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CNSC extends radioactive material deadline for Mackenzie mill


March 10, 2009
By Pulp & Paper Canada

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) has extended a deadline for removing radioactive devices from the Wor…

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) has extended a deadline for removing radioactive devices from the Worthington pulp mill in Mackenzie, British Columbia until March 30.

The CNSC originally set the deadline for Feb. 13, shortly after the province took over the troubled mill. In a February hearing, lawyers for the province argued the deadline extension was needed to work out license agreements for the equipment in question: gauges containing radioactive material.

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The licenses used to be held by the mill’s former owner, Pope & Talbot, which went bankrupt in 2007. PricewaterhouseCoopers was given the licenses in 2008 when it was appointed as the mill’s receiver. That same year, a company named Worthington Mackenzie purchased the mill, but according to CNSC documents, never applied for the licences.

The province took over the Mackenzie mill in January 2009, after workers, who hadn’t been paid in weeks, threatened to walk off the job, raising the risks of tanks freezing and cracking, potentially leading to a toxic spill.

According to an article in the Globe and Mail, the province’s lawyers argued the deadline extension was necessary for the community, as it is unlikely Worthington Mackenzie will operate the mill.

“If the nuclear devices are pulled out and handed over to another permit holder or licence holder…we will not be in a position necessarily to continue the operation of the mill,” Pierre Landry, a lawyer representing the province, was quoted in the article as saying. “And if we’re not in a position to ensure the operation of the mill, being the fact that it’s a small community…people will be starting to move and trying to go elsewhere.”


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