CNSC’s address at the “Enhancing Nuclear Safety Worldwide – Actions taken by exporting and hosting countries” side event during the 60th IAEA General Conference in Vienna, Austria

From September 26 to 30, 2016, the International Atomic Energy Agency held its 60th General Conference in Vienna, Austria. A delegation from representatives from Canada was led by Ms. Kim Rudd, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources. As the head of Canada’s Delegation, MP Rudd gave a speech that highlighted Canada’s commitment to peaceful uses of nuclear technology and the role of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) in ensuring nuclear safety. Canadian delegation members included the CNSC’s Ramzi Jammal, Vice-President and Chief Regulatory Operations Officer, and Jason Cameron, Vice-President of Regulatory Affairs and Chief Communications Officer, as well as representatives from other government agencies and MP Cheryl Gallant.

Opening remarks for: Jason Cameron

Vice-President of Regulatory Affairs and Chief Communications Officer

Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission

“Enhancing Nuclear Safety Worldwide – Actions taken by exporting and hosting countries” during the IAEA 60th General Conference held in Vienna, Austria

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

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Members of the Canadian delegation at the 60th IAEA General Conference in Vienna, Austria, led by Ms. Kim Rudd, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources.

Thank you Mr. Chairman and good afternoon everyone.

It is my pleasure to have the opportunity to speak to you today on behalf of both the Government of Canada, and specifically my organization – the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, on my country’s experience in nuclear safety, and specifically the exporting of nuclear technology for safe and peaceful uses.

I am also proud to recognize the presence of the Head of the Canadian Delegation to the IAEA General Conference, the Parliamentary Secretary to Natural Resources, Kim Rudd, and other members of the Canadian delegation including members from nuclear power operators in Canada.

Canada’s history with nuclear technology and its export can be traced back to our involvement with the Manhattan Project during the Second World War. After the war, Canada was the first country with a significant nuclear capability to reject the development of nuclear weapons and has since been actively involved in promoting the peaceful use of nuclear energy around the world.

In 1946, the Government established the Atomic Energy Control Board as a regulatory agency to provide “control and supervision of the development, application, and use of atomic energy and to enable Canada to participate effectively in measures of international control.”

Our national nuclear regulator became the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission in 2000, and is celebrating 70 years of nuclear safety regulation this year. The CNSC regulates the use of nuclear energy and materials to protect health, safety, security and the environment; implements Canada's international commitments on the peaceful use of nuclear energy; and disseminates objective scientific, technical and regulatory information to the public. We regulate all nuclear-related facilities and activities in Canada – from uranium mines and mills to waste management facilities – or as we like to say, “from cradle to grave.”

From left to right: Ramzi Jammal, CNSC Vice-President and Chief Regulatory Operations Officer, Ms. Kim Rudd, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources, and Jason Cameron, CNSC Vice-President of Regulatory Affairs and Chief Communications Officer.

As many of you know, starting in the 1950s, Canada developed the pressurized heavy water CANDU reactor for the generation of electrical power. As the design matured and strengthened through the 1970s and 1980s, Canada sought opportunities to export the technology abroad.

The export of the CANDU technology always starts with a Nuclear Cooperation Agreement, but requires on-going collaboration between industry, regulators and governments. Canada has built strong relationships with our partners in China, South Korea, India, Argentina, and Romania.

Across the world, CANDU reactors have operated safely for over 700 reactor years across 34 reactors in seven countries. But cooperation cannot end when the power starts.

In fact, exporting technology requires a lasting commitment to ‎sharing operational and safety experience. This is why Canada has helped to establish entities like the CANDU Owners Group and the CANDU Senior Regulators Forum. Regular meetings of these organizations demonstrate the participant’s strong commitment to the technology and the principle of safety.

Canada believes that a commitment to international nuclear safety requires leading by example.

Every day, Canadian operators of nuclear power plants and major nuclear facilities help contribute to safe, reliable, emissions free and clean electricity generation in Canada.

And the Government of Canada places the highest priority on nuclear safety and protecting the environment.

In response to the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, the CNSC launched a Fukushima Task Force to review safety at all our major nuclear facilities in order confirm that they were able to withstand and respond to credible external events.

We developed an action plan to strengthen defence-in-depth, enhance emergency response, improve the regulatory framework and enhance international collaboration. The implementation of these actions has strengthened nuclear safety in Canada and aligns with global efforts.

One of the lessons that Fukushima reminded us is that a major nuclear accident anywhere is an accident everywhere, and that there is collective responsibility for nuclear safety.

The international framework – which includes organizations (like the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Nuclear Energy Agency), conventions (such as Convention on Nuclear Safety and Joint Convention), and Member States (including industry, regulators and public stakeholders) – have tried to learn from and adapt all of the lessons from Fukushima.

But Canada strongly believes that the international community can only assure itself of a country’s commitment to nuclear safety if there is accountability and transparency.

Ms. Kim Rudd, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources with IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano.

These concepts can be achieved through the IAEA’s peer review missions, participation in the Review Meetings of the two major safety conventions, and cooperation with other nuclear regulators.

Deficiencies must be identified and addressed and best practices shared and adapted.

This is why I am proud that Ramzi Jammal of the CNSC is chairing the next Review Meeting of the Convention on Nuclear Safety – he is committed to full participation in the Convention process and to ensuring a full review of lessons learned implementation post-Fukushima at the meeting in the spring of 2017. 

Returning back to Vienna, the IAEA’s Secretariat and Member States also have an important role to play in nuclear safety.

The representatives from the various delegations engaged in the General Conference this week all share the collective goal of the safe and peaceful use of nuclear power in countries who choose nuclear as part of its energy mix.

As we’ve heard from delegations this week, for countries who have chosen the technology, nuclear power is considered a key component in their commitment to meet the global challenge of climate change.

But from a regulator’s perspective, when a Member State takes the decisions to develop, build, export or host nuclear power, it must be made within the context of safety. Nuclear safety is the first step in the acquisition of nuclear capability and it cannot be accomplished in a vacuum.

The IAEA’s General Conference is just one of the many forums to discuss the actions taken to enhance nuclear safety worldwide, share experiences and look to the challenges of the future.

The Government of Canada and its nuclear regulator remain committed to these values, both at home, or abroad.

Thank you.