NB Power–CNSC Staff Protocol on the Application for a Licence to Prepare a Site for an ARC-100 Reactor
|Revision No.||Date revised||Section||Description of change|
|1||2023-03-08||All||Revision 0 of the document.|
|2||2023-07-04||All||Incorporation of edits from ARLD, NB Power and Legal Services|
This protocol is strictly administrative in nature. None of the statements in this protocol are to be construed or interpreted as constituting a contract, or as affecting the jurisdiction or discretionary powers of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) in its assessments of licence applications made in accordance with the Nuclear Safety and Control Act (NSCA) Footnote 1.
Nothing in this protocol fetters the powers, duties or discretion of CNSC staff or the Commission respecting regulatory decisions or regulatory action that CNSC staff or the Commission may take. Also, this protocol does not change, in any way, any applicable laws or regulations, application requirements or hearing processes as set by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission Rules of Procedure Footnote 2.
The timelines outlined in this protocol are intended to provide a transparent and reasonable outline of what the parties are expecting to accomplish, but do not, and cannot, bind CNSC staff or New Brunswick Power (NB Power) in any legally enforceable manner.
This protocol does not, in any way, affect or influence the Commission decision on NB Power’s application for a licence to prepare a site (LTPS).
Table of contents
- 1. Introduction
- 2. Roles and Responsibilities
- 3. Long Lead Items
- 4. Application Work
- 5. Revisions of the Protocol
- 6. Approval by signatories
NB Power is actively exploring the possibility of having a small modular reactor (SMR) in New Brunswick and has expressed interest in the ARC sodium-cooled fast reactor.
NB Power is working towards an LTPS application in June 2023 for a single ARC-100 unit on the Point Lepreau nuclear generating site.
A Commission decision regarding the LTPS application is required. Recognizing the importance of the project’s schedule and scope, the purpose of this document is to:
- establish a communication process (formal and informal) between NB Power and CNSC staff
- provide a framework within which CNSC staff will perform a technical assessment of the application and supporting documentation that will enable staff to make a recommendation to the Commission on NB Power’s application for an LTPS
This protocol should be followed to allow for open and transparent processes that do not fetter the discretion of the Commission.
This protocol will come into effect on the date of the last signature to this protocol. It will terminate on the date that the Commission announces its licensing decision on NB Power’s LTPS application or 30 days after a written notification by one party to the other party of an intention to terminate the protocol.
1.3 Document security
The CNSC follows the Policy on Government Security Footnote 3, Access to Information Act Footnote 4 and Privacy Act Footnote 5 for information management. It is important for NB Power to classify the submitted documents at the appropriate levels, to ensure that the appropriate CNSC staff have access to the information to perform the review and manage the information correctly; i.e., in accordance with security and access to information and privacy (ATIP) requirements.
1.4 Exchange of information
The exchange of correspondence between NB Power and CNSC staff should be effectively coordinated, managed, retained and retrievable by both participants. The following principles will be applied:
- Communication between NB Power and CNSC staff will be controlled using the single point of contact (SPOC) approach.
- The information exchanged will reflect the position of NB Power or of CNSC staff as a whole – not of the persons involved.
- NB Power and CNSC subject matter experts may communicate directly with each other to request clarification or to share information. SPOCs must be aware and involved as required.
There are 2 types of communication: formal and informal.
1.4.1. Formal communication
The purpose of formal communication is to document any official regulatory requests or positions from CNSC staff and NB Power’s official responses. All formal communication must be in writing, have a record number associated with it in the corresponding document management systems and be captured in action tracking, where appropriate. All regulatory positions or application commitments will be communicated via formal communication.
1.4.2 . Informal communication
It is a normal and accepted practice that NB Power and CNSC staff interact on a regular and informal basis. The basis of this communication is normally to clarify technical points that may relate to administrative, licensing or compliance issues.
2. Roles and responsibilities
The parties to this protocol have the following roles and responsibilities:
- The CNSC has regulatory and statutory responsibilities under the NSCA Footnote 1 and its regulations. CNSC staff are responsible for assessing NB Power’s LTPS application and making a recommendation to the Commission.
- NB Power is the applicant and is responsible for submitting adequate and complete information to support the licence application as per regulatory requirements.
For the purposes of this protocol, the CNSC staff will be represented by the following representatives:
- Senior Project Officer, Advanced Reactor Licensing Division (SPOC)
- Director of the Advanced Reactor Licensing Division
For the purposes of the protocol, NB Power will be represented by the following representatives:
- Licensing Manager, Advanced Reactor Development, NB Power (SPOC)
- Director of Advanced Reactor Development, NB Power
CNSC staff and NB Power will identify an alternate if one of the above representatives is unavailable.
3. Long-lead Items
The term “long-lead items”, as a concept, refers to equipment, products and systems that are identified at the earliest stage of a project as having a delivery time long enough to directly affect the overall lead time of the project. Long-lead items may include technical or regulatory reviews of structures, systems, components, programs and/or processes. Upon request, CNSC staff will review NB Power submissions for long-lead items and provide a technical review, including identifying potential barriers to licensing, or providing concurrence on NB Power’s methodology and/or approach. This may include site visits and verification activities. It is understood that CNSC staff positions on such items do not and cannot, in any way, bind Commission decisions, and that procurement of such items is entirely at the business risk of NB Power. The authority to approve or accept long-lead items for licensing purposes lies with the Commission as part of its decision-making processes.
4. Application work
CNSC staff will review the application for an LTPS in accordance with REGDOC-1.1.1, Site Evaluation and Site Preparation for New Reactor Facilities (2022) Footnote 6. Further review criteria are captured in CNSC regulatory and guidance documents and in industry codes and standards applicable to an LTPS.
4.1 Project schedule
NB Power will provide CNSC staff with a project schedule that provides an overview of the completion of the project, as well as more detailed schedules on components of the project or information that will be required to enable, or are tied to, the accomplishment of scheduled activities.
NB Power will update the schedule regularly and will notify CNSC staff of any significant changes in the schedule.
4.2 Application review time
CNSC staff’s review process will begin when NB Power submits its initial application for an LTPS in June 2023. CNSC staff will endeavour to support an efficient licensing process, with an anticipated CNSC staff review time of 24 months, as required by the Class I Nuclear Facilities Regulations and described in REGDOC-3.5.1, Information Dissemination: Licensing Process for Class I Nuclear Facilities and Uranium Mines and Mills (2022) Footnote 7. This timeline includes the application review, preparation of the Commission member document and the hearing process.
The 24-month review period begins after a complete application has been submitted. Section 8.3 of the Class I Nuclear Facilities Regulations sets out circumstances that are excluded from the 24-month review period. For example, the 24-month timeline assumes that the information submitted by NB Power is sufficiently complete and detailed to allow the regulatory safety assessment and licensing process to proceed efficiently. Upon receiving technical information submitted by NB Power under this protocol, CNSC staff will perform a conformity review to identify any obvious omissions or deficiencies. If there are omissions, CNSC staff will send an information request (IR) to NB Power to obtain the information. The IR triggers a clock stop; the clock resumes when NB Power has submitted adequate information to address all outstanding IRs. Regulatory reviews in technical areas not impacted by IRs may continue during this time. CNSC staff also will not compromise on timelines for engagement and consultation with the public and Indigenous groups.
In circumstances where the review timelines may be delayed:
- Each party (NB Power or CNSC staff) will communicate review timeline delays to each other as soon as they are reasonably able to
- CNSC staff will continue reviewing material in other parts of the licence application package where possible
- NB Power and CNSC staff will provide updated estimated timelines for the completion of applicable work and resolutions
4.3 Submission schedule
CNSC staff’s assessment consists of a technical review of the application NB Power will provide on June 30, 2023. NB Power has committed to providing a complete application except for the following gaps in information:
REGDOC-1.1.1 section 3.3.5, Population and emergency planning considerations
- NB Power intends to undertake further assessment of the emergency planning zone requirements and submit those results by Q4 of 2023.
REGDOC-1.1.1 section F.2.2.2, Calculation of accident consequences
- NB Power intends to complete initial dispersion modelling and submit results by Q4 of 2023.
NB Power will notify CNSC staff as early as possible if slippages occur in the schedule of submissions. CNSC staff will attempt to accommodate slippages to the extent practicable.
4.4 Results of the technical review
During the technical review, CNSC staff will issue an IR if it is determined that there is insufficient information available to complete the review. NB Power has committed to providing responses to information requests within 40 business days. CNSC staff has committed to providing a response on the sufficiency of NB Power’s response within 20 business days. Any NB Power delay in responding to information requests may result in delayed timelines. Upon completion of the detailed technical reviews to satisfy each safety and control area, CNSC staff will confirm the closure of any information requests. Once IRs are closed and finalized, the document title will be made available on the CNSC Open Governmental Portal.
4.5 Issue resolution
CNSC staff will review the LTPS application submitted by NB Power to make licensing recommendations to the Commission. Disagreements between NB Power and CNSC staff raised during the review, including differences of opinion or interpretation and application of regulatory documents, will be addressed under this issue resolution mechanism.
Nothing in this issue resolution mechanism seeks to bind, or has the effect of binding, the Commission, the substance of CNSC staff’s recommendation to the Commission or the results of CNSC staff’s technical assessments. It is an administrative process for managing disagreements.
Step 1: Identification of the issue and resolution at the project manager/working level
- Periodic NB Power and CNSC licensing or technical review meetings will be held to review progress on the key activities and highlight any potential major issues. Minimum attendance at these review meetings will be the licensing SPOCs for CNSC staff and NB Power but may include technical staff.
- It is the intention of both participants to resolve issues at this level.
- If an issue cannot be resolved at this level, it will be documented (typically, a brief factual summary of the issue and a paragraph representing the view of each organization) within one week of the indecision and forwarded to the CNSC Director and the NB Power Manager identified in step 2.
Step 2: Resolution at the director/ manager level
- A step 1 issue, once documented, will be provided to the CNSC Director of the Advanced Reactor Licensing Division and NB Power’s Licensing Manager, Advanced Reactor Development Team.
- A meeting will be called, normally within 7 business days, to resolve the issue, and the resolution will be documented.
- Issues that cannot be resolved at this level will be referred to the executive level (step 3) within 10 business days, supported by the original or revised documentation from step 1 and any additional documentation from step 2.
Step 3: Resolution at the executive level
- A step 2 issue with documentation will be sent to the CNSC Director General, Directorate of Advanced Reactor Technologies and NB Power Director of Advanced Reactor Development.
- A meeting will be called, normally within 30 business days, to resolve the issue and the resolution will be documented.
- In exceptional circumstances, the CNSC Executive Vice-President & Chief Regulatory Operations Officer and the NB Power Vice-President Nuclear will resolve issues that remain outstanding.
- If the issue cannot be resolved at the CNSC staff level, the issue will be presented to the Commission for decision as part of the licensing process.
4.6 Interfacing with other jurisdictions
NB Power and CNSC staff will identify areas of coordination with various jurisdictions at the federal, provincial and municipal levels. Where possible, CNSC staff will provide a single-window approach to coordination of review efforts in their role as the regulator.
The CNSC acknowledges that a provincial environmental impact assessment (EIA) will be conducted under the Government of New Brunswick’s comprehensive EIA review process, with technical support from the CNSC. The provincial EIA registration is planned to coincide with the LTPS application to the CNSC.
4.7 Project communications
Weekly meetings will be held between NB Power and CNSC SPOCs and appropriate technical staff to discuss the review progress and highlight any potential major issues.
On a quarterly basis or more frequently, meetings will be held between the NB Power and CNSC managers listed in section 2 of this protocol and appropriate staff to discuss the overall progress for the project and any issues as required.
5. Revisions of the protocol
Significant material revisions of this protocol will be coordinated by the managers and approved by the signatories of this protocol. The NB Power Licensing Manager and CNSC SPOC, managers listed in section 2 of this protocol, can approve minor revisions (e.g., editorial corrections, clarification of text or updates to organizational structure) to this protocol. All revisions will be done in writing.
6. Approval by signatories
The participants hereto have signed the protocol, in counterpart, on the dates indicated below.
Executive Vice-President and Chief Regulatory Operations Officer
Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission
- Footnote 1
Government of Canada, Nuclear Safety and Control Act.
- Footnote 2
Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission Rules of Procedure, SOR/2000-211.
- Footnote 3
Government of Canada, Policy on Government Security.
- Footnote 4
Government of Canada, Access to Information Act.
- Footnote 5
Government of Canada, Privacy Act.
- Footnote 6
Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, REGDOC-1.1.1, Site Evaluation and Site Preparation for New Reactor Facilities, 2022.
- Footnote 7
Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, REGDOC-3.5.1, Information Dissemination: Licensing Process for Class I Nuclear Facilities and Uranium Mines and Mills, 2022.
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