Former nuclear watchdog asks court to review firing

CBC News: Fred Chartrand/Canadian Press - February 15, 2008

The former head of Canada's nuclear safety watchdog is asking for a judicial review of her abrupt firing.

Linda Keen, seen in Ottawa on Jan. 29, is asking the Federal Court to review her firing as president of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission.

Linda Keen wants the Federal Court to reinstate her as president of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, an independent regulator that oversees the country's nuclear facilities.

"By this application for judicial review, Ms. Keen is asking the Federal Court to declare that she was unlawfully removed as president, and that the November 2005 order-in-council, which appointed her as president, remains in full force and effect," Keen's lawyer, Allan O'Brien, said in a written statement issued Friday.

He said Keen's legal team will provide a number of examples of the government's violation of the principles of justice and procedural fairness in removing her from the post.

The government will not speak publicly about Keen's call for a review. "Because it's before the courts, we have no comment on this individual issue," MP David Anderson, the parliamentary secretary of natural resources, said in the House of Commons on Friday.

The federal government fired Linda Keen on Jan. 16 after she would not approve restarting the 50-year-old nuclear reactor in Chalk River, Ont., which generates two-thirds of the radioisotopes used around the world in medical procedures and tests.

The reactor had been closed since Nov. 18 because of concerns that its emergency power system was not connected to cooling pumps, as required to prevent a meltdown during disasters such as earthquakes.

The closure of the reactor prompted a worldwide shortage of the crucial medical material.

Natural Resources Minister Gary Lunn said Keen lost the government's confidence in her handling of the crisis, accusing her of a "lack of leadership."

In December, the government brought in emergency legislation to override Keen's decisions, and Parliament ordered the facility to reopen.

The Chalk River reactor is run by Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd, a Crown corporation.

Files from the Canadian Press;


Risk of restarting nuclear reactor too high:

Keen Nuclear safety watchdog head fired for 'lack of leadership':

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