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[cdn-nucl-l] " I won't go quietly, nuclear watchdog says "
I won't go quietly, nuclear watchdog says
Minister angry over isotope reactor shutdown
CanWest News Service, January 9, 2008
The president of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission vowed yesterday to
serve out her term as Canada's top nuclear watchdog as speculation swirled
she was about to be fired by the Tory government.
In a letter obtained by the Ottawa Citizen, Natural Resources Minister Gary
Lunn accused Linda Keen of refusing to heed a Dec. 10 ministerial
"directive" from him and Health Minister Tony Clement to allow the restart
of the isotope-producing nuclear reactor at Chalk River.
The end-of-year shutdown at the Ontario facility caused a worldwide shortage
in medical isotopes for cancer and other treatments.
Lunn's letter also threatened her "commission be terminated."
But in a missive released yesterday, responding to Lunn's initial
correspondence, Keen said: "Your threat to have me removed as president
seriously undermines the independent of the CNSC."
She also promised to continue to serve as president until her term expires
on November 2010, and asked that her tenure be reviewed.
"I would strongly recommend that the issue of my performance as the
president of the CNSC be referred to some form of public inquiry,
parliamentary committee or independent international review," Keen wrote.
"I would welcome public scrutiny of my performance over the last seven years
and, in particular, the events leading up to the shutdown of the ...
Despite intense political pressure at the time, including a personal attack
by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Keen insisted the 50-year-old reactor,
Canada's oldest, remain shut until work was completed on a backup safety
system to prevent the remote risk of a core meltdown during an earthquake or
That put the government in the embarrassing position of having to enact
emergency legislation overruling the country's nuclear regulator in the name
of nuclear medicine, embodied by Canada's world-leading $3.7-billion global
molecular imaging and radiotherapeutics market, led by Ottawa's MDS Nordion.
Meanwhile, the commission on Monday alerted the Office of the Privacy
Commissioner and asked the RCMP to probe the source of the leaked letter to
"The fact that the letter has been leaked is a privacy breach," said
spokesperson Aurčle Gervais, who refused further comment.
Don't ignore nuclear watchdog
January 9, 2008
Re: "Government poised to fire nuclear watchdog" (Gazette, Jan. 8).
While a government can legislate whatever it wishes within the law, it is
expected to respect the rules it has established. Example: the mandate and
responsibility of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission to oversee and
approve the licensing and operation of nuclear reactors at Chalk River.
That commission has deemed the Chalk River facilities to be dangerous and
the last thing the nuclear industry needs is a nuclear accident. For
political leaders to overrule their own safety commission and behave like
the mayor of a city overruling a traffic ticket properly issued by its
police department (a trivial analogy by comparison) is so wrong.
And then to ask the president of that commission to explain her and her
commission's actions (under the veiled threat of dismissal), while ignoring
the fact unqualified politicians have placed expediency above safety, is so
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