Canada's Response to Fukushima

Updated October 10, 2013

On March 11, 2011, a magnitude 9.0 earthquake struck off the coast of Japan and caused a large tsunami, resulting in the loss of thousands of lives and half a million homes. It also caused an accident at TEPCO's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

Since then, the CNSC has established a robust Action Plan to ensure that the lessons learned from the Fukushima accident are used here in Canada to enhance the safety of our nuclear facilities.

Fukushima

The CNSC continues to monitor the events in Japan, and remains alert to any activities that may impact nuclear safety. Information is also available through the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Japan's Nuclear Regulatory Authority.

CNSC Integrated Action Plan

Shortly after the accident, the CNSC launched a review of all major nuclear facilities in Canada.

The review, led by a multidisciplinary CNSC Task Force, confirmed the facilities' ability to withstand and respond to credible external events, such as earthquakes.

In response to Task Force recommendations and following extensive consultation activities, the CNSC established an action plan to further strengthen the safety of nuclear power plants and other major nuclear facilities.

The Action Plan also includes measures to enhance communication and public education.

CNSC Integrated Action Plan
View PDF version of CNSC Integrated Action Plan On the Lessons Learned From the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Accident

Actions related to both nuclear power plants and other major facilities are segmented in four categories:

  • strengthening defence in depth
  • enhancing emergency response
  • improving the regulatory framework and processes
  • enhancing international collaboration

Both the Task Force Report and the Action Plan were subject to several rounds of public consultation, as well as two independent evaluations, which confirmed that the CNSC response to the events in Fukushima was prompt, appropriate and comprehensive.

Internationally, CNSC staff have taken a leadership role among their peers.

In addition to active participation in forums to share lessons learned, they have supported frank exchanges of information and greater transparency within the international nuclear community.

Action Plan implementation phases

The Action Plan is being implemented in three phases based on management direction and public consultation:

  • Short term (12 months) – for all actions that could be accelerated – these actions were completed by December 2012
  • Medium term (24 months) – for all measures requiring further analysis and engineering design, or regulatory development – to be completed by December 2013
  • Long term (48 months) – for all actions initiated in the previous periods that will require station retrofits and/or prolonged outages – to be completed by December 2015

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Timeline of Events and Actions Taken

Date Events
Mar 11, 2011 A magnitude 9.0 earthquake near Japan generates an estimated 15-metre tsunami at TEPCO's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, leading to an accident at the plant.
Mar 11, 2011 The CNSC activates its Emergency Operations Centre.
Mar 17, 2011 The CNSC issues a directive to all major Canadian nuclear facilities requiring them to review initial lessons learned, re-examine their safety cases, and report on how they are addressing any gaps.
Mar 22, 2011 The CNSC issues a similar directive to all uranium mines and mills, and other important nuclear facilities, such as those hosting small research reactors.
Apr 19, 2011 The CNSC announces the creation of a multidisciplinary internal Task Force to evaluate the operational, technical and regulatory implications of TEPCO's nuclear accident.
July 7, 2011 The CNSC issues the safety review criteria to clarify the scope of the Canadian "stress test" for nuclear power plants.
Jul 28, 2011 All nuclear power plant operators submit reports, based on these criteria, to the CNSC. The reports detail the operators' findings and proposed plans in regard to their lessons learned from the accident in Japan, focusing on the reassessment of external hazards and beyond-design-basis accidents. OPG (PDF) Bruce Power (news release) New Brunswick Power (PDF) Hydro-Québec (not available)
Aug 5, 2011 CNSC President Michael Binder forms the External Advisory Committee to independently assess the organization's processes and responses in light of the lessons learned from Fukushima.
Oct 28, 2011 The CNSC issues the Task Force Report and Management Response for public consultation; it later integrates the comments received into the Action Plan. 
Nov 28, 2011 The IAEA conducts a review of the CNSC's response to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear event and its implications for Canadian nuclear power plants. The CNSC is the first regulator to request such a review.
Dec 21, 2011 The CNSC publishes a first draft version Action Plan on Task Force Recommendations for public consultation.
Mar 2, 2012 The CNSC integrates the comments received and publishes its second draft version of the Task Force Report, the Management Response and the Action Plan (PDF) for public consultation.
Mar 5, 2012 The IAEA publishes its report of the review conducted on Canada's response.
Apr 12, 2012 The External Advisory Committee delivers its report to CNSC President Michael Binder.
May 3, 2012 The Commission holds a public meeting to discuss the Task Force Report, the Management Response and the Action Plan (PDF). The recommendations from the External Advisory Committee, as well as input from the public, are integrated into the final CNSC Action Plan in light of the lessons learned from the accident in Japan.
August 2013 The CNSC publishes the CNSC Integrated Action Plan On the Lessons Learned From the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Accident.

Implementation status

Canadian nuclear facility operators have made significant progress in implementing the CNSC Integrated Action Plan to address lessons learned from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident.

All short-term actions, as set forth in the CNSC Integrated Action Plan, have been completed for all operating nuclear facilities.

Medium- and long-term actions are either completed or well underway.