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Whistleblowers claim Canada’s nuclear watchdog withholding info that could prevent Fukushima-sized disaster via National Observer

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According to an open letter sent to nuclear officials and environmentalists by a group of anonymous whistleblowers, Canada’s nuclear energy watchdog is not doing enough. They say the commission has been withholding information concerning major safety risks at Canada’s nuclear power plants.

The authors of the letter say they work for the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CSNC). In the letter, they present five case studies which allegedly demonstrate that CNSC commissioners are not provided with the information they need to make informed decisions about a plant’s integrity.

They also claim that certain plants in Canada are in non-compliance with safety regulations, raising public safety risks.

But in a statement sent to National Observer on Tuesday, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC), disagreed with the whistleblowers. It said an analysis of the whistleblowers’ claims began immediately after the commission received the letter. “The CNSC is a science-based organization which fosters a working environment that encourages staff to communicate their best professional judgments. This sometimes results in differences of professional opinion; therefore the CNSC has multiple mechanisms for staff to raise concerns,” the commission’s statement said.

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The whistleblowers’ letter identifies nine things the authors think CNSC could do to correct safety issues. CNSC should start by assigning an independent expert to review the letter’s claims, they write.

They also call for nuclear plant operators to conduct independent peer reviews of their Probabilistic Safety Assessments, commission a new regulatory quality update at Darlington, and increase transparency by releasing documents to the public.

The letter was sent to CNSC President Michael Binder, who was appointed by the former Conservative government in 2008 after controversially firing former president Linda Keen. Prime Minister Harper had criticized her for being a Liberal appointee after she refused to bow to political pressure and restart a nuclear reactor.

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