DGR court challenge put on hold until new year


By Barb McKay


A request for a judicial review of the recommendation from an independent panel for the federal government to approve OPG’s plan to bury low and intermediate level waste has been put on hold until next year.


Rod McLeod, a director with Save Our Saugeen Shores (SOS) confirmed Friday that a Federal Court had agreed to delay hearing the case until February 2016. SOS was one of several groups that participated in extensive Joint Review Panel (JRP) hearings in Kincardine in 2013 and 2014 to review and receive public comment on OPG’s environmental assessment report for its proposed plan to store low and intermediate level nuclear waste in a deep geologic repository (DGR) more than 600 metres underground at the Bruce Power site. In May, the JRP submitted its 457-page report to federal Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq, recommending that the project proceed. Aglukkaq then had until Sept. 2 to make a decision on whether the project would proceed. SOS is challenging the JRP’s recommendation, arguing that the federally-appointed panel is biased and the recommendation is unreasonable.


The public had until June 6 to file a notice of application for judicial review of the decision. On June 5, SOS gave its notice to the Federal Court. At that point, McLeod said, the group had one month to fulfill a number of requirements in order for the case to be heard, including filing affidavit material for the court to review, as well as a record of the JRP proceedings. The group would also need to prepare a written argument of why it is requesting the judicial review.


However, Aglukkaq recently decided to delay her decision until December, following the federal election, to allow for further public input on conditions that should potentially be attached to the project.


“That put us in a position where we were required to meet very strict time limits when the federal Minister did not,” said McLeod.


Lawyers for SOS met with lawyers for the other parties, including the federal government and OPG, and mutually agreed to delay the court process. The courts agreed to delay the requirements for all parties until early next year. SOS now has until mid-January to file all of its documentation. The court process will follow. McLeod said how SOS proceeds will be dependent on Aglukkaq’s decision.


“If the Minister agrees with the JRP then our judicial review becomes more a judicial review of her decision,” he said, adding that if she decides not to approve OPG’s plan then there is no need to proceed.