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Letter to CNSC Requesting a Public Hearing on GE-Hitachi in Davenport – August 28, 2013

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Today, your MPP Jonah Schein and I have written a letter to the Commissioners of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) requesting that the CNSC hold a public meeting in our community during their mid-term review of the GE-Hitachi Facility at 1025 Lansdowne Ave. This review is scheduled to take place this November. We want Davenport residents to have the opportunity to raise their concerns surrounding the facility directly with the Commission during the public consultation process. The text of our letter follows below. We will post any response we receive.
_______________________________________________________________________________________
Commission Members
Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission
280 Slater Street
P.O. Box 1046
Station B
Ottawa, ON
K1P 5S9
August 28, 2013

Dear Commission Members,
We are writing on behalf of our constituents to urge you to come to Davenport for your November 13 and 14 mid-term review of the class 1b nuclear fuel production facility operated by GE-Hitachi at 1025 Lansdowne Ave in Toronto. Since a community meeting on 8 December 2012 that was attended by over 200 residents, hundreds more have signed a petition asking the CNSC to hold a local meeting in which area residents and representatives can participate.

We would like you to hold your review of the facility in our riding for a number of reasons:
Most importantly, a local meeting would allow residents to experience firsthand how the CNSC is regulating the facility and ensuring public safety. No doubt CNSC employees Patsy Thompson and Peter Elder have informed you about the community meeting they attended in December, where dozens of angry and worried residents demanded to know whether it was safe for their families to live so close to this facility; some questioned whether its presence was related to their specific health concerns. Virtually everyone wanted to know why they had not been informed that this plant was processing nuclear fuel pellets within blocks of their homes.

Davenport residents need to be reassured that GE-Hitachi is adequately informing both the CNSC and the community about their activities. At our December meeting, local resident Dawn Withers challenged the claims GE-Hitachi made at its 2010 licensing hearing regarding the degree to which they have kept community informed, which is, she pointed out, a condition of their licence. Referring to Commission transcripts, Ms Withers wondered, “If one of [GE-Hitachi’s] terms of commission … was to inform the community and if that could not be verified [by the CNSC]- and that would have been easily verified – then how can we be reassured that the other things that they were supposed to adhere to in terms of danger to the community were adhered to…?” CNSC staff in attendance promised to look into GE-Hitachi’s testimony regarding its public information program at the licensing hearing. We hope the Commission will demonstrate its commitment to transparency by taking up this issue of trust and accountability with GE-Hitachi in an open, locally accessible venue.
Finally, your visit to our community will allow you to view the facility you have licensed and get to know the neighbourhood in which it is embedded. This historically underserved community is quickly being transformed by several new developments including a twin-towered 23 and 27-storey condo currently under construction directly across the street from the facility. We understand that this facility is the only one of its kind in such a densely-populated urban setting and have serious concerns about the proximity of this facility to this rapidly growing residential area. Because GE-Hitachi’s public information program has been so inadequate, thousands of new residents are pouring into this area without knowing that a nuclear fuel production facility is sited across the street. We need the Commission members to understand this community’s concerns in the context of its legacy of industrial pollution and neglect as well as the current development boom, so that when you take decisions that affect our lives, you protect our interests.

We know that the CNSC has a precedent of holding meetings in affected communities and we believe our request for such a meeting is warranted given the intense level of interest in this facility in our community. Additionally we would like to request that the MP for this riding, Andrew Cash be allowed to make a formal presentation to the Commission. We also request that the Commission grant community members the opportunity to make personal submissions.
The people of Davenport need to trust that the public agencies that exist to protect their interests are, in fact, doing so. A meeting in Davenport would be a powerful signal to the community that CNSC acknowledges that this community has been inadequately informed in the past and that it is serious about rectifying this omission.

We hope to see you here in Davenport in the fall.

Sincerely,

Andrew Cash
Member of Parliament
Davenport
Jonah Schein
Member of Provincial Parliament
Davenport
CC: Joe Oliver, MP for Eglinton-Lawrence, Minister of Natural Resources
Peter Julian, MP for Burnaby-New Westminster, NDP Critic for Natural Resources
Neil Maxwell, Interim Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development
Dr. David McKeown, Toronto Medical Officer of Health