BWXT licence renewal application hearing extended to 3 days in Peterborough

BWXT is applying to produce uranium pellets at its Peterborough facility.
BWXT is applying to produce uranium pellets at its Peterborough facility. Global News Peterborough file

A public hearing in Peterborough to review a licence renewal application for BWXT Nuclear Energy Canada in Peterborough has been extended to three days.

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission says that due to the “number of interventions” to be consider during the public hearing, one more day has been added. Originally set for March 5 to 6, the CNSC has added March 4 to the hearings, which will be held at the Regency Ballroom in the Holiday Inn on 150 George Street in Peterborough.

The hearing begins March 2 to 3 at 8:30 a.m. at the Casa Do Alentejo Community Centre, 1130 Dupont St. in Toronto, before shifting to Peterborough.

READ MORE: Increased beryllium levels in Peterborough school soil not health concern: medical officer of health

The commission is reviewing the application from BWXT to renew its Class IB fuel facility-operating licence for a period of 10 years at its Peterborough and Toronto facilities. Its current licence, issued on Jan. 1, 2001, is valid until Dec. 31, 2020.

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However, the company is seeking a provision to permit the processing of uranium dioxide pellets at the Monaghan Road facility in Peterborough, which is currently conducted at its Toronto facility.

If approved, the company would be permitted to move its uranium fuel pelleting operations from Toronto to Peterborough, or produce pellets at both facilities.

BWXT plans to manufacture uranium pellets in Peterborough, says emissions from plant are safe
BWXT plans to manufacture uranium pellets in Peterborough, says emissions from plant are safe

BWXT NEC currently ships uranium pellets from its Toronto facility and zirconium alloy tubes manufactured at its Arnprior, Ont., site to Peterborough, where they are assembled into fuel bundles.

“While there is currently no plan to change the existing state of operations, including the flexibility to allow BWXT NEC’s Peterborough facility to conduct pelleting will help to ensure that BWXT NEC has the ability to adapt as needed to changing business needs over the decade-long licence period,” the company states in its application.

There have been a number of protests both outside the plant and at Peterborough city hall over BWXT’s request, citing possible health concerns about the uranium pellet production.

However, Peterborough’s medical officer of health, Dr. Rosana Salvaterra, stated last month there is no health threat with uranium pelleting and that the company has been adhering to guidelines.

READ MORE: Peterborough medical officer of health says no threat with BWXT uranium pelleting

According to the public hearing’s agenda, among delegations for the Peterborough hearings include oral presentations from BWXT; CNCS staff, the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment; Citizens Against Radioactive Neighbourhoods, Curve Lake First Nation, Peterborough Public Health, Port Hope Community Health Concerns Committee, Canadian Nuclear Workers’ Council, the Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Office of the Sisters of St. Vincent de Paul.

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Up to 50 citizens are also scheduled to make oral presentations, and more than 170 written submissions from citizens are also to be presented. All the presentations can be downloaded from the CNSC website.

The public hearing will be streamed live on the CNSC website.