Nuclear Safety Means: Being Prepared for an Emergency

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Nuclear Safety Means: Being Prepared for an Emergency

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Nuclear Safety Means: Being Prepared for an Emergency

We Will Never Compromise Safety

As Canada’s nuclear regulator, the CNSC's role is to confirm that appropriate actions are taken to limit the risk to health, safety, security and the environment.

The CNSC regularly tests and evaluates the capability of its Emergency Operation Center (EOC) to respond to an accident through drills and large scale exercises.

Terry Jamieson, Vice President,
Technical Assessment at the CNSC
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Nuclear Safety Means: Being Prepared for an Emergency

Meet Our Technical Specialists

In the unlikely event of a nuclear emergency, the CNSC would activate its Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) in Ottawa. This facility would function 24 hours a day and be staffed with a number of teams, including a team of technical specialists.

Meet some of the technical specialists who would monitor the accident and provide an independent assessment of the situation.

Nuclear Safety Means: Being Prepared for an Emergency

Meet Chris Cole — Section Chief

His Role

Involved right from the beginning of the EOC activation, Chris is in charge of the overall direction of a team of specialists in multiple fields, such as nuclear engineering, reactor physics and radiation protection.

His team assesses the progression of the accident, calculates the amount of radioactivity that could be released and its dispersion into the environment, and evaluates potential dose for emergency workers, plant staff and members of the public.

As Section Chief, he works closely with the director of the EOC and provides technical recommendations to guide the actions of the CNSC and its communications. Along with these duties, he remains in close contact with many international organizations (such as the International Atomic Energy Agency and the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission).

Q What’s most rewarding about your role in the EOC?

Working with a team of highly trained and dedicated individuals is a very interesting and enriching experience – we learn a lot from each other.

Our work has a direct impact on the decisions being made and the information being communicated to the public.

Nuclear Safety Means: Being Prepared for an Emergency

Meet Salah Djeffal — Technical Information Officer

His Role

Salah is in charge of receiving and organizing all incoming and outgoing information for the Technical Assessment Section.

He maintains an up-to-date incident board, with the latest information displayed for all team members to view and follow.

Sharing critical data he acquires with the rest of the section, he also prepares detailed reports for the EOC director and technical summaries for the rest of the federal government agencies involved in the response.

Q What’s most difficult about your role?

During an emergency, ensuring the flow and clarity of information is my main focus. This can be a very challenging task when information is coming quickly from different sources.

Nuclear Safety Means: Being Prepared for an Emergency

Meet Quanmin Lei — Accident Progression Specialist

His Role

Quanmin is the "what-is-going-on-at-the-facility" person for the Technical Assessment Section. His goal is to provide technical input to the Section Chief for any advance planning.

He and his team focus on "the next 72 hours" and predicting the occurrence of various key accident stages – such as fuel uncovering, or breach of containment.

To do so, he must determine the anticipated sequence of events and operator actions, using plant data, his expert knowledge of severe accident progression, and several key tools.

Quanmin assists in the assessment of the INES level of the accident (an international magnitude rating for nuclear or radiological events).

Q What key tools do you use in your role?

I must be conversant and cognizant in each nuclear power plant’s emergency operation procedures, safety analyses and severe accident guidelines, as well as the CNSC’s Severe Accident Handbook.

I also use a severe accident progression and consequence analysis computer software for CANDU reactors, called MAAP4-CANDU GRAPE.

Nuclear Safety Means: Being Prepared for an Emergency

Meet Peter Devitt — Source Term Specialist

His Role

Peter determines the type and quantity of fission products – also called "source term" – that could be released into the containment and the environment.

This value is then used by the dispersion and dose specialists for predicting radiological consequences.

He uses software specifically tailored to predict releases for accidents at CANDU nuclear power plants.

Q What are the main radioactive elements of concerns during a nuclear emergency?

There are many different radioisotopes present in nuclear reactors that could be released in the event of an accident. We track many of them and pay particular attention to those with known health effects such as radioiodine, Cesium-137 and tritium.

Nuclear Safety Means: Being Prepared for an Emergency

Meet Gaetan Latouche, Nana Kwamena and Elias Dagher — Dispersion Specialists

Their Role

Gaetan, Nana, and Elias assess the atmospheric dispersion and geographical distribution/path of the plume and calculate doses to the public.

They use source term information and meteorological data to conduct their assessment.

The plume modelling information is then used to ascertain doses to the public, which is assessed by dose specialists.

Q How is weather information used in your job?

We use real-time weather information to predict not only the direction of the radioactive plume, but also the potential doses that would be received by members of the public.

Nuclear Safety Means: Being Prepared for an Emergency

Meet Bertrand Theriault — Dose Specialist

His Role

Bertrand verifies that the dose to the public and workers are determined in a way that is consistent with regulatory requirements and based on the most up-to-date international recommendations.

During a radiological or nuclear emergency, he provides advice on effective protective measures and confirms that the public protection actions taken by health authorities are adequate. Protective measure may include sheltering, evacuation and the distribution of potassium iodide pills.

Q What should people living near nuclear power plants do in the case of an emergency?

During a nuclear emergency, people living near the impacted nuclear facility should GO inside their homes, LISTEN to the radio or television or monitor the internet, and FOLLOW the directions provided by authorities.

People should avoid calling 911, limit phone calls (so that phone lines are free for emergency responders) and avoid rushing to evacuate – the safest place is often your home or workplace.

Potassium Iodide

Potassium Iodide symbol

Potassium iodide, often referred to by its chemical symbol KI, can be used to protect the thyroid gland from radioactive iodine that may be released into the air during a radiological emergency. Learn More

Nuclear Safety Means: Being Prepared for an Emergency

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