Working internationally to improve nuclear safety and security
Every day, millions of Canadians benefit from nuclear energy generated by nuclear power plants (NPPs). As Canada’s nuclear regulator, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) has several responsibilities to ensure that these NPPs are safe and secure.
The CNSC fulfills its security duties in a number of ways, including cooperating with nuclear facility operators, law enforcement and intelligence agencies, and other governments. It also receives advice and assistance and participates in peer reviews from all over the world, including International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspections. By working closely with the IAEA, nuclear power plant operators can confirm that they are applying the best safety and security practices. To this end, the IAEA has recently performed many safety inspections at some of Canada’s nuclear facilities.
Collaboration with International Partners
The CNSC participates in various IAEA committees and groups of the IAEA and the Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA), as well as international meetings to ensure the safe, secure and peaceful use of nuclear materials and technology.
Membership and participation in these organizations’ activities allows the CNSC to contribute to and stay abreast of current guidance, policies and technical standards. The CNSC’s membership and participation in international activities also ensure that the CNSC’s regulatory activities are consistent, as appropriate, with internationally agreed upon best practices and principles.
In 2005, the CNSC initiated an Integrated Regulatory Review Service (IRRS) mission to review its regulatory regime and processes. The review was performed by an international team of experts selected by the IAEA, and three reports were prepared: the IRRS 2009 peer review report and CNSC management response, the IRRS Follow-up Mission to Canada Report and the CNSC Management Response to the 2011 IRRS Follow-up Mission Report. All actions items resulting from the IRRS peer reviews are now closed.
On May 13, 2016, one of these inspection reports was made publicly available. A mission conducted by the IAEA’s Operational Safety Review Team (OSART) at the Bruce B Nuclear Generating Station took place from November 30 to December 17, 2015 at the request of the CNSC and the Government of Canada. Composed of a range of experts from different countries, the OSART team conducted this mission to review operating practices across a wide range of areas including training, maintenance, emergency preparedness, and many other important capacities. These missions help provide opportunities for NPP operators to benefit from information on the industry’s best practices and to broaden their experience and knowledge.
The CNSC Integrated Action Plan on the Lessons Learned from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Accident called for the IAEA to conduct OSART missions at all Canadian NPPs, starting in 2015.
Similarly, a team of 10 experts from 9 nations and the IAEA completed an International Physical Protection Advisory Service (IPPAS) mission to review national nuclear security practices in Canada during October 2015. The mission examined Canada’s nuclear security-related legislative and regulatory regime for nuclear material and nuclear facilities, as well as the security arrangements applied to the transport of nuclear material, the security of radioactive material and associated facilities and activities, and the information and computer security systems in place. The team also visited several sites, where they reviewed physical protection systems. Sites visited included the Bruce Nuclear Generating Station, Ontario Power Generation’s Western Waste Management Facility, Nordion’s nuclear substance processing facility and the McMaster Nuclear Research Reactor.
Findings Confirm Safety and Security
In both cases, the IAEA teams found that nuclear facilities in Canada are safely and securely operated. In its report, the OSART outlined areas of strong performance at the Bruce B facility, such as the development of an effective overall technical strategy to manage reactor safety and the use of a wide range of engaging training settings to provide employees with learning and development opportunities. In total, the OSART report identifies 10 good practices, 25 good performances, 12 suggestions and 5 recommendations. A follow-up visit will be conducted 18 months after the November-December mission, and missions extending to all of Canada’s operating NPPs will be conducted in the future.
Similarly, the IPPAS team concluded that Canada conducts strong and sustainable nuclear security activities and identified a number of good practices in the national nuclear security regime. Moreover, the team stated that Canada operates a mature, effective and well-established nuclear security regime and is committed to excellence. A total of 3 recommendations and 30 suggestions were provided in the report, and 21 good practices were identified during the mission.
Setting the Standard for Nuclear Safety
These inspections and reviews not only help confirm that the inspected facilities are safely and securely operated, but they also help set benchmarks for other similar facilities. According to Bruce Power’s Pierre Pilon and James Scongack, “We all benefit from this type of feedback and would welcome the opportunity to share ideas with similar organizations.” By working with international partners, the CNSC, and its licensees alike are able to identify and share strengths as well as improve on suggestions and recommendations (read the Bruce Power OSART report).
Whether it’s through an IRRS, OSART or IPPAS mission, the CSNC works with licensees and international partners to ensure that Canada’s nuclear facilities are safe and secure. By continually evaluating, reviewing, and applying best practices, the CNSC assures Canadians that it will never compromise safety.
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