A comprehensive study is a type of Environmental Assessment (EA) conducted for larger, more complex projects that have the potential for significant negative environmental effects or draw public interest and concern. A list of these kinds of projects can be found in the Comprehensive Study List Regulations. The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency offers participant funding for comprehensive studies.
Public participation opportunities are required for comprehensive studies. Under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, the public has at least three opportunities. Their first opportunity is at the beginning of the EA process when they can comment on the project and the conduct of the comprehensive study. The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) must ensure that at least one other opportunity is provided throughout the review process. The last opportunity is to review and comment on the Comprehensive Study Report (CSR).
The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency leads the public review of the CSR, reporting public concerns and comments to the Minister before he/she makes an EA decision. The Minister of Environment then issues an “Environmental Assessment Decision Statement”, which sets out:
- the Minister of Environment’s determination of whether the project is likely to cause significant negative environmental effects
- mitigation measures and/or follow-up program that the Minister of Environment considers appropriate.
If the Minister of Environment had found that the project is not likely to cause significant negative environmental effects, then the CNSC can consider the proponent’s licence application under the Nuclear Safety and Control Act.