Nuclear Liability and Compensation Act

An Act respecting civil liability and compensation for damage in case of a nuclear incident

This bill was last introduced in the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session, which ended in December 2009.

Sponsor

Lisa Raitt  Conservative

Status

In committee (House), as of June 1, 2009
(This bill did not become law.)

Summary

This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment establishes a liability regime applicable in the event of a nuclear incident that makes operators of nuclear installations absolutely and exclusively liable for damages up to a maximum of $650 million. Operators are required to hold financial security in respect of their liability. This amount will be reviewed regularly and may be increased by regulation. The enactment also provides for the establishment, in certain circumstances, of an administrative tribunal to hear and decide claims. Finally, this enactment repeals the Nuclear Liability Act and makes consequential amendments.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Votes

June 1, 2009 Passed That the Bill be now read a second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Natural Resources.

Nuclear Liability and Compensation ActGovernment Orders

May 28th, 2009 / 12:40 p.m.
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NDP

Jim Maloway NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Madam Speaker, I appreciate having the opportunity to finish my remarks today, having started yesterday.

Bill C-20 has been before the House previously under a different number. With the perpetual election process we have around here, it appears that every two years we go into an election. As with a lot of the bills we are speaking to these days, it seems we get these bills through to the committee stage and then an election gets called and we have to start the whole process over. I am hoping that this Parliament survives long enough to finally clear off all these bills that have been in the hopper for two, four and six years, so that we can start with a fresh, new group.

Nuclear Liability and Compensation ActGovernment Orders

May 28th, 2009 / 12:40 p.m.
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NDP

Jim Maloway NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

The Conservative member says it is up to us. I think the member should understand that it is a two-way street. The government members have a big role to play in the reason that the House gets off the rails so often.

Though I had not been elected at the last Parliament, I remember when the Conservatives were torching their own committees.The whole place was shut down and things were not getting done. They say one cannot teach an old dog new tricks. I think we seeing some evidence that one can, because we do have a couple of committees in the House now that are working very well. We see some possibly positive signs of some future improvements and cooperation.

That said, the NDP is on record as opposing Bill C-20, the Nuclear Liability and Compensation Act. We do so for a number of reasons. In particular, this bill covers liability of only $650 million. That may seem like a lot because the current legislation allows for only $75 million. It is hard to believe that here we are in 2009 with limits on liability for nuclear reactors of only $75 million. That is extremely small.

Clearly, this law has to be updated. It is time to get it updated. The government has decided to raise the bar to $650 million.

We say that $650 million is far too low. If we look at our largest trading partner, the United States, they have a $10 billion limit. We know that when nuclear reactors are built, whether they are in Canada or the United States, they are likely going to be built in populated areas, near cities. So I cannot, for the life of me, see why we should somehow have only a $650 million liability limit in Canada and a $10 billion liability limit in the United States when the reactors are in proximity to the same sorts of risk and exposure.

That is one area I see as a problem. Certainly, if there is damage with a reactor in Canada, there is likely to be as much damage out of a reactor that melts down in the United States. There is a consistency there between the companies.

U.S. nuclear companies want to buy Canadian nuclear facilities. They require this change, so the U.S. companies want this legislation before they buy in. Today in the paper we have an article regarding the sale of our nuclear facilities to a private interest. That gets back to the budget, when the government announced that it was going to raise $6 billion selling government assets. There is no worse time to be selling government assets than when we are in a recession.

What is the government doing? We were trying to determine what sort of assets it would be selling off. Clearly, this is one area where it is looking at selling off assets. It seems to me that to the extent that we have to be involved in nuclear, and I do not really like to see us too heavily involved in nuclear, certainly not building any more new plants, but dealing with the plants we have, we should be at least keeping the ownership of the facilities within the purview of the government.

At the end of the day, if we are going to privatize nuclear facilities and require liability limits from these same facilities where there were 81 nuclear accidents in the last 50 years, we know that the risks involved are sufficient that we would not find insurance companies wanting to cover it, and if we do, it is going to be at very excessive rates. What will happen after a loss is that the taxpayers end up picking up the shortfall anyway. So why would we allow private entrepreneurs to own nuclear facilities, and after they construct their facility, they come to us after a couple of years and say they were not able to obtain high enough levels of liability insurance? What are we going to do at that point? Are we going to dismantle the plant? No, the government is going to backstop. The bottom line is that we know, at the end of the day, when the insurance policies run out, the government is going to backstop the whole process anyway.

We are dealing with an industry that has a very spotty safety record. I have a list of 81 nuclear accidents since 1950. Certainly within my lifetime, on December 12, 1952, Chalk River, which is seemingly always in the news, had a reactor core damaged. Approximately 30 kilograms of uranium was released through the reactor stack. There was a huge problem involving that incident in 1952.

On May 24, 1958, once again at Chalk River, just a few years later, over 600 people were employed in the cleanup of the spill at that time.

When we juxtapose 81 nuclear accidents with, say, a more friendly source of energy such as hydroelectricity, I am not aware in Manitoba or in terms of Hydro-Québec, or any hydro producer in North America, of these utilities having any incidents at all. If we do have a hydro failure, the worst that happens is that we have a blackout, which we had a couple of years ago. We had rolling blackouts through the United States and parts of Canada, but we do not see huge contamination. We do not see people being poisoned, cancer rates going up, or the cleanup problems we have with nuclear.

Also a big area of concern is the storage. We have a big issue in Manitoba with the Pinawa area and the desire to store the waste in a mine shaft. All the studies that have been done and the opposition to the idea have eaten up a lot of time and money to try to determine how stable the rock is in the mine to enable storage of the nuclear material.

We have examples, as I mentioned yesterday, of certainly the Russians, but probably the Americans too, dumping nuclear waste into the ocean. Who is to know where that material is and whether those barrels are leaking? It seems to me that eventually it is going to happen and we have just contaminated our environment for the last 50 years using this approach. Why do we keep doing the same things when we know they do not work?

I mentioned yesterday the asbestos situation. There was a time when we did not know the effects of asbestos and we spent billions of dollars installing it in government buildings and other buildings. Then at a certain point we found out the medical evidence was that it is not safe. Now we are spending billions having it removed from government buildings.

There is the whole issue with trans fats and DDT. We have had long experience with nuclear power and we see the government trying to kickstart the process, privatize the nuclear industry, basically selling it to the Americans at cut-rate prices, and trying to facilitate more development, particularly in places like India.

There is an article in the paper today talking about how contracts are contemplated with India and all the provisos we have to make sure that country does not use it to build nuclear bombs. That is nice. How well did that work in the past? We started out with only two nuclear powers, and there are so many right now that I do not even know what the final count is. Dozens of countries are in the process of trying to obtain a nuclear bomb, and one way they are doing that is starting out with nuclear power plants.

This could be an overpowering issue, a supported issue, if we did not have alternatives available. We have hydro power. There is Hydro-Québec in Quebec and Manitoba Hydro in Manitoba. Manitoba has developed 5,000 megawatts of power and there is another 5,000 megawatts that can be developed.

What we should be doing is building an east-west power grid. I know members of the Conservative government are supportive of that. The member for Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia and Minister of State (Democratic Reform) is a strong supporter of the idea of building an east-west power grid. What happened? The federal government wrote a cheque for $500 million or so to the Ontario government a year and a half ago, and nothing has been done as far as an east-west power grid is concerned. I think the money is being used to develop nuclear plants.

If we could build a power grid to Manitoba and beyond, we could develop our final power plants and provide the power to Ontario so that it could get rid of the coal plants it is using now. It would stop the need for developing more nuclear power.

How long is it going to take Ontario, Saskatchewan or Alberta, all interested in nuclear power plants, to develop them? They are never going to get done. I do not know of any politician who would go out door-knocking and campaigning in favour of nuclear power. I may be wrong, but certainly none in Manitoba will. This industry is still very tarnished and I cannot see members of any party campaigning on nuclear energy.

A member from Saskatchewan stood yesterday and talked about that very issue. I suggested to him that if Brad Wall and his Conservative government in Saskatchewan think they are going to be re-elected in two or three years after campaigning that nuclear power plants are going to be built, I say good luck to them. It does not matter who the NDP nominates at next week's leadership convention; he or she is going to be the next premier of Saskatchewan if the Conservatives run on that issue.

We have dealt with the hydro situation. Let us deal with wind power. Wind power was not a going concern. Even though Holland had windmills for hundreds of years, wind power has not been a going concern over the years. If people go to Pincher Creek, Alberta, as I have, they will see wind farms that were built in 1990-91, sort of at the beginning of the wind farm development in Canada. It is amazing. It is almost like a museum of wind farm development. We see small turbines from those days and compare them to the huge turbines we see now, and the cost of production of those wind turbines has dropped substantially.

Wind power is clearly the way to go. Gull Lake in Saskatchewan has 99 megawatts of wind power. We have the St. Leon wind farm in Manitoba and a new one is coming up that will be the largest in Canada. This country's potential for wind development has no end. We only need to look at what Germany has done in turning the whole equation around, away from the focus on nuclear and oil, and over to wind development and solar panel development.

A program on CBC or CTV the other day described how Canada lost a cutting edge solar panel developer who took his plant and built it in Germany. He is thriving there all because the government did not have the foresight to look ahead, plan ahead and try to get him to locate that plant here.

This country needs to start catching up in the process. It is falling behind. We need to look at countries like Germany that are leading the way. A German politician has made a career of trying to turn around this slavish loyalty toward the old ways of doing things. We need to get moving forward. I know we have allies in the Liberal Party and in the Bloc in this area. We just need to pull the Neanderthal Conservatives along and we can get things done.

Nuclear Liability and Compensation ActGovernment Orders

May 28th, 2009 / 1 p.m.
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Conservative

Mike Wallace Conservative Burlington, ON

Madam Speaker, as it is questions and comments, I would like to make a comment about the member's speech.

I have a couple of clarifications for the member, who obviously does not understand the industry as well as he should. With regard to AECL, the federal government does not own, other than Chalk River, any commercial reactors in this country. They are all run by the provinces and are all provincial organizations.

I know the member is from a different province, but in the province of Ontario, the Bruce Nuclear Power Plant is run by the private sector and its number one owner is the Ontario teachers' pension plan. Therefore, there is private sector involvement and that has nothing to do with us.

I want to be clear, though, on what was announced today on the AECL issue. AECL has two divisions and the first is a research division that has Chalk River in it. The announcement was that we would look at a new management process to ensure we can continue to develop our nuclear technology in this country. The other side is commercial, which provides the reactors. Reactor development does the actual selling of reactors around the world.

We know of a hundred different locations that are looking at nuclear power over the next number of years. We need to be in that business or we are out of the business.

The announcement for AECL today was that we would upgrade AECL to be able to be in the business so that our experience and development is turned into a commercial opportunity for this country.

The member talked about hydro power, which we all agree with, but could he name any research that he has done and where there is potential for hydro power that has not been looked at currently?

Nuclear Liability and Compensation ActGovernment Orders

May 28th, 2009 / 1 p.m.
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NDP

Jim Maloway NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Madam Speaker, we have 5,000 megawatts in Manitoba that are ready to be developed. I already explained to the member that wind power is a developing area that should be looked at.

What the Conservatives are trying to do is commercialize nuclear power, a long discredited enterprise. The government's vision is to take us back 30 or 40 years but that just will not work. Nobody is headed that way.

We are trying to get into a green economy. U.S. President Obama has taken over from eight years of backward Republicans, the Conservatives' Republican cousins' backward policies, and he is trying to drive the American economy forward into the future with green initiatives. All I can say is that those guys are stuck in the past.

Nuclear Liability and Compensation ActGovernment Orders

May 28th, 2009 / 1:05 p.m.
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Liberal

Anthony Rota Liberal Nipissing—Timiskaming, ON

Madam Speaker, I want to thank the member for the speech he gave. A lot of thought went into it. He brought forward a couple of points that I found very interesting, one having to do with foreign ownership and the other with safety.

I want to go back to what happened in Ontario when the current finance minister was there. The government built a structural deficit. There was a problem. So that it would not show, it sold off assets, assets that were producing income, such as Highway 407 which was sold to foreign interests mainly. Money is now being collected from Ontarians and it is going out of the country, profits that could have been going to Ontarians.

We see the same thing happening here. The minister has abandoned Ontario, was thrown out of Ontario, basically, and now he has come to the federal government to do the same damage.

What we see is a deficit that is one of the biggest we have ever seen. What is the Conservative government doing? It is selling off assets. It is not a highway or a building. It is a nuclear plant, which really concerns me. If that were to go into foreign hands and something were to happen, the foreign owner would not only take profits away but when it was all over the owner would pick up and walk away. It is not the foreign owner's country.

Would the hon. member comment on the safety issues for not only Canadians who live directly around Chalk River but also for those of us who live in North Bay? The people in Ottawa are downwind so it also affects them. A major concern is that radioactive waste can blow over and hurt people. It affects generations. It is not just like when a cloud of smoke comes over, we breath it in and we feel lousy for a day. No. Nuclear waste stays around for thousands of years, which is where I have some concerns. I have a concern with selling that to a foreign owner who does not care about Canadian lives.

Nuclear Liability and Compensation ActGovernment Orders

May 28th, 2009 / 1:05 p.m.
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NDP

Jim Maloway NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Madam Speaker, the member is absolutely correct. It is just totally bizarre that we would have private firms developing and owning a new nuclear reactor, having to buy insurance for the reactor and we limit the liability to $650 million when in the United States it is $10 billion and in Germany and Japan it is unlimited liability. We know at the end of the day that if the owners do not buy the insurance some year because it becomes too pricey, or even if they do have the insurance in place and the damages exceed the insurance policy, it will be the taxpayers who keep paying over and over again for the cleanup costs and then the storage costs that go on forever.

There is something in the computer business known as total cost of ownership where one does not just look at the cost of the computer. One needs to look at the total cost of operating the system. That is what we should be looking at.

When we look at those costs in the nuclear industry, we will never win because there is the cost of developing the plant, the huge delays, the cost overruns and the huge insurance costs. The insurance people are not stupid. They know there have been 81 accidents in the last 50 years, which I am sure will scare off a lot of insurance companies. Then there is the storage issue. Nobody wants the waste trucked down their highways nor do they want it stored anywhere near where they live.

What are we going to do with all this stuff? Are we going to store it here in the Parliament Buildings? People do not want it. There is a very limited market. Maybe people are agreeable to nuclear development if it is someone else's problem. If we are going to store it, build it and keep it in Ontario, fine, but the people will not like it there either.

The problem here is that we are dealing with a bad scenario and we have good scenarios for a change. We have hydro development, wind power and other sources. I spoke about the solar panel company that Canada did not help out and it went to Germany. The Germans gave it whatever it needed and it is producing huge amounts of solar panels in Germany right now. Here we are once again on the outside looking in.

Nuclear Liability and Compensation ActGovernment Orders

May 28th, 2009 / 1:05 p.m.
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Conservative

Michael Chong Conservative Wellington—Halton Hills, ON

Madam Speaker, I have three comments to make that might clarify this debate.

The first is about the cost of nuclear. Solar and wind power cost far more than nuclear power does at the present stage in their development. The idea that nuclear is prohibitively expensive and therefore we should not be developing that technology or refurbishing the reactors that we presently have is a fallacy.

Second, with respect to the environmental footprint, nuclear has a very small environmental footprint. When we compare what we need to do in many parts of this country to produce hydro power in northern regions, when we look at the amount of watershed that needs to be flooded in order to produce this hydro power, there are significant environmental effects from the production of hydro in many parts of this country and the development of new hydro.

Furthermore, I would add that with respect to the production of power from other sources, we produce a lot of toxic chemicals, like mercury, through smokestack pollution and coal-fired plants that could easily be replaced with nuclear.

Finally, I would point out that the idea that we can move off nuclear is simply a fallacy. Ontario produces—

Nuclear Liability and Compensation ActGovernment Orders

May 28th, 2009 / 1:10 p.m.
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NDP

Jim Maloway NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Madam Speaker, I draw the member's attention to former Conservative premier, Gary Filmon, from 1991, who was signing an agreement with the Ontario government at that time to build an east-west power grid because Manitoba has 5,000 megawatts of clean hydroelectric power.

We have exported this power for many years and are making huge amounts of money doing it, all north and south to the United States. All we need to do is build an east-west power grid. The member should talk to his own member, the minister of democratic change, who, last fall, when I made a speech on this matter, made his way over to talk to me about it and said, “Keep up the good work on this. We need that east-west power grid”. He sits only a few seats away from that member. Do they not talk to one another over there? The member for—

Nuclear Liability and Compensation ActGovernment Orders

May 28th, 2009 / 1:10 p.m.
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Liberal

Kirsty Duncan Liberal Etobicoke North, ON

Madam Speaker, ballet slippers for little feet, cardboard pictures of Lenin and dolls in various states of dress and dismemberment provide a glimpse into kindergarten life before it came to a standstill in April 1986, when Chernobyl's reactor 4 exploded.

The fire burned for 10 days, contaminating tens of thousands of square miles, and the fallout was 400 times greater than that of Hiroshima. Thirty people died in the blast, four thousand died of cancer, a third of a million people were driven from their homes and six hundred thousand registered as cleanup workers or liquidators. Of these, 240,000 received the highest radiation doses.

Over the years, the compensation costs, economic losses, health and cleanup expenditures and lost productivity mounted into the hundreds of billions of dollars. Today Chernobyl remains the world's worst nuclear disaster.

Growing up, our high school teachers and our professors taught us to be concerned about nuclear accidents, nuclear waste, nuclear weapons proliferation and pollution from uranium mining. Unfortunately these problems have not gone away. For example, we continue to bury waste, a policy of “out of sight, out of mind”, despite not knowing the full environmental and health consequences.

Bill C-20 is however a positive step to managing and minimizing the risks involved in the use of nuclear material, namely through preparation, response and reparation. Specifically, Bill C-20 establishes the civil liability regime and compensation to address damages resulting from radiation in the event of a radioactive release from a Canadian nuclear installation, or from nuclear materials being transported to or from the installation. Compensable damage includes bodily injury, damage to property, economic and property losses and psychological trauma resulting from such injury or damage.

It is important that the bill address psychological trauma. The Chernobyl accident impacted economic prosperity, personal health and social well-being. Victims reported high levels of anxiety, stress, medically unexplained physical symptoms and reckless behaviour, including alcohol and tobacco abuse and consumption of game from areas heavily contaminated with high levels of radioactive cesium.

Bill C-20 increases operator liability from $75 million to $650 million and would put Canada on par with liability limits in many other countries, as well as responding to the recommendations of the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources. The latter is important, as private insurers have consistently and systematically refused to provide coverage for damage resulting from nuclear incidents.

When discussing nuclear accidents, bodily injury may range from radiation sickness through to leukemia and other cancers. Radiation sickness is a serious illness that occurs when the entire body receives a high dose of radiation, usually over a short period of time. Many survivors of Chernobyl, Hiroshima and Nagasaki became ill with radiation sickness, which often began with nausea, diarrhea, skin damage and vomiting and progress to seizures and coma.

Most people who did not recover from radiation illness died within several months of exposure, usually from the destruction of bone marrow, which led to infections and internal bleeding. Unborn babies can also be exposed to radiation and they are especially vulnerable between two and fifteen weeks of pregnancy. The health consequences can be severe, including abnormal brain function, cancer, deformities and stunted growth.

Ionizing radiation can also cause certain types of leukemia. An elevated risk of blood cancer was first found among the survivors of the atomic bombings in Japan two to five years after exposure. Recent investigations suggest a doubling of the incidence of leukemia among the most highly exposed Chernobyl liquidators.

Unfortunately, time does not permit me to describe all potential health impacts such as cardiovascular problems, cataract and thyroid cancer.

Neither Bill C-20 nor its predecessors Bill C-63 and Bill C-5 have been the subject of lengthy public debate outside Parliament or have they attracted much media attention.

Members of the Canadian Nuclear Association have commented that the bill responds to society's needs and represents a balanced approach. The association further reports that the bill provides protection of the public under a coherent, explicit and stable framework.

Before putting forth questions that might be asked at committee, it is important to remind the House that while the government puts forth the bill, it is also responding to the leak at the Chalk River nuclear reactor, which provides a third of the world's medical isotopes.

The general manager of the Association of Imaging Producers and Equipment Suppliers points out that there have been at least five crises of medical isotope production in the last eighteen months. What makes the present crisis so challenging, however, is that three out of the four other reactors in the world that supply medical isotopes, in Belgium, France and South Africa, are also shut down.

While I support the bill in principle, it requires study at committee and careful questioning. For example, what are the projected economic, environmental and health costs of a nuclear release in Canada and possible impacts farther afield? Does the proposed compensation address those impacts?

We must remember that the Chernobyl fallout had far-reaching effects, spreading radionuclides as far away as Lapland in northern Scandinavia. The Arctic's Sami people are reindeer herders and face significant problems from the accident because of the high transfer rate of radioactive material from contaminated lichen to the reindeer. Many herds had to be slaughtered to avoid consumption of the meat. Scientists estimate that it will take another 20 years for radioactive levels in reindeer to fall to pre-Chernobyl levels.

The executive director of the Sierra Club of Canada reported:

A nuclear accident on the scale of the Chernobyl disaster would cost hundreds of billions of dollars in cleanup costs—conceivably 100 times more than the maximum liability industry would face under Bill C-63.

Belarus and the Ukraine are paying approximately $460 billion over 30 years to clean up Chernobyl. Twenty years after the accident, these countries still pay 5% to 7% of their budgets toward the cost of the catastrophe.

The bill is only a small part of a web of protection needed to make Canada more nuclear safe as well as providing life-saving medications to those in need.

We have had multiple wake-up calls. In August 1945, an American war plane dropped a nuclear bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. An estimated 80,000 people were incinerated and in the months that followed, another 60,000 died from the effects of radiation.

A few days later was Nagasaki. About 30% of the city, including almost all of the industrial district, was destroyed by the bomb and nearly 74,000 were killed and a similar number injured.

In 1979 radioactive steam leaked into the atmosphere in Pennsylvania when a water pump broke down at the Three Mile Island nuclear plant. There were fears that some of the plant's 500 workers had been contaminated.

Complacency cannot be an option when it comes to nuclear safety. Today we know the tremendous costs and we must take action.

Nuclear Liability and Compensation ActGovernment Orders

May 28th, 2009 / 1:20 p.m.
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Conservative

Michael Chong Conservative Wellington—Halton Hills, ON

Madam Speaker, I commend the member on her speech, which consisted of a lot of facts and figures and a broader perspective on the issue of nuclear liability. I thought it was quite well researched. I have a comment to make.

I think many people do not realize how integral to our electricity production our nuclear reactors are. Ontario produces 50% of its 25,000 megawatts a day from the nuclear reactors in the province. Many other jurisdictions around the world produce even higher percentages of their electricity from nuclear power. It is a greenhouse gas freeway of producing electrical power. It is also something that has been proven reliable for decades now. Yet there are still people out there who believe we can somehow eliminate or remove nuclear power from the electricity generation equation, and that simply is not possible.

In Ontario alone, as I mentioned before, 50% of the electricity comes from nuclear power. The idea that we can, through conservation alone and through solar and wind, replace 12,500 megawatts a day with environmentally-friendly measures, like conservation, wind or solar, is simply living in a fairytale land.

The bill will go a long way to ensuring the long-term viability of nuclear power in the country. Nuclear power will be part of our electricity generation mix for a long time. It is something I strongly support because it produces electricity without any greenhouse emissions. Of all the environmental choices we have to make, that is the most challenging one and the one on which we have to put the biggest emphasis.

Nuclear Liability and Compensation ActGovernment Orders

May 28th, 2009 / 1:20 p.m.
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Liberal

Kirsty Duncan Liberal Etobicoke North, ON

Madam Speaker, nuclear energy is part of the mix today. However, we have to ensure that it is safe. Chalk River had leaks in 1952 and 1958. There are leaks today. We do not know what the environmental and health hazards are going forward. Therefore, safety has to be paramount.

In talking about climate change, it is our most pressing environmental issue. We must look at many options for reducing climate change, from adaptation to mitigation. We have to look at nuclear energy. We have to look at renewable energy. We must look at the whole gamut of opportunities. There is no one solution to this global problem.

Nuclear Liability and Compensation ActGovernment Orders

May 28th, 2009 / 1:25 p.m.
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NDP

Paul Dewar NDP Ottawa Centre, ON

Madam Speaker, I agree with a lot of my colleague's comments up to the point where she says she supports the bill.

My colleagues in the New Democratic Party have said many times that when we look at other jurisdictions, this just does not add up. What does add up is the cost burden to the taxpayer, which does not make financial sense to us.

However, I want to ask her about what we can do to further strengthen regulation. I guess my colleague from the Conservative Party forgets that the fuel for nuclear power does not fall from the sky. It is mined and there are many consequences to that. In fact, greenhouse gases are emitted. Should we not look at the life cycle of nuclear power?

Our water, which is sourced from the Ottawa River, has tritium in it. There will be more of it because of the recent leak. We are not following the standards they have in other jurisdictions on tritium. It should not be going into the Ottawa River, but it is. I have a problem with that, as should everyone in the country and, indeed, the people who live here.

Is she okay with the limit on liability? Does she not think we should do more in terms of regulation, be it on how things are regulated and how things are put into the environment, and look at the life cycle of nuclear power and how uranium is mined?

Nuclear Liability and Compensation ActGovernment Orders

May 28th, 2009 / 1:25 p.m.
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Liberal

Kirsty Duncan Liberal Etobicoke North, ON

Madam Speaker, I absolutely agree that we must look at the life cycle in the production of nuclear energy.

I was very clear that the bill is part of a web of protection that is needed, in terms of mining the material and how we store it. I was clear in mentioning that we do not know the long-term environmental and human health impacts. The bill must be a part of a web of protection.

Nuclear Liability and Compensation ActGovernment Orders

May 28th, 2009 / 1:25 p.m.
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Liberal

Anthony Rota Liberal Nipissing—Timiskaming, ON

Madam Speaker, my question concerns the environment. We have heard about viability from my Conservative friend across the way regarding the nuclear plants. There is no question that we need electricity and we are going to have to decide where it comes from. Nuclear energy is an option. It is out there and it is a reality.

When we look at viability, viability is one thing. Does it work? Does it pay the bills? Does it work as far as finances go? That is a very important part of it, because with the profits, we have to keep up a certain level of safety. However, we cannot have viability at the expense of eliminating all liability so that if something happens, someone can walk away.

My concern is that the responsibility goes from $75 million to $650 million. What is the environmental cost, and is $650 million sufficient?

Nuclear Liability and Compensation ActGovernment Orders

May 28th, 2009 / 1:25 p.m.
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Liberal

Kirsty Duncan Liberal Etobicoke North, ON

Madam Speaker, it is important that liability has been increased from $75 million to $650 million, but is that enough? Does that take into account the environmental impacts? It depends on where the reactor is and the size of the leak. Will it take into account the human health impacts? If we look at Chernobyl, there are 4,000 cancer cases. We have to look at the economic impacts. We do not know how great the leak would be. The amount of $650 million is not a very large sum of money. This requires careful consideration at committee.