Auditor General of Canada Reports
Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission's Response to the February 2005 Report of the Office of the Auditor General
Chapter 6: Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission - Power Reactor Regulation
February 15, 2005
The February 2005 Report of the Office of the Auditor General of Canada (OAG) reports on the findings of a follow-up audit conducted by the OAG in 2003-2004. This follow-up audit assessed the progress the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) has made since a previous audit of the CNSC's activities related to the licensing and regulation of nuclear power reactors, conducted by the OAG in December 2000.
The February 2001 Report of the Office of the Auditor General of Canada included a chapter on its December 2000 value for money audit of the CNSC. It recommended areas where the CNSC needed to improve its regulatory regime for power reactors to ensure that it continued to protect the health and safety of Canadians. The CNSC has embarked on an ambitious improvement program in all regulatory areas to improve it policies and programs. This improvement program also addresses recommendations made by the OAG. The CNSC has proactively reported on its progress annually and will continue to be transparent in its operations.
The 2005 report indicates that, overall, the CNSC has succeeded in implementing improvements in response to the recommendations made by the OAG following the December 2000 audit. The CNSC welcomes the OAG's 2005 report and believes its findings are consistent with the CNSC's pursuit of continuous improvement.
The Auditor General's Report reads: "The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission has responded to our observations and informs us that it is continuing with the improvements it began in response to the December 2000 recommendations. Overall, the CNSC has made satisfactory progress in response to our recommendations from our December 2000 audit of power reactor regulation."
Among the improvements noted by the OAG are:
- Progress in implementing a consistent approach to compliance and enforcement
- The development of a new scale for rating the performance of power reactor licensees and that the CNSC has committed to improving the consistency of ratings, and communicating their basis more effectively to licensees, along with measures by which licensees can improve their ratings
- The issuance of key regulatory documents and the implementation of a process for prioritizing the development of regulatory policies, standards and guides
- Progress in addressing the human resources issues of capacity, recruitment and retention of capable staff, and clarification of roles and responsibilities
- Clarification of the roles of President and Chief Executive Officer
The OAG also notes that progress has been slower than planned in the development of a formal, well-articulated risk-management approach to power reactor regulation. However, it noted that such an approach has been adopted for the regulation of nuclear substances and uranium mining and processing. Progress in implementing a more systematic risk-informed approach for the regulation of power reactors is ongoing and continues as part of the Power Reactor Regulation Improvement Program, announced in early 2004.
The CNSC recognizes that there is room for further improvement and remains strongly committed to ongoing improvements in all areas of regulation within the CNSC's mandate. The CNSC's plan are contained in its Report on Plans and Priorities and are reported to Parliament in its Annual Report.
The CNSC anticipates substantial changes across the nuclear cycle in the near future, including the potential for nuclear power plant refurbishment or new build, changes to the management of used nuclear fuel, increased mining of domestic uranium resources, increased use of nuclear technologies in health care, and growing international proliferation concerns. These anticipated changes in the activities and number of licensees will likely require an increase in the level of resources that the CNSC will need in order to assure Parliament and Canadians of effective regulatory oversight.
To obtain a copy of the February 2005 Report of the Office of the Auditor General of Canada, visit http://www.oag-bvg.gc.ca.
The CNSC's annual progress reports to the OAG since February 2001 can be viewed at Auditor General of Canada Reports.