Today the Globe & Mail ran two more stories that pretty much blow the government's spin on Chalk River out of the water, as well as exposing Natural Resources Minister Gary Lunn as a lousy, stinking liar.
You really need to read them both.
The first article dispels any remaining notion that any of this ever had anything to do with isotopes or public safety. Even after following this story rather closely over the past few months, this particular section caused my jaw to drop to the floor (emphasis mine):
Ms. Keen's suggestion that her overstretched commission would no longer prioritize prelicensing was seen as obstructionist.
AECL's private-sector partners, including SNC-Lavalin, GE Canada and Hitachi Canada, hired some of the best-connected lobbyists in Ottawa to carry that message forward; other industry members complained directly to the Prime Minister's Office, sources said.
"We've tried to communicate however we could to whomever we could, to make this point," said Patrick Lamarre, president of SNC-Lavalin's nuclear division.
Michael Burns, the B.C.-based wind power executive who Mr. Lunn appointed as chairman of AECL, began to lobby the minister, whom he said he spoke with once a week during his chairmanship, about addressing the problems with Ms. Keen and her commission.
"I told [Mr. Lunn] then the dysfunctional relationship was going to cause serious trouble for commercial operations at the company. I told him we were going to have a train wreck. And I gave him a plan to fix it," Mr. Burns said.
The goal, he said, was to induce the government to legislate an overhaul at the CNSC, including Ms. Keen's position.
Mr. Lunn refused to discuss whether he attempted to push that reform in Ottawa, saying he is "not at liberty to talk about … discussions with cabinet colleagues."
No. Of course he isn't. But since the guy he appointed as chairman claims that Lunn was making a serious effort to bring this suggested overhaul to pass, I think it's pretty safe to assume that such discussions did, in fact, take place. Which means that even then, a government minister was attempting to interfere with the operation of a quasi-judicial tribunal at the behest of a Crown corporation for purely commercial reasons.
Another jaw-dropper is the revelation that the reactor would probably have been allowed to re-start anyway on December 18th, just two days after it actually did. Seems the AECL had screwed up some paperwork justifying a re-start with just one back-up powered pump, which was all the CNSC had asked for to give its approval. If they hadn't screwed up the paperwork (known as a 'safety case'), the reactor could have been re-started as much as a week earlier.
The second article reveals the existence of emails and at least one witness who can prove that Gary Lunn lied to a parliamentary committee when he claimed that he knew nothing about anything until Dec 3rd:
"I sent an e-mail on Nov. 29 or 30 ... which said this is serious, we need to get on this," the source said.
Mr. Lunn took a break from skiing in British Columbia on Dec. 1 to respond to the e-mail, the source said, adding that Mr. Lunn confirmed he "knew it was a situation he needed to work on."
"He certainly knew there was a situation and he was going to get on it Monday morning," the source said. "I assumed in my conversation he had ingested all the data in the [e-mail]. My assumption may be wrong, but when he said to me he'd received my message and acted on it, as far as I could tell he knew everything there was to know."
When confronted with this evidence, Mr. Lunn sputtered, looked around nervously, repeated his claims of ignorance, then suddenly tore off all his clothes and ran screaming into the snow.
And then he exploded.
H/T to Dave, Lord Kitchener's Own, Impolitical, and all you other bastards who found time to blog on this today while I was at work. Hmph.