Sunday, March 15, 2009

How are we supposed to know? 

I find this kind of story extremely confusing.
If Canada's nuclear industry is able to sell several new reactors and make billions of dollars and create lots of jobs, then firing Linda Keen to clear the way for the Nuclear Safety Commission to pre-approve new reactors would turn out to be the best move the Harper government ever made.
If instead there is a horrible nuclear accident because the reactors aren't safe because the Nuclear Safety Commission didn't know what it was approving, then firing Linda Keen was the worst mistake the Harper government ever made.
Of course, perhaps both things could happen. Or neither.
So how do we know? Maybe all we can do it look at the Canadian track record.
As a general rule, I think Canada has found that political decisions have turned out to be bad decisions if they were based on an ideological agenda rather than on non-ideological evaluation.
So if changing Nuclear Safety Commission policy to allow pre-approval of new reactors was based on sound science that fuddy-duddy Keen was too obstructive to grasp, then OK.
But if the policy change was just based on a kneejerk pro-business anti-regulation ideology, then watch out.
And I think Greg Weston is a little worried, too:
According to its own bumpf, commission staff conducting last year's review were able to determine “at a high level” that the new Candu design meets Canadian codes and regulations for safety, performance and quality assurance.
What seemed odd is that last month, long after the review was done, the commission issued a contract for staff training on “regulations and associated codes and standards applicable to the construction of new nuclear facilities including those types that have never been built before in Canada such as ACR-1000...”

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