Safety of Nuclear Power Plants in Canada
March 16, 2011
- CNSC Request to all major nuclear facilities in Canada pursuant to Subsection 12(2) of the General Nuclear Safety and Control Regulations
- Quick facts
- Backgrounder on the Seismic Safety of Canadian Nuclear Power Plants
- Nuclear Power Industry Safety Performance Reports and Report Cards
The Government of Canada places the highest priority on health, safety, security and the environment in relation to all nuclear activities in Canada, and has put in place one of the most stringent regimes in the world administered by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC), Canada’s independent nuclear regulator.
The CNSC is confident about the safety of Canada’s fleet of nuclear reactors. It would like to reassure Canadians that nuclear power plants located in Canada are among the most robust designs in the world and have redundant safety systems to prevent damage in the case of an earthquake.
As a result of the Japanese nuclear incident, the CNSC is reviewing the safety cases for all of Canada’s nuclear facilities, as is normal practice when events occur in the nuclear industry.
The CNSC is actively monitoring events in Japan, and will work with its international colleagues, including the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), to identify and take into account any relevant lessons learned for implications on Canadian facilities.
This will start March 21, 2011 with the Joint Review Panel public hearings about the Environmental Assessment and site licensing of new reactors in Darlington, Ontario, and will continue with the re-licensing hearing, including refurbishment, of the Gentilly-2 facility in Bécancour, Québec, on April 13-14, 2011.
- The safety of Canada’s nuclear power plants is overseen by the CNSC, Canada’s independent nuclear regulator.
- The CNSC has inspectors located at each of Canada’s nuclear power plant sites, as well as at Chalk River Laboratories.
- Canadian reactors are a different design than those in Japan, and have several redundant safety systems, making them some of the safest reactors in the world in the event of accidents or malfunctions.
- The CNSC continuously reviews the safety of Canada’s nuclear power plants and reports publicly on its findings in an annual report and public Commission meeting.
- Nuclear power plant operators in Canada are required to update the safety cases for their facilities every three years. Every five years, a full safety review is undertaken as part of licence renewal.
- When Canadian nuclear power plants are refurbished, in-depth reviews are undertaken, including an integrated safety review, which identify any gaps with modern standards.
- In 2009, the CNSC’s regulatory system was reviewed by a team of independent experts from 19 countries, under the IAEA’s Integrated Regulatory Review Service.
- The team found that Canada has a mature and well-established nuclear regulatory framework and that the nuclear regulator does an effective job in protecting the health, safety and security of Canadians and the environment.
- The team will come to Canada in late fall 2011 to assess progress made against recommendations arising from the international review.
- Every three years, the world comes together to review best practices in nuclear safety under the Convention on Nuclear Safety. The next meeting will be held in April 2011, and the issues in Japan will no doubt be a leading topic.
Canada actively participates in international initiatives to improve the seismic safety of nuclear power plants, both existing and new. The CNSC, in partnership with the Canadian nuclear industry, plays a leadership role in the IAEA’s International Seismic Safety Centre (ISSC).
The CNSC built on lessons learned from a 2007 earthquake in Japan to improve regulatory oversight for the seismic design and post-earthquake inspections of nuclear facilities. A CNSC specialist was invited to Japan to assist in the review of lessons learned.
All Canadian nuclear power plants, existing or new, are licensed on the basis of their proven ability to withstand seismic events like earthquakes. Structures and systems have been designed to safely survive earthquakes. The CNSC ensures that all nuclear power plant licensees comply with regulatory requirements. In Canada, reactor sites are geologically screened to ensure they are constructed in a location that is seismically stable.
CANDU technology is designed to withstand earthquakes of a magnitude greater than the largest known earthquake for the region where it is being built.
Public Safety Canada maintains the Federal Emergency Response Plan and works closely with provincial and territorial emergency measures organizations to promote emergency preparedness.
The CNSC, as the Canadian nuclear regulator, is confident about the safety of Canada’s fleet of nuclear reactors regarding seismic activity.