Federal Court Rules Against Darlington Nuclear New Build ...
but What Does this Mean for the Darlington Refurbishment?
The Darlington Nuclear Project (the
"Project") was first proposed in
2006. In 2009, following the Project's initial planning stages,
an environmental assessment ("EA")
process was commenced under the Canadian Environmental
Assessment Act (since replaced by the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act,
2012 and referred to below as the
"CEAA"). The federal EA process
was conducted by a review panel (the
"Panel") and in August, 2011, the Panel
concluded that the Project was not likely to cause significant
adverse environmental effects, provided that certain recommended
mitigation measures were implemented.
A number of environmental groups (the
"Applicants") then filed applications
seeking a judicial review of the EA on various grounds, including
that the Panel failed to comply with the requirements of the CEAA
by not taking into account the broad range of "environmental
effects" that could result from the Project. Specifically, the
Applicants argued that the Panel did not take into account the
long-term effects of storing nuclear waste nor the potential
effects of a Fukushima-scale nuclear accident.
"The Federal Court's decision has no practical
effect, as the Ontario government has since abandoned plans for the
On May 14, 2014, the Federal Court released its decision on the
judicial review application and, with respect to the
above-described issues, ruled that the Panel:
Did not give the issue of long-term management and disposal of
used nuclear fuel adequate consideration; and
Failed to adequately consider the potential effects of a severe
The Court did not quash the EA report in its entirety, but
rather directed that it be returned to the Panel for further
consideration of certain issues, including those related to
disposal of nuclear waste and severe nuclear accidents.
The Federal Court's decision has no practical effect, as the
Ontario government has since abandoned plans for the new-build
Project. However, Ontario Power Generation
("OPG") has started the process leading
to the refurbishment of the existing nuclear reactors
at Darlington. The Applicants have also challenged the federal EA
for the refurbishment project on similar grounds (including that
the EA did not adequately consider the potential adverse
environmental effects of nuclear waste storage nor of severe
nuclear accidents). The Federal Court recently heard this second
judicial review application and we will be interested to see its
decision given that the OPG's refurbishment of the existing
reactors is an integral part of Ontario's Long-Term Energy Plan.
Canada is a constitutional monarchy, a parliamentary democracy and a federation comprised of ten provinces and three territories. Canada's judiciary is independent of the legislative and executive branches of Government.
The Government of Alberta recently announced a number of policy changes that will impact the Alberta Electricity Market, composed of its generators, transmitters, distributors, retailers, electricity consumers and wholesale electricity market.
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