Nuclear drug testing on hold

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Security officers and other “safety-critical” employees at the Chalk River labs and other nuclear facilities will not yet be required to take random drug tests.

A federal court judge has has granted an injunction against the new regulations until a further appeal is heard.

A collection of labour unions and individual employees – including the Power Workers’ Union, Society of United Professionals, Chalk River Nuclear Safety Officers Association, and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers – have gone to court to try to block new “fitness for duty” regulations adopted by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission.

In a ruling released in June, federal court Judge Alan Diner ruled that the new regulations “engage” but do not “infringe” the workers’ rights under Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

“The nuclear industry is unique,” Justice Diner wrote in his decision.

“All parties concur that safety is the most important priority, and that public interest in nuclear safety is high.

“A nuclear incident can have devastating and long lasting impacts on the community and the environment.

“It is within this unique context of the highly regulated nuclear industry that I find the pre-placement and random testing provisions of the (CNSC regulations) are constitutional and do not breach (the Charter of Rights).”

But in a ruling dated October 27, Justice Monica Biringer of the Federal Court of Appeal granted an injunction delaying the new regulations.

In her ruling, Biringer noted that the CNSC had intended to implement its random drug testing rules as of December 1 this year.

But Biringer noted that the workers have appealed the June decision on the basis that Justice Diner “erred in his conclusions” that the regulations did not violate their Charter rights to “security of the person,” protection against “unreasonable search and seizure,” and “equality before and under the law”…

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