Round two in nuclear talks

Science

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 (R) Saugeen Shores Mayor Mike Smith in discussion with Saugeen First Nation Chief, Randall Kahgee

Today was round two in the hearing for Bruce Power's application for renewal of its license with the Canadian Nuclear Safety Committion (CNSC).

The application is an historical precedent setting out a five-year term compared to the former two year terms that were the usual approvals given.

Today, was also the opportunity for 'intervenors' to have their say In all, 11 groups and/or individuals came forward, some with concerns and others in support of the licensing application.

Those who presented their submissions, either orally or written or both were: County of Bruce, Power Workers' Union (PWU), Canadian Nuclear Workers' Council & Grey-Bruce District Labour Council, Saugeen Ojibway Nations, Citizens for Renewable Energy, Greenpeace Canada, Historic Saugeen Metis, Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility, Society of Energy Professionals, South Bruce Impact Advisory Committee and Eugene Bourgeois of Philosopher's Stone. Most were in support of the license renewal, some were not.

The first presenter was the County of Bruce, represented by County of Bruce Warden, Bill Goetz, who delivered the submission on behalf of the eight elected mayors in the communities most impacted by Bruce Power's facility. As would be expected, all members of Bruce County supported the Bruce Power application for renewal of its licenses for Bruce A and B in addition to the re-fuel application for Units 1 and 2 at Bruce A as part of the refurbishment project.

"Bruce Power provides employment to many people in Bruce County," read Goetz from the County submission. ".... Bruce County and Bruce Power have a strong and open relationship where Bruce Power reports to Bruce county Council and senior staff in front of the media each month on its safety environmental and production performance and provides updates on projects and industry issues relevant to Bruce Power."

The Commission asked Goetz if the eight municipalities also encompassed the First Nations and if the the First Nations were represented on County Council. Goetz replied that the County and First Nations often worked things out on an informal basis but admitted that Council does not deal directly with them [First Nations] at the County level.

Other groups in support of the application were the PWU, the Canadian Nuclear Workers' Council & Grey-Bruce District Labour Council, the Society of Energy Professionals and the South Bruce Impact Advisory Committee, although some of them also had concerns.

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01/10/2009 11:14 PM


(L) Bruce County Warden, Bill Goetz talks with Bruce Power's Ross Lamont

The PWU, represented by its Vice-President, Peter Faulkner, explained that its more than 2600 members on-site work in all facets, including administration, security, maintenance and first-line supervision. "Our members represent the front-line operations and the majority live in the surrounding communities." While the PWU supports the application for license renewal, the organization also had some concerns of its own. "While we support the five-year renewal period," said Faulkner, "we ask that the CNSC meet with Bruce Power once a year during the five years to review any issues. We also continue to raise the issue of the lack of skilled, knowledgeable staff. The Power Workers Union has asked that Bruce Power increase the numbers through new hires and the training of existing staff. We are, for the record, asking for a formal discussion between the PWU, CNSC and Bruce Power on a regular basis."

Faulkner said that he felt it was important that a mid-term review take place between the PWU, CNSC and Bruce Power.

Duncan Hawthorne, who was on the hot seat during the hearing, said that he felt any opportunity for open dialogue was a good thing but that the annual review sufficiently answered any questions.

The PWU agreed that there had been significant improvement in the relationship with Bruce Power. When it comes to issues or concerns on-site, there is a series of levels to deal with them including a Joint Committee, Policy Committee and senior management. "The system works very well," said Faulkner, "and we've (PWU) been working very diligently with the company.

Hawthorne then added that the reason for the tiered system allowed everyone on-site to be represented. "Our philosophy has been that we have committees to solve our own problems. The Joint Committee will try its best to resolve issued and we try to never take issues off-site. We want to solve our own problems. It's a policy and everyone knows about it."

The PWU agreed. "Often arbitrators don't understand the workings of the site," said Faulkner, "and, therefore, it's better to solve issues on-site. There will always be a difference of opinion. The union will always say we need more staff and the company will we, we have enough."

"We are trying to bring in more workers in a pro-active way," said Hawthorne. "Our focus has been to recruit bright, young people to make them nuclear operators. The examinations are not easy. Also, one of the things we are working on is to have senior partners pass on their knowledge in a mentoring way before retirement. We have been trying to escalate the whole Nuclear Operator program."

The PWU said it is looking down the road so that it will have appropriate staff available at all times. "We must come to an understanding and we are willing to work with the company."

Hawthorne agreed. "There will always be differences but we are working at improving relationships."

The process of the hearing was complex with many issues raised ranging from the environment to health and safety of not only those on-site but in surrounding communities.

..... to be continued

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