Public hearing on BWXT NEC licensing renewal application rescheduled for Peterborough

A  public hearing will take place this spring on a licensing renewal application by nuclear energy firm BWXT Nuclear Energy Canada (NEC) to allow uranium dioxide pellet production at its Peterborough facility.

BWXT NEC currently ships uranium pellets from its Toronto facility and zirconium alloy tubes manufactured at its Arnprior, Ont., site to the Peterborough facility where they are assembled into fuel bundles. The Peterborough facility is housed at the former GE Peterborough facility on Monaghan Road.

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BWXT aims to renew its Class 1B nuclear fuel facility operating licence for a period of 10 years as the current licence expires on Dec. 31, 2020. As part of the licence renewal application, BWXT is seeking one change to allow pellet manufacturing at the Peterborough facility. If its licence request is approved, the company would be permitted to move its uranium fuel pelleting operations from Toronto to Peterborough, or produce pellets at both facilities.

The company says the flexibility to conduct pelleting at both sites would allow it to adapt to changing business needs.

“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 stated.

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission initially had a public hearing scheduled in Toronto for feedback on the application. However, last week the nuclear safety regulator announced the hearing would be moved to Peterborough this March.

The relocation was requested by the Citizens Against Radioactive Neighbourhoods (CARN), which argued and lobbied that Peterborough citizens deserved better access to speak on the application since their “rights, health and environment stand to be affected” by the licensing decision, CARN argued.

“As the project will not undergo a federal environmental assessment, the commission’s hearing is the public’s only means of participating in the decision-making process,” stated Kerri Blaise, CARN’s legal counsel. “CARN was particularly concerned that a hearing in Toronto would impede Peterborough citizens’ ability to participate and effectively remove the local voice, concerns and knowledge from the purview of the commission.”

The hearing will be held at the Regency Ballroom at the Holiday Inn on George Street from March 4-5 and, if required, March 6. A time has not been set yet.

Anyone who wishes to speak on BWXT’s application can visit the commission’s website and complete a request form before Jan. 27, 2020.

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