NRU Affair sign now

In that, the issue surrounding the production of medical isotopes at the NRU Reactor is a complex one. Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL) was faced with a serious decision: Should it prolong the shutdown of the NRU reactor, risking those who rely on its products for medical diagnoses, or to run the NRU reactor outside of license and safety guidelines, risking those who may suffer from radiation exposure should the reactor suffer catastrophic failure? Balancing medical need with safety could not have been an easy decision to take. One thing is very clear: either decision would be controversial.

And in that, the people of Canada entrust such difficult decisions to Quasi-Judicial Administrative Tribunals, such as the CNSC. We believe that those best able to understand and capably administer such areas are those who work in the area, as opposed to elected officials who may have no education or training in specialized fields. We believe that these tribunals of experts must operate away from government interference, but in the interest of the public. The people of Canada have entrusted the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission with the awesome task of administering the countries nuclear materials and facilities while ensuring that we, the public, are safe. In short, the CNSC is responsible for making sure that Chalk River does not join the list of horrendous nuclear accidents alongside Windscale (UK), Three Mile Island (USA), and Chernobyl (Russia).

And in that, such issues are too important to be left to a minister, or a government. The House of Commons at least has the collective wisdom of several hundred people. The actions of the government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his Minister of Natural Resources, Gary Lunn, in dealing with the medical isotope crisis resulting from the NRU shutdown have left us, the voters, greatly disturbed.

We, therefore, present this petition to make our wishes clear.

We, the undersigned people of Canada, do hereby call upon our government, our Members of Parliament, and our appointed officials to ensure the following:

1 - While we may disagree with her decisions, Ms. Keene has demonstrated her integrity and her ability to discharge her duties, even in the face of unwarranted government pressure. When dealing with the NRU crisis and the subsequent medical isotope shortage, Ms. Keene was faithful to her appointed role in Nuclear Safety. We, therefore, request that Ms. Linda Keene be immediately re-instated to her position of president of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission.

2 - We find the actions of Natural Resources Minister Gary Lunn to be deeply troubling. His attempts at intimidation of Ms Keene, as revealed in his correspondence of 27 December 2007, demonstrate an appalling breech of public trust. Both the tone and content of this correspondence reveal the Ministers lack of professionalism. We find that the Member is lacking the skill and character required for by Minister of our Government. We therefore require that Minister Gary Lunn be immediately removed from his position in cabinet and barred from holding any such position in the future.

3 - Minister Lunns direct contact with an arms-length commission unethical and possibly illegal. Such agencies exist specifically to prevent any government official from dictating the administration of key areas. We, the people of Canada, entrust the direct administration of certain areas to people with knowledge in that area. We believe that non-elected panels of experts are better able to provide appropriate oversight than those who hold elective office and must, of necessity, have a different agenda. The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission is such an agency. We feel that Minister Lunns actions severely compromise the independence of the CSNC. We, therefore, ask that Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner, Ms Mary Dawson, investigate Minister Lunns actions with respect to the NRU crisis, his contact with the Canadian Nuclear Safety Council, and the Ministers role in the removal of Linda Keene from her position. We further request that the Commissioner investigate the Harper Government for its complicity in Minister Lunns actions.

4 - As the NRU reactor produces more than half of the worlds supply of medical isotopes, this work is far too critical to be based at a single facility. As the people of Canada, with vested interest in both the health of the world and nuclear safety, we therefore, request that the Ministry of Natural Resources develop a comprehensive plan to increase and diversify isotope production so that, in future, the shut-down of a single facility will not result in such crisis.

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Daisy ButlerBy:
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