Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) Annual Report 2007-2008

Highlight: New Nuclear Power Plants and Uranium Mines

Nuclear safety means well-managed growth

Increased global demand for energy and clean, sustainable energy sources, along with rapid expansion in nuclear medicine are driving significant growth in the nuclear sector. As Canada's nuclear regulator, CNSC is adjusting to meet these challenges and is committed to ensuring that all nuclear activity is conducted safely and securely while protecting Canadians, their health and the environment.

Throughout 2007-08, CNSC responded to the growing interest in constructing new nuclear power plants. No new power reactors have entered service in Canada since 1993, but as existing reactors reach the end of their operating lives, the nation's energy needs must be addressed in a safe, timely and efficient manner.

CNSC received applications in 2006 from Bruce Power Inc. and Ontario Power Generation Inc. for licences to prepare sites for future construction and operation of new nuclear power reactors. Pursuant to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, EAs were initiated for these projects in February 2007 and May 2007, respectively. The EAs will require several years to complete, and site preparation would likely start in 2009 at the earliest, once EAs were completed. In addition, the Commission Tribunal cannot issue a site preparation licence unless a decision has been made as a result of the EA that the project may proceed.

By the end of 2007, CNSC had received a third application to construct a new nuclear power plant in the Peace River region of Alberta. These applications may eventually lead to the construction of new nuclear power plants in Canada. CNSC laid the foundation for a new CNSC directorate, to be created in the 2008-09 fiscal year, that will be dedicated to major new build projects such as power plants and uranium mines and mills. Further anticipating upcoming interest, CNSC issued a new information document, Licensing Process for New Nuclear Power Plants in Canada (INFO-0756) which explained the key steps in licensing a new power plant under the requirements of the Nuclear Safety and Control Act and its regulations. The document was first issued in February 2006 and was being revised in March 2008 to include information about the joint review panel process, which integrates an Environmental Assessment (EA) and regulatory procedures into a concurrent process. Under a joint review panel, an EA can occur at the same time as the review of an application for a related licence to prepare a site. The joint review panel is established as a single body to make appropriate decisions about the EA and the related licence to prepare a site at different stages of the process.

In March 2008, Bruce Power Alberta applied to CNSC for a licence to prepare a site for future construction and operation of new reactors in Peace River, Alberta. An EA has not yet been triggered for this project.

CNSC has developed regulatory documents that provide guidelines for safety analysis, plant design and site evaluation for new nuclear power plants. RD-310, Safety Analysis for Nuclear Power Plants, was approved by the Commission Tribunal and published in 2007-08. Drafts of RD-337, Design of New Nuclear Power Plants, and RD-346, Site Evaluation for New Nuclear Power Plants, were approved for consultation and publication by the Commission Tribunal in September 2007 and are expected to be presented for final Commission Tribunal approval in early 2008-09. In March 2007, CNSC published Information on Design Review Process for New Build to elaborate on the review of reactor designs within the licensing and EA processes that were originally set out in INFO-0756.

Canada is one of the few countries whose nuclear activities cover the entire nuclear fuel cycle, including uranium mining, nuclear fuel fabrication and nuclear power generation. With the potential for significant worldwide growth in the nuclear power industry, domestic interest is rising in related areas such as uranium mining, processing and conversion, and nuclear fuel fabrication. Several companies have signalled their intent to pursue the construction of new uranium mines in Canada. However, no formal applications had been submitted to CNSC as of the end of the 2007-08 fiscal year.

CNSC is responsible for regulating uranium mines and mills and has put measures in place to prevent or control licensees' release of chemicals into the environment. CNSC and Environment Canada will produce joint annual reports on the initiatives to manage this aspect of uranium-related operations, and the first report is expected to be released in 2008.

Compliance

A key part of CNSC's regulatory approach is its compliance program, which monitors licensee conformance with regulatory requirements and licence conditions. CNSC's compliance program aims to maintain a safe nuclear sector and ensure that Canada meets its international commitments on the peaceful use of nuclear energy and materials.

To ensure compliance, CNSC uses a program that applies verification, monitoring and reporting measures to licensees. CNSC tailors this compliance program to licensee type; for example, compliance requirements for nuclear power plants differ from those for facilities that process nuclear substances.

CNSC's compliance program includes a variety of “desktop” reviews of documentation, and Type I and Type II inspections. Type I inspections are thorough, resource-intensive, complex on-site reviews that assess and verify key areas of licensee compliance. Type II inspections are point-in-time, snapshot verifications of licensee activities, which focus on outputs or performance of licensee programs, processes and practices. Findings from Type II inspections play a key role in identifying where a Type I inspection may be required to determine systemic problems in licensee programs, processes or practices.

In addition to its compliance program, CNSC applies further compliance verification measures to licensees based on level of risk. These measures will vary depending on factors such as a facility's location or environmental setting, a licensee's past compliance records, established safety programs, and the risk associated with non-compliance. For example, for a facility with a strong compliance track record and where the impact of non-compliance would be minimal, CNSC's additional compliance measures would be less onerous than those applied to a licensee whose non-compliance could have a significant safety impact.

CNSC regularly monitors licensees according to the requirements expressed in their licences. Any non-compliance receives appropriate attention and follow-up to correct the situation and to ensure that health and safety are not compromised.

Finally, as a signatory to the Treaty on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, Canada is required to conclude an agreement with the IAEA to enable the IAEA to verify that the country is fulfilling its obligations not to develop, manufacture, or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices. Pursuant to the agreement, the IAEA uses several measures, collectively referred to as “safeguards,” to verify that declared nuclear material is not diverted to nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices and to provide credible assurance on the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities. CNSC is the designated governmental authority responsible for implementing safeguards agreements between Canada and the IAEA.

2007-08 Compliance Activities

CNSC applied risk-informed decision making to the regulation of nuclear power plants

The regulatory framework and decision-making process for regulating nuclear power plants in Canada have always considered risk; however, the methods used to systematically address risk were not formalized. CNSC formed a working group in 2005 to enhance its regulatory capacity to assess risks associated with nuclear power plant licensing and compliance, and to use risk management principles to prioritize regulation and regulatory changes. These efforts were to ensure CNSC's limited resources would be used as effectively as possible, and to plan regulatory activities based on risk analysis, which is a rigorous and well-documented process that links activities to required results, as well as on CNSC personnel's judgement and expertise.

To meet these objectives, the working group identified appropriate risk management tools and methods, organized discussion and training sessions, interacted with stakeholders, and produced documents that defined risk management in CNSC's regulatory context. The group also described basic concepts of risk and risk management, highlighted typical risk decision-making situations at CNSC, and outlined a decision-making process based on the Canadian Standard CSA-Q850 for managing risk.

The new process was introduced in May 2006 for a 12-month trial period that included one-day training sessions and limited applications of the method. The trial period ended with satisfactory results, and the process is now being formally incorporated in CNSC's Management System Manual.

During and following the trial period, the process was successfully applied to many situations requiring regulatory decisions related to power reactor operation. The most recent use was in February 2007, when CNSC senior management met with members of the Canadian Nuclear Utilities Executive Forum to discuss significant matters of concern, including the path forward to resolve outstanding safety issues at Canadian nuclear power plants. Acting on one of the recommendations of that meeting, CNSC used the risk-informed decision-making process to identify approximately 75 CANDU safety issues and rank the 21 most significant ones according to risk. These safety issues were identified through extensive national and international research as well as interaction with numerous specialists, and findings were communicated to the industry later in the year. As a result, several of the safety issues have been closed. CNSC continues to apply the risk-informed decision-making process to identify adequate risk control measures for any of these safety issues that remain outstanding.

CNSC is acknowledged to be one of the world's leading organizations in developing and applying such a rigorous process in regulatory decision making. When applied to nuclear power reactor regulation, CNSC's risk-informed decision-making process improves regulatory transparency, efficiency and effectiveness, and results in defensible and pragmatic regulatory decisions. CNSC is gradually widening the use of this process throughout the organization to increase consistency in decision making and, as a result, regulatory predictability. Areas where the process will be used in the near future include resource allocation, prioritization of activities, and screening of research programs.

CNSC assured Canadians of the continuing compliance and safety performance of licensees

CNSC carried out its regulatory oversight throughout 2007-08 to monitor compliance with the NSCA, regulations and licence conditions. Where deficiencies were noted, CNSC undertook a graduated approach to ensure compliance.

  • Nuclear power plants: Every year, CNSC publishes the CNSC Staff Report on the Safety Performance of the Canadian Nuclear Power Industry (Industry Report). This document summarizes CNSC's assessment of the safety performance of nuclear power plants in Canada based on the legal requirements of the NSCA and its regulations, as well as the conditions of operating licences. The Industry Report is a comprehensive report card of the performance of Canada's five nuclear power reactor sites: Bruce, Darlington, Pickering, Bécancour, and Point Lepreau. In the 2007 Industry Report, CNSC concluded that overall, the Canadian nuclear power plant industry operated safely. The vast majority of grades were “B” ratings, indicating that licensees met CNSC expectations. Under the Industry Report rating system, CNSC assigns a “C” grade when licensee performance falls below requirements. A “C” rating does not mean a safety risk is unacceptable. Rather, it means that CNSC continues to closely monitor aspects of facilities that received “C” grades, to ensure that licensees or applicants are making every effort to mitigate the issues identified and fully meet CNSC requirements. During 2007, no nuclear power reactor facility received lower than a “C” grade.

    The 2007 report card on Canadian nuclear power plant performance can be found on page 76 of this annual report. The complete 2007 Industry Report, along with Industry Reports from previous years, is available on CNSC's Web site at nuclearsafety.gc.ca

    In 2007-08, CNSC's nuclear power plant compliance activities included routine field and control-room inspections, audits against regulatory requirements and standards, and reviews and assessments of licensee reports such as individual safety analysis reports and detailed event reports. In addition, CNSC conducted 112 safety-area focused inspections; examples include areas such as emergency preparedness, environmental protection, security, radiation safety, maintenance and equipment fitness for service. Where needed, appropriate enforcement actions were taken.

    CNSC compliance activities also included close monitoring of outage activities and plant refurbishments.
  • Nuclear cycle and research facilities: In addition to power plants, CNSC assesses the performance of more than 80 nuclear facilities, which range in diversity and location from uranium mines in Saskatchewan, to fuel cycle and nuclear substance processing facilities in Ontario, to various research and waste management facilities across Canada.

    Due to the complexity and uniqueness of these facilities, a risk-ranking process based on national risk management standard Q850/97 is being used to develop CNSC's annual compliance program. Technical assessments based on key safety-significant programs determine the type and frequency of inspections to be performed at each facility. In 2007-08, all facilities were inspected at least one time by CNSC inspectors based in Saskatoon, Chalk River and Ottawa. In total, 123 inspections (nine Type I and Type II) were carried out, resulting in a variety of follow-up activities to ensure compliance with site-specific licences, the NSCA and its regulations.

    In addition to facility inspections, CNSC's compliance and verification activities included reviews of licensee's quarterly and/or annual reports along with any reports submitted as a result of reportable events that occurred throughout the year.

    • As noted in CNSC's 2006-07 annual report, a flood occurred in October 2006 at Cameco Corporation's Cigar Lake uranium mining facility. Since then, the facility has been in recovery mode, and operations have been limited to the completion of authorized surface construction and remediation activities related to the flooded underground area. Corrective actions identified by the flood investigations and CNSC's review of the investigation reports were provided to the Commission Tribunal as a Significant Development Report. CNSC continues to monitor the implementation of Cameco Corporation's phased corrective action plans.
    • Also noted in the previous CNSC annual report was Cameco Corporation's proposed expansion of its Key Lake facility, which would have allowed for an increase in the production limit of uranium oxide from 18 million to 22 million pounds. The EA for this expansion is currently on hold pending completion of improvements to the effluent treatment systems to reduce effluent contaminant loadings, and subsequent verification by CNSC. In 2007-08, activities related to effluent treatment plant upgrades to reduce effluent loadings to the environment were initiated. A plan to expand a separate plant to treat groundwater and discharge from the Deilmann Pit area was reviewed, approved and commissioned.
    • On July 13, 2007, during a scheduled maintenance shutdown at the Cameco Port Hope conversion facility, contamination in the soil beneath Building 50 was discovered in an excavation made to install a new cooling water tank. Following this discovery, all production operations inside the building were shut down, and an independent investigation to determine the sources and extent of the contamination was initiated by Cameco Corporation. With the discovery of this incident, CNSC and the Ontario Ministry of the Environment enhanced the regulatory oversight of the situation to prevent unreasonable risk to human health and the environment.

      In October 2007, Cameco submitted a root cause investigation report to the Commission along with a remedial action plan (RAP) to collect and treat the effected groundwater as well as a plan to rehabilitate Building 50, to address any potential adverse environmental impacts from the incident. In mid-October 2007, CNSC personnel issued a request under subsection 12(2) of the General Nuclear Safety and Control Regulations to direct Cameco Corporation to install a groundwater treatment system to assist in mitigating potential impacts of the contamination. Cameco Corporation was also requested to submit a revised RAP to address the subsurface contamination.

      By the first quarter of 2008, a groundwater collection and treatment system had been installed and rehabilitation work within the building had been initiated. Approximately 660 tons of concrete floors and 3,530 tons of soil located beneath Building 50 and adjacent to the south side of the building were removed. The design and installation of the liquid effluent handling system being installed by Cameco Corporation has been inspected as part of the enhanced regulatory oversight undertaken throughout the event.

      Most recent groundwater and surface water monitoring data indicated that although trace amounts of contaminants from the sub-surface of Building 50 had reached the Port Hope harbour's turning basin, there were no indications that water quality in the harbour had changed. Based on the review of the information available to date, CNSC concludes there is no immediate risk to the environment or the general public.

      It is anticipated that the production operations at Building 50 of Cameco Corporation's Port Hope conversion facility will resume by the fourth quarter of 2008. CNSC will continue its enhanced regulatory oversight of the situation
    • During the reporting period, an enforcement order was issued to Western Cooperative Fertilizers Limited (WESTCO), which required the company to take actions and measures to protect the environment and the health and safety of persons in relation to a site in Calgary, Alberta. The order was issued to WESTCO, as owner of the property, when the company took possession of a building and lands that housed nuclear substances and that had previously been under the control of ESI Resources Inc., a former CNSC licensee.
  • Nuclear substances: CNSC uses a graduated enforcement approach that respects requirements for the health of Canadians to address non-compliance with respect to nuclear substances. Enforcement measures to restore compliance with regulatory requirements cover a spectrum of actions. These may range from a simple notification to a licensee along with a listing of what the licensee needs to do to meet requirements, to the revocation of a licence. Any enforcement measures must be taken in accordance with CNSC's authority under the NSCA and applied in a manner that is lawfully reasonable, equitable and consistent.

    CNSC's role in enforcing compliance with nuclear substance-related licences was illustrated in June 2007, when the Commission Tribunal concluded that 588972 Alberta Ltd. (operating as Enviropac) in Edmonton, Alberta, was no longer qualified to carry on the activities authorized by its licences.The Tribunal then suspended the licences for storage, processing of unsealed nuclear substances and calibration that it had previously issued to Enviropac. In July 2007, CNSC seized all nuclear substances and prescribed equipment at the Edmonton site, and removed high-risk sealed sources and transferred them to a licensed facility for further examination, pending a Federal Court order for disposal. An independent contractor carried out work in February 2008 to remove all remaining nuclear substances and prescribed equipment from the Enviropac site, and the nuclear substances were stored at a licensed facility, also pending a federal court order for disposal.

    CNSC led or participated in 75 Type I and 1,325 Type II regulatory compliance inspections of licensees in 2007-08. In addition, 2,267 desktop reviews of annual compliance reports were completed in the fiscal year.

    “Events” are unusual or unplanned occurrences with radioactive nuclear substances or prescribed equipment, which licensees must report to CNSC within specified timeframes. Reporting requirements for unplanned “events” are derived from the NSCA and the General Nuclear Safety and Control Regulations. CNSC responds to and evaluates the appropriateness, completeness and timeliness of information reported by the affected licensee. All reported events are assigned a risk classification based on several factors such as the nature of the material and the type of use. In 2007-08, there were 271 events reported to CNSC, most of which were classified as minor events. There were no events involving Category 1 sources. Eighteen events (out of 271) were related to Category 2 sources. CNSC reviewed and ensured resolution of all reported incidents.
  • Industrial radiography: CNSC worked actively with approximately 130 industrial radiography licensees and convened regional meetings to explain regulatory requirements, responding to licensee concerns and describing new regulatory initiatives.
  • Transportation: CNSC assessed 18 transportation security plans, 118 transportation licence applications, 30 import licence applications and 71 export licence applications from the security requirements perspective.
  • Nuclear security: An important part of CNSC's compliance program is verifying conformity with the Nuclear Security Regulations. CNSC has a specialized division of experienced security professionals who conducted five Type I security inspections at Canadian nuclear power plants and at AECL's Chalk River Laboratories.

    In addition, CNSC performed 15 Type II security inspections at nuclear power plants, waste management facilities, Chalk River Laboratories and at AECL's Whiteshell Laboratories. CNSC personnel also performed 150 Type II security inspections at those licensed facilities that use sealed radioactive sources. CNSC personnel reviewed 10 site security reports submitted by licensees who store Category I and II nuclear material to ensure they met CNSC's requirements.

CNSC's enforcement measures are aimed at licensees and persons whom it regulates. However, persons or institutions not requiring a CNSC licence but who conduct activities that fall under the NSCA and regulations must also meet legal requirements for radiation protection. This group includes certified persons and transport carriers, who submit their radiation protection program documentation to CNSC.

CNSC ensured Canada met international commitments
  • For 2007, the IAEA once again concluded that all nuclear material in Canada was being used for peaceful activities. Based on the results of its verification activities in Canada throughout the year along with all available safeguards-related information, the IAEA declared it found no indication of the diversion of nuclear material, pursuant to the Canada/IAEA Safeguards Agreement, and no indication of undeclared nuclear material or activities in Canada. Canada is one of 47 Member States for whom the IAEA has drawn this comprehensive safeguards conclusion.
  • In implementing the Canada/IAEA Safeguards Agreement, CNSC reviewed and submitted an unprecedented number (13) of new or updated facility design information questions, which form the basis for effective safeguards approaches. CNSC personnel also worked extensively on new safeguards approaches and procedures for the defuelling of two reactors at the Pickering A Nuclear Generating Station. Two high-level safeguards implementation meetings were held with the IAEA, and all action items identified for Canada at those meetings have been completed.
  • All imports and exports of nuclear material, such as uranium, were licensed and controlled through CNSC import and export licences issued under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Import and Export Control Regulations. In accordance with Canada's international commitments, CNSC also applied additional accounting, tracking and administrative controls to assure Canada and the supplying country that material would be used solely for peaceful purposes. CNSC personnel collaborated with Canada Border Services Agency officials to address import and export detentions resulting from non-compliance with the NSCA or licence conditions.
  • Over the past two years, Canada has undertaken two major initiatives to meet requirements of the IAEA's Code of Conduct on the Safety and Security of Radioactive Sources:
    • inventory tracking controls using a Sealed Source Tracking System (SSTS), within an upgraded National Sealed Source Registry (NSSR) that was implemented in 2006. Using a secure, Web-based system, licensees report possession and transactions involving sealed sources within strict reporting timeframes. Sealed sources, which are radioactive nuclear substances in sealed capsules, are used widely in industry, medicine and research. The SSTS and NSSR allow CNSC to track high-risk radioactive sealed sources from their manufacture to their final disposition. To implement the system, CNSC amended licences to legally require the reporting of radioactive source transactions.
    • implementation of import and export controls for sealed sources. Canadian industry is the leading global supplier and exporter of risk-significant radioactive sealed sources. As of April 1, 2007, those wishing to export Category 1 or Category 2 sealed sources need to obtain transaction-specific export licences from CNSC. During 2007-08, CNSC issued more than 300 licences for sealed-source exports to more than 40 countries. With this step, CNSC completed the second of two initiatives to adopt the IAEA's Code of Conduct on the Safety and Security of Radioactive Sources and to fully implement the IAEA's Guidance on the Import and Export of Radioactive Sources, and is now fully compliant with the Code. Together with the NSSR, the strengthened controls will assure Canadians and the global community of secure international transfers. As the first country with such robust inventory tracking, Canada has set an international example in ensuring the safety and security of high-risk radioactive sealed sources.

      Throughout 2007, the NSSR continued to expand its information on high-risk sources (Categories 1 and 2) as licensees reported their transactions. By the end of December 2007, the registry had information on 13,556 radioactive sealed sources in Canada, an increase of 6,406 over the previous year.

      During 2007, the SSTS was tracking the location and transfers of 2,198 Category 1 sources and 8,404 Category 2 sources. In addition, the NSSR contained information on 2,709 sources in Categories 3, 4 and 5, which are considered moderate- and low-risk sources and are not subject to mandatory tracking. The SSTS registered more than 39,000 transactions of all types throughout the year, which represents a 31-percent increase over 2006. This dramatic increase is partly attributed to increased outreach, resulting in better awareness in the licensed community and partly to the inclusion of new information in the database submitted by manufacturers of sealed sources.
National Sealed Source Registry Statistics

As of Dec 31, 2006

As of Dec 31, 2007

Number of NSSR transactions1

30,167

39,528

Number of sources in NSSR (all categories) in Canada

7,150

13,556

Number of Category 1 sources tracked in Canada

1,638

2,198

Number of Category 2 sources tracked in Canada

3,920

8,404

Number of Category 3 sources

995

1,351

Number of Category 4 sources

500

1,312

Number of Category 5 sources

97

291

1 This number represents all transactions for the NSSR and SSTS, including new sources added by manufacturers and imports and exports.

2007-08 CNSC Activities

Cooperative Undertakings

CNSC works both in Canada and internationally to advance nuclear safety, security and non-proliferation, and to share best practices with other agencies. Contributing extensively to the activities of the IAEA, CNSC cooperates with other regulators in maintaining a safe, secure and peaceful international nuclear sector.

2007-08 Cooperative Undertakings Activities

CNSC enabled Canada to meet international commitments to nuclear safety

  • Convention on Nuclear Safety
    As a Contracting Party to the Convention on Nuclear Safety, Canada is legally committed to maintaining high levels of safety at its nuclear power plants. The Convention covers siting, design, construction and operation of nuclear power plants, along with radiation protection, quality assurance and emergency preparedness. Under the Convention, Contracting Parties produce reports reviewed by peers and discussed at meetings held every three years. During 2007-08, CNSC led a team of representatives from the nuclear industry and other federal departments in producing and publishing the fourth Canadian National Report. This report demonstrated that, from April 2004 to March 2007, Canada continued to meet its obligations to under Convention's terms and that all Canadian nuclear power plant licensees fulfilled regulatory requirements. It will be presented at the Fourth Review Meeting in April 2008.
  • Code of Conduct on the Safety and Security of Radioactive Sources
    An enhanced import and export licensing and control program for risk-significant radioactive sealed sources was implemented on April 1, 2007. The program meets Canada's commitments to fully implement the import and export control provisions of the IAEA's Code of Conduct on the Safety and Security of Radioactive Sources and supplementary Guidance on the Import and Export of Radioactive Sources.

CNSC worked with Canadian and international partners to combat terrorism, support nuclear non-proliferation and further nuclear safety

  • Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada
    CNSC collaborated with Defence Research and Development Canada to develop and deliver the International First Responder Training Program, funded by Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada's Counter-Terrorism Capacity Building Program. The program helps beneficiary countries (currently Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand) improve their capacity to respond to acts of terrorism. A CNSC team that travels throughout Southeast Asia conducted three training missions during 2007-08, and nearly 2,000 first responders have received on-site training to date. Canadian Embassies and High Commissions in beneficiary countries have applauded this program, which is recognized as a flagship Canadian initiative.

    CNSC worked with Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada, along with other government departments, to help develop and implement Canadian domestic and international policy, programs, initiatives and measures in the areas of nuclear non-proliferation, safeguards, import/export control and security. This included participating in major non-proliferation and safeguards-related initiatives and events such as:
  • the 2007 Preparatory Committee meeting under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons
  • the Consultative Group and the Plenary of the Nuclear Suppliers Group
  • IAEA General Conference and Board of Governors
  • the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism
  • the G8 Non-Proliferation Directors Group
  • the United Nations Conference on Disarmament
  • the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1540 (preparation of Canada's National Report)
  • the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership
  • the Global Partnership Advisory Group

CNSC provided technical and policy advice to Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada, in negotiating and establishing new bilateral nuclear cooperation agreements with potential nuclear trading partner countries, and in amending existing agreements. In addition, CNSC assisted with ongoing implementation of provisions of existing nuclear cooperation agreements by managing and implementing bilateral administrative arrangements with its foreign counterparts.

  • Nuclear Suppliers Group
    In supporting Canada's international commitments to using nuclear energy and materials only for peaceful purposes, CNSC is an active member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group. This group brings together countries that apply export controls to nuclear substances, equipment and technology, to promote non-proliferation.
  • Nuclear Energy Agency
    CNSC contributed to the activities of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's NEA, a forum for sharing information and experience to develop consensus on technical matters and to foster best regulatory practices. CNSC provided Canadian representatives for key NEA committees and working groups, including those on nuclear installation safety, radiation protection and inspection practices.

    CNSC continued to participate in and contribute to the Multinational Design Evaluation Programme coordinated by the NEA. This initiative allows regulators who are evaluating new reactor designs to pool their knowledge and experience, providing CNSC with an opportunity to exchange information with its counterparts.
  • Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism
    CNSC maintained active support for and participation in the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism, which unites more than 60 like-minded countries in improving the control and physical protection of nuclear substances and materials, and enhancing the security of civilian nuclear facilities.
  • CANDU Senior Regulators' Meeting
    In cooperation with the IAEA, CNSC hosted the 2007 annual CANDU Senior Regulators' Meeting in Ottawa, welcoming senior regulatory representatives from all countries operating CANDU reactors (Argentina, Canada, China, India, Pakistan, Romania and South Korea). The forum allowed attendees to share information and experience regarding this Canadian-designed technology.
  • G8
    CNSC contributes to meetings of the G8 Non-Proliferation Directors Group and became more involved in the G8 Nuclear Safety and Security Group. These groups give CNSC a strong voice in high-level discussions and multilateral initiatives on non-proliferation, nuclear safety and nuclear security.
  • International Nuclear Regulators Association
    CNSC provides Canadian representation to the International Nuclear Regulators Association (INRA), an international group of senior nuclear regulators from Canada, France, Japan, Spain, South Korea, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States. INRA, which operates independently of other international organizations, provides regulators with a forum to discuss nuclear safety.
  • Approval and certification of packages
    CNSC is developing RD-364, Joint Canada-United States Guide for Approval of Type B(U) and Fissile Material Transportation Packages, which helps applicants demonstrate the ability of the given package to meet applicable Canadian or U.S. regulations. It is also intended to help reviewers assess and approve applications. Consultation is expected during the second quarter of 2008-09. A cooperative agreement with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the U.S. Department of Transportation will be established during 2008-09 to implement the guide.

CNSC worked with other nuclear regulators to further nuclear safety and security

  • CNSC expanded its network of bilateral Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) on regulatory cooperation, signing arrangements with the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency, the Republic of Korea's Ministry of Science and Technology and South Africa's National Nuclear Regulator. These arrangements provide CNSC with improved opportunities to share expertise on various issues, including CANDU reactor regulation, research reactor safety and uranium mining.
  • CNSC held consultations with regulatory counterparts in countries that are key importers of Canadian-supplied risk-significant radioactive sealed sources, in concert with the April 2007 launch of the enhanced import and export control program for these sources (pursuant to the IAEA's Code of Conduct on the Safety and Security of Radioactive Sources). These discussions took place to share information about participating countries' related import and export control programs and to determine how to best harmonize bilateral procedures. Draft bilateral import and export control administrative arrangements were agreed to in principle with three countries, and it is anticipated that these arrangements will be formally established during 2008-09. These bilateral administrative arrangements harmonize control procedures between Canada and recipient/supplier countries to promote efficient transfer authorizations.
  • Following the June 11, 2007 signing of a cooperative arrangement between South Korea's Ministry of Science and Technology and CNSC, meetings with South Korean regulatory representatives were held throughout the year. These meetings allowed fruitful technical discussions about CANDU reactors (used in South Korea) and on CNSC's experience in integrating international standards into domestic regulation.
  • CNSC hosted high-level and working-level meetings with regulatory counterparts from several countries, including the Republic of Korea, the United States and France. A February 2008 meeting, where CNSC hosted a senior representative of France's Nuclear Safety Authority, focused on enhanced Canada-France collaboration on various issues such the regulation of power reactors, tritium and radiation therapy.
  • CNSC's MOU with regulators in China and Romania were due for renewal at the end of 2007-08, but unexpectedly high turn-around times caused these to lapse. CNSC aims to renew these without further delay and to incorporate automatic renewal clauses in all MOUs.
  • As part of ongoing relations with the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (USNRC), CNSC personnel invited its counterparts to join them in an inspection of a Cameco Corporation facility in Port Hope, Ontario and of a General Electric Canada Inc. facility in Peterborough, Ontario.
  • The USNRC also participated in guided visits to MDS Nordion's Kanata facility as well as AECL's Chalk River Laboratories, both located in Ontario.
  • A brief guided tour of a northern Saskatchewan uranium mine was given to a delegation from the Mongolian People's Republic

CNSC provided leadership in International Atomic Energy Agency activities

In 2007-08, CNSC maintained an influential role in IAEA activities, contributing scientific and regulatory expertise to IAEA technical meetings and key committees.

  • In 2007, as part of the Canadian delegation to the annual IAEA General Conference that brings together all Member States for decisions on all aspects of IAEA work, CNSC supported Canada's Permanent Mission to the IAEA on issues that included nuclear safety and security, safeguards, nuclear non-proliferation, and import and export controls.
  • CNSC continued providing technical advice to Canada's Permanent Representative to the IAEA during meetings of the IAEA Board of Governors. For example, CNSC staff participated in the work of the Committee on Safeguards and Verification, established by the IAEA Board of Governors to consider ways of strengthening the IAEA's safeguards system.
  • CNSC provides Canada's representative to the IAEA Director General's Standing Advisory Group on Safeguards Implementation (SAGSI). The Canadian representative is also the current chair of SAGSI, a group of experts that provides advice on the technical objectives and implementation of IAEA safeguards and on the effectiveness and efficiency of specific implementation practices. Participation in this forum enables CNSC to influence the international verification system and to provide input based upon Canada's experience, which in turn contributes to more effective and efficient IAEA safeguards in Canada. During the year, SAGSI held two plenary meetings that focused on improving safeguards implementation and evaluation through, for example, enhancing the State evaluation process and developing new safeguards approaches and procedures to address current and future challenges.
  • CNSC provides Canadian representation to the IAEA Commission on Safety Standards (CSS) and its subcommittees on standards for nuclear facilities, radiation protection, transport and waste. During 2007-08, CNSC participated in a CSS initiative to establish a modernized, long-term integrated structure for IAEA safety standards, and also assisted in reviewing the IAEA's prominent Basic Safety Standards, which address radiation protection and radioactive source safety.
  • CNSC's regulatory expertise received international recognition when the IAEA called upon CNSC staff to participate in multilateral peer review missions to Australia, Japan and Romania, to evaluate these countries' regulatory frameworks and practices. CNSC will host a similar review mission in 2009.
  • CNSC, along with representatives from other government departments and the nuclear industry, continued the drafting of Canada's Third National Report for the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management, which will be presented to the IAEA in Fall 2008.

CNSC managed and funded the Canadian Safeguards Support Program

  • In 2007-08, CNSC delivered a comprehensive Canadian Safeguards Support Program (CSSP) which provides technical support and other resources to enhance the implementation of safeguards by CNSC and the IAEA.
  • In collaboration with the Swedish Nuclear Power Inspectorate, the CSSP worked to further develop the Digital Cerenkov Viewing Device, an apparatus to verify spent reactor fuel. The CSSP also funded the IAEA with $180,000 to upgrade two older models of the device.
  • CSSP consultants and staff provided support for training courses on topics that included CANDU reactor fundamentals, equipment, satellite imagery, and quality management. A computer-based training module on quality management systems has been produced and implemented to provide online training for IAEA Department of Safeguards staff.
  • The CSSP has developed an integrated information portal to assist with managing vast amounts of information. In collaboration with Health Canada, the CSSP also provided the IAEA with software to simplify collection and analysis of this information.
  • In collaboration with Defence Research and Development Canada and the Canada Centre for Remote Sensing, the CSSP kept the IAEA abreast on emerging technology for safeguards verification.
  • A secure electronic mailbox, which allows timely exchange of protected information among CNSC, its licensees and the IAEA, was implemented in all Canadian multi-unit nuclear reactor facilities. These communications are essential to the conduct of IAEA inspections and are a critical part of adopting the IAEA State-level safeguards approach in Canada.
  • Autonomous Data Acquisition Modules (ADAMs), which are used to monitor the flow of nuclear material, are key components of safeguards equipment used in CANDU reactors and other facilities under IAEA safeguards. For CANDU reactors, ADAMs monitor irradiated fuel out of the reactor cores and into the spent fuel bays, where fuel cannot be verified by inspectors. A new-generation ADAM is being developed to replace current modules that are becoming obsolete, and a prototype is expected by Summer 2008. Field trials are expected by the end of the next fiscal year.
  • The CSSP produced its annual report, which will be shared with partners and posted at nuclearsafety.gc.ca during 2008-09.