Canada’s first formal license application for an SMR is the “Micro Modular Reactor” in Chalk River.
CCRCA, and many others provided written interventions to the CNSC on “the scope of an environmental assessment for the proposed Micro Modular Reactor Project at the Chalk River Laboratories” prior to the one-person “Panel of Commission: R. Velshi, President” that rendered its decision on July 26th.
The CCRCA submission noted, in particular, that under the Impact Assessment Act, the proponent would be required to include as a “factor” in the EA ““the extent to which the effects of the designated project hinder or contribute to the Government of Canada’s ability to meet its environmental obligations and its commitments in respect of climate change.”
We added, “the CNSC has proposed that proponents assess the total GHG production as part of CNSC-led environmental assessments” in its fact sheet entitled “Greenhouse gas emission assessments for the Canadian nuclear fuel cycle,”
Somehow, the Record of Decision on the project scope omits any mention of climate change.
The CNSC’s decision on the scope of the MMR project indicates that climate change is not a relevant factor in the consideration of environmental impact of SMRs.
Here’s our take-away:
- Reducing GHG emissions is a government priority. This is reflected in the Impact Assessment Act. The Minister of Natural Resources says nuclear power is essential to reduce GHGs (no path to net zero without nuclear)
- The CNSC did not include GHG emissions as a factor in assessing its first SMR license application – even when requested to do so – and even when its own “interim strategy for environmental assessments” calls for this.
- The CNSC should not lead environmental assessments of nuclear reactors, including SMRs.
- The Physical Activities Regulations under the Impact Assessment Act should be changed to remove exemptions for new nuclear reactors.