Sharing our expertise with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission: Signing of a memorandum of cooperation to strengthen regulation of nuclear safety
On August 15, 2019, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) and the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission (U.S. NRC), two of the world’s leading nuclear regulators, met to discuss increasing regulatory effectiveness through collaboration on the technical reviews of advanced reactor and small modular reactor (SMR) technologies.
During the official signing ceremony in Ottawa, Ontario, CNSC President Rumina Velshi and U.S. NRC Chairman Kristine Svinicki signed a memorandum of cooperation (MOC) aimed at enhancing technical reviews of advanced reactor and SMR technologies.
In her address, President Velshi spoke about her priority of global influence and the CNSC’s commitment to engaging in international cooperation activities that foster relationships, strengthen frameworks and share best practices to improve nuclear safety: ”Globally, interest and advances in small modular and advanced reactors are growing rapidly. The CNSC and the U.S. NRC are working together as regulatory leaders to ensure the development and deployment of these innovative technologies are done safely and efficiently,” she stated.
”The signing of this memorandum further strengthens our long-standing history of collaboration with our U.S. counterparts and ensures the effectiveness and efficiency of our regulatory oversight for the future,” she added.
Chairman Svinicki stated the following: ”Today’s signing of this memorandum further shapes our commitment to open and transformative thinking with our Canadian partners, enhancing our willingness to work together on matters of advanced nuclear power safety developments while increasing regulatory effectiveness. Advanced technologies are emerging at a rapid pace, demanding that regulators keep in step with modernization initiatives and the technologies of the future.”
The joint memorandum entails that both regulators will ensure safe, efficient development and deployment of these technologies – both now and in the future. Both leaders publicly discussed this initiative in June 2019 at the International Economic Forum of the Americas’ Conference of Montreal. Developing and signing the MOC was the next step in moving this concept from exploration to implementation.
Regulations under the Canadian Nuclear Safety and Control Act are already in place for regulating activities involving the use of advanced reactor and SMR technologies. However, these designs incorporate innovative aspects that will need to be supported by applicants and reactor vendors with sound scientific and technical evidence, in order to meet regulatory requirements. This MOC allows the CNSC to take U.S. NRC review results into account, should an applicant propose to construct and operate a reactor design currently under review or previously reviewed by the U.S. NRC. In turn, the U.S. NRC may consider insights from CNSC pre-licensing vendor design reviews and licensing review processes.
This cooperation acknowledges differences in Canadian and U.S. regulatory frameworks and licensing processes while leveraging fundamental scientific and engineering findings from other reviews to the extent practicable.
As Canada’s nuclear regulator, the CNSC will continue to ensure its readiness to regulate SMRs and advanced reactor technologies.
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