Canada's Response to Fukushima

The Fukushima accident has taught the CNSC to require nuclear operators to consider and prepare for the most unlikely events. 

Ramzi Jammal
Executive Vice-President and Chief Regulatory Operations Officer 
Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission

More than ever before, the dialogue on nuclear safety accountability must be conducted transparently at the global level.

Jason Cameron
Chief Communications Officer
Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission

Following the event, we launched a rigorous re-examination of all our regulatory requirements and identified some key improvements that touch on a wide range of areas.

Karen Owen-Whitred
Director, Regulatory Framework
Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission

We changed rules around accident management, to require facilities to have in place additional people, procedures and tools that they need to respond to anything that can happen at their facilities.

Barclay Howden
Director General, Power Reactor Regulation
Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission

The CNSC spearheaded the mandatory pre-distribution of potassium iodide (KI) pills around nuclear power plants in Canada. This is a concrete example of a step taken to further protect the public in the unlikely event of a radioactive release.

Mike Rinker
Director General,
Environmental and Radiation Protection and Assessment

Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission 

Leaders and individuals must never be afraid of regularly challenging their own basic assumptions and their implications on actions that impact nuclear safety. This is essential to fostering a healthy safety culture.

Kathleen Heppell-Masys
Director General, Safety Management
Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission

Radiation levels were a source of concern and confusion during Fukushima. That's why we requested nuclear power plant operators to install additional radiation monitors around their facilities to provide real-time data in the unlikely event of an accident.

Luc Sigouin
Director, Emergency Management Programs
Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission

Learning from the communications challenges in Japan, we established requirements for licensees to have public information programs to ensure people have access to the information they want about facilities in their communities.

Sunni Locatelli
Director General, Strategic Communications
Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission

Emergency dose limits for workers during an emergency are being added to Canada’s Radiation Protection Regulations to bring them in line with international guidance.

Dr. Patsy Thompson
Science Advisor Technical Support Branch
Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission

Above all, the Fukushima accident taught us to expect the unexpected. And this is why we should leave no room for complacency as we continue to improve the safety of nuclear energy.

Dr. Michael Binder
Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission

Updated February 29, 2016

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

The CNSC has established a four-year Action Plan to ensure that the lessons learned from the Fukushima accident are applied in Canada to enhance the safety of our nuclear facilities.

The CNSC continues to monitor activities that may have an impact on nuclear safety 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 CNSC Task Force, confirmed that nuclear facilities in Canada are able 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.
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

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

Implementation and timeline

The Action Plan was 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 most actions were completed by December 2013. Any outstanding actions were completed in 2014.
  • Long term (48 months) – for all actions initiated in the previous periods that required station retrofits and/or prolonged maintenance outages

With the exception of one action, all Fukushima Action items are complete as per required deliverables defined in the CNSC Integrated Action Plan. The final action is expected to be completed by the end of the first quarter of 2016.

For more details on the implementation of the Action Plan, please consult the Nuclear Power Industry Safety Performance Reports, which are published annually.

CNSC Assessment of the IAEA Director General Report of the Fukushima Daiichi Accident

The purpose of the CNSC staff assessment is to benchmark the observations and action items identified in two CNSC documents – the CNSC Fukushima Task Force Report and the CNSC Integrated Action Plan on the Lessons Learned from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Accident – against the DG-IAEA Report, to ensure all elements being considered by international peers are reflected in the Canadian review scope.

VIDEO - Post-Fukushima Improvements to Nuclear Power Plants
Post-Fukushima Improvements to Nuclear Power Plants
VIDEO - Impact of Fukushima on Canada's Nuclear Regulation

Impact of Fukushima on Canada's Nuclear Regulation
ARTICLE - Improvement to Emergency Preparedness

Improvement to Emergency Preparedness

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Module – 10 post-Fukushima safety improvements in Canada

Chronology of Events and CNSC Response

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.
February 29, 2016 The CNSC publishes the CNSC Assessment of the IAEA Director General Report of the Fukushima Daiichi Accident
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