've heard a lot of complaints about the US-NRC lately but, from what little
I know about them, I've only ever seen one commissioner who didn't have
credible technical credentials and extensive experience of direct relevance
to the industry they were regulating (a Ph.D. in particle physics does not,
alone, make a technically competent regulator). But even an anti-Yucca
campaigner can be head-and-shoulders above any commissioner the Canadian
industry has ever had.
The Canadian system of making unilateral appointments to high-profile,
high-paying regulatory decision-making positions seems to guarantee that the
appointments are used to pay off political debts. And this is not unique to
the nuclear industry. Take a look at our other quasi-judicial boards, like
parole boards, immigration boards, .. Given sufficient political capital,
the most tenuous of connections to a relevant area suddenly become
justification for a position of responsibility and authority. "This one
knows a lot about plants, so they can regulate the nuclear plants!" How is
it that the person at the top of an important organization is the least
qualified person in the organization. But I digress.
The transcripts of CNSC hearings all say the same thing. They say, "These
people don't understand the industry they are charged with regulating. They
don't understand the technology. They don't understand the issues. They're
just there to make decisions and to keep the public safe." Well, okay, they
did seem to think they knew something about sewage sludge.
I consider the nuclear industry relatively safe. What really scares me is
that I don't have a clue about how things like public health, safety, food,
drugs, etc. are regulated. It's terrifying to think that the government
appointees at the regulatory decision-making level may have the same sort of
technical competence we see in the CNSC.
Maybe it is time we had a government with the guts to look at all of our
regulatory decision-makers and demand that they be more than somebody's
friend. That they be more, even, than bright, hard working people (there
really are a lot of bright, hardworking people out there). Maybe we should
insist that before a person is appointed to a top regulatory position of
great responsibility and authority, that they actually have real expertise
relevant to their area of responsibility and authority.