OSART missions: Continuous learning advances nuclear safety in Canada and around the world

As Canada’s nuclear regulator, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) takes pride in ensuring that nuclear power plant (NPP) operations are conducted safely and efficiently. To achieve a high level of excellence, the CNSC cooperates with many partners, including nuclear facility operators, law enforcement organizations, governments and intelligence agencies – to name a few. One of the CNSC’s close partners is the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) , which conducts safety inspections at various nuclear facilities in Canada and ensures that power plant operators are applying the industry’s best practices.

In 1982, the IAEA introduced the Operational Safety Review Team (OSART) program to its wide array of services. Under OSART, international teams of nuclear experts conduct in-depth, three-week reviews of operational safety performance at individual NPPs. These reviews are conducted at the request of the host nation’s government.

Continuously improving operational safety at nuclear power plants worldwide

The OSART program allows NPP operators around the world to exchange information on best international practices. Its main purpose is to help IAEA Member States improve the operational safety of specific NPPs and to promote the continuous development of operational safety in all Member States. OSART missions consist of peer reviews by experts with extensive knowledge in the areas that they review. The scope of an OSART review, which is determined between the IAEA and the host organization, can draw on 15 areas – ranging from training and qualification to emergency preparedness.

Throughout its 30-year history, the OSART program has developed a series of visits that make up a mission. The process starts with a preparatory meeting and a seminar on field inspection techniques a year before the mission itself. Once these steps are completed, the OSART mission itself starts and is then ensued by a follow-up visit, typically around 18 months later. The OSART program consists of various types of missions; their scope and depth are decided during the preparatory meeting and can be adjusted to the desires of the host country and the plant’s greatest needs. Review teams are also responsible for carrying out specific reviews of safety culture at each plant visited.

Transparency and accountability are vital components of the CNSC’s work. Likewise, the OSART program is designed to promote these attributes. Its review process is based on strict guidelines derived from IAEA safety standards, which are completely accessible to the public. Many countries, including Canada, NPP operators and regulators publish OSART reports on their Web sites to ensure transparency to the public.

OSART missions confirm safe operations and good practices at Bruce and Pickering

Since OSART’s creation, almost 200 missions have been successfully completed around the world. In Canada, two missions were recently conducted at the Bruce B Nuclear Generating Station and the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station in 2015 and 2016, respectively.

The main purpose of the mission conducted in late 2015 at the Bruce B Nuclear Generating Station was to review operating practices in several areas that included safety management, training, maintenance, technical support and radiation protection. The OSART team’s conclusions were based on the plant’s performance in comparison with IAEA safety standards. Overall, the OSART report identified 10 good practices and 25 good performances, and made 12 suggestions and 5 recommendations.

More recently, Ontario Power Generation concluded an OSART mission at the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station in October 2016. The team found that the facility has made good progress in a number of operational safety areas, for example by installing severe accident simulation software. The team also proposed further safety enhancements, including measures to ensure proper maintenance of safety-relevant equipment. The team has provided a draft of the report to Pickering Nuclear Generating Station’s management and the CNSC. The final report was made public on May 24, 2017.

All Canadian NPPs, including Bruce B and Pickering, are meeting current regulatory requirements. The OSART mission reports’ suggestions are considered as continuous improvements to existing safe practices. To learn more, visit the following webpages:

Refining and improving the OSART program to stay abreast of best practices

As OSART’s creator, the IAEA keeps a close watch on the program through its Operational Safety Services team – to make OSART even more effective by incorporating new features and practices while eliminating outdated ones. After each mission is completed, the OSART team will provide feedback on the process and make suggestions for improvement, and NPPs and utilities do the same. IAEA technical meetings and discussions with industry experts are held to collect these suggestions, which are used to revise OSART guidelines that reflect industry-wide progress in nuclear safety. By using this information to update IAEA safety standards, the OSART program helps to promote the universal acceptance of IAEA safety standards.

The CNSC will continue to cooperate with partners in support of OSART

As Canada’s nuclear regulator, the CSNC strongly supports OSART’s aims and objectives. It will keep working closely with licensees and international partners to ensure that Canada’s NPPs and facilities around the world are safe and secure. By continually evaluating, reviewing, and applying best practices, the CNSC assures Canadians that it will never compromise safety.

contributors of the OSART mission
Tremendous effort and many contributors are needed to complete an OSART mission.
OSART Team and IAEA representatives
Bruce Power staff with the OSART team made up of IAEA staff and experts from Finland, France, Hungary, India, Romania, Slovakia, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The Bruce OSART team had approximately 380 years of collective nuclear power experience.