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The Independence of the Nuclear Regulator: Notes from the Canadian Experience

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The firing of Linda Keen as President and Chief Executive Officer of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission provoked considerable debate within Canada and internationally about the independence of the Canadian nuclear regulator. Ms. Keen was dismissed from her position at the height of the crisis over a world‐wide shortage of medical isotopes caused by the shut‐down of the research reactor in Chalk River, Ontario. Under the terms of its licence, the reactor was required to have two cooling pumps connected to an emergency power supply as a backup in case of a power outage caused by an event such as an earthquake. In November 2007, after it was discovered that the pumps were not connected, the reactor was shut down. As panic over the shortage of medical isotopes grew, the government took three extraordinary measures: first, it issued a directive; second, it introduced emergency legislation in Parliament; and finally, it fired Linda Keen as President of the Commission. This paper examines those three measures and whether they constituted an unwarranted interference with the independence of the Canadian nuclear regulator.

Document Type: Review Article

Publication date: July 1, 2010

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