While there is no doubt that the current shortage of medical isotopes is a huge problem, simply restarting the reactor that produces them, against the advice of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission is a bad idea.
The House of Commons passed emergency legislation late Tuesday night to reopen an Ontario nuclear reactor that produces most of the world’s supply of critical medical isotopes, even though the site has been shut down for safety maintenance.
To pass before Christmas break, the bill needed all party support. Both the Bloc Québécois and the NDP had said they could live with the government’s plan to override the advice of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission and restart the 50-year-old reactor at Chalk River, Ont.
But Liberal deputy leader Michael Ignatieff said the Liberals would not sign off on the legislation until they were assured “that we’ve got some guarantees on safety.”
Earlier, Harper declared in the House of Commons “there will be no nuclear accident” resulting from reopening the plant, citing an independent analysis of the site that already said there would be no safety risks.
Unless Stephen Harper has been hiding a degree or two in nuclear physics, overriding the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission is a bad idea. It is the Nuclear Safety Commission that is responsible for maintaining the safety in Canada’s nuclear plants, the government should default to the advice of the experts on the commission and reactivate the plant when they are satisfied that it can be done safely.
UPDATE: The legislation overriding the recommendations of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission has passed with the support of all parties in the House of Commons.