Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) Annual Report 2007-08

Overview and Priorities

CNSC regulates nuclear energy and substances in Canada. Through its licensing, certification and compliance processes, CNSC ensures that nuclear activities are carried out safely, in order to protect people, their health and their environment. CNSC also works to ensure that Canadians and Canadian companies respect Canada's international commitments on the peaceful use of nuclear energy.

CNSC was established in 2000 under the Nuclear Safety and Control Act (NSCA), and reports to Parliament through the Minister of Natural Resources. The agency was created as a successor to the former Atomic Energy Control Board, which was founded in 1946. CNSC's mandate, responsibilities and powers are set out in the NSCA and are elaborated in the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission Rules of Procedure and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission By-laws. Through the NSCA, regulations, associated regulatory documents, licences and licence conditions, CNSC regulates the entire Canadian nuclear cycle and all aspects of nuclear safety.

CNSC regulates:

  • nuclear power plants
  • uranium mines and mills
  • uranium processing and fuel fabrication facilities
  • nuclear research and test facilities and non-power reactors
  • nuclear substance processing facilities
  • radioactive waste and waste management facilities
  • nuclear substances and equipment in hospitals and cancer treatment centres
  • heavy water production plants

The organization is also responsible for:

  • regulating the use of nuclear substances and radiation devices, the packaging and transport of nuclear substances, and the import and export of nuclear substances and equipment
  • certifying personnel who hold key safety-related jobs at nuclear facilities
  • ensuring security at licensed nuclear facilities

CNSC also has regulatory oversight under the Nuclear Liability Act (NLA) and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA).

CNSC has approximately 670 personnel and a Commission Tribunal.

The Commission Tribunal has up to seven permanent members appointed by the Governor in Council. The President of CNSC is a permanent full-time member, and other members may be appointed to serve full or part time. Commission Tribunal members are chosen based on their credentials and are independent of all political, governmental, special interest group or industry influences.

The Commission Tribunal sets regulatory policy direction for the Canadian nuclear sector, makes legally binding regulations, and renders licensing decisions for nuclear facilities and uses. For licensing matters, the Commission Tribunal considers applicant proposals, recommendations of CNSC personnel, and stakeholder views before making its decisions. For major facilities, these licensing matters are considered through public hearings. To promote openness and transparency, the Commission Tribunal conducts business to the greatest extent possible in public hearings and meetings and, where feasible, in communities affected by the decision at hand. Proceedings are available live on the Internet and are archived on CNSC's Web site, providing access to people across the country and around the world.

Nuclear Sector Overview

The Canadian nuclear sector is experiencing rapid expansion driven by three key global trends:

  • Rising worldwide energy demand
    Projections indicate that global energy demand will continue to grow, with forecasts of a 50-percent increase by 2030. Electricity generation is also projected to nearly double by then, with concentration on renewable and alternative energy sources. Canadian electricity demand is expected to rise 1.3 percent annually until 2020, leading to a need for sustainable, clean energy sources1. By the year 2030, it is expected that 55 countries will operate more than 600 nuclear power plants. In turn, this will lead to greater global demand for uranium and a need for uranium mining and development. As the world's largest producer of uranium, Canada will be a key player in meeting the demand for nuclear energy.
  • Increasing concern about climate change
    At the same time, climate change is becoming an increasing concern and there is emerging international pressure for low-carbon economies and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. The Government of Canada has indicated that it will do its part by investing in electricity sources that include nuclear power.
  • Growing use of nuclear substances in medical applications
    There is a trend towards greater use of nuclear radioisotopes, particularly in medical imaging. Radioisotopes and radiation-emitting equipment are also required for cancer treatments, for which the need is increasing with Canada's aging population and an expected growth in cancer rates. Canada's number of Class II nuclear facilities, mainly cancer treatment centres, has doubled over the past five years. On December 10, 2007, the Government of Canada instituted a Directive to CNSC regarding the health of Canadians, as a complement to the NSCA, instructing the organization to take into account the health of Canadians in regulating the production, possession and use of nuclear substances.

    These trends are all shaping an increased demand for nuclear energy and materials, and CNSC is responding to meet the challenges associated with regulating an expanding nuclear industry. As Canada's nuclear regulator, CNSC is committed to ensuring that nuclear activities are conducted safely and securely, and that the health of Canadians is protected.

Priorities

In positioning itself for today and for the future, CNSC has identified four key priorities. These priorities drive all CNSC activities, which are discussed in the “CNSC Activities” section of this annual report, and are underscored by the guiding principles of safety, simplification of processes, clarification of requirements and expectations, timeliness, and transparency.

  • Manage growth of the regulatory program
    CNSC is addressing the growing interest in building new nuclear power plants in Canada as existing nuclear reactors age. As part of its increased focus on new nuclear power plants, CNSC has begun modernizing its regulatory framework to bring it in line with current international standards and to apply these standards to projects for building new nuclear plants.

    CNSC is clarifying regulatory expectations, particularly for potential new nuclear power plants, by establishing clear licence requirements and creating guidelines to help licensees meet them. Key regulatory documents RD-337, Design of New Nuclear Power Plants and RD-346, Site Evaluation for New Nuclear Power Plants, were completed over the past year and will be presented for final Commission Tribunal approval in early 2008-09.

    CNSC has been working with the Government of Canada to secure additional long-term resources. In 2007-08, CNSC received approval to change the mechanism of funding cost-recoverable activities from the annual Parliamentary appropriation to a new revenue spending authority regime. This regime, to be implemented between 2008 and 2010, will enable CNSC to face current and future workload pressures associated with the growing number and needs of licensees.

    In the face of considerable nuclear sector expansion, CNSC requires sufficient staff to continue delivering its mandate. Through aggressive, innovative approaches to recruitment and retention, CNSC worked during 2007-08 to secure highly qualified employees in a competitive labour market.
  • Deliver an effective regulatory program for existing facilities
    CNSC is committed to assuring Canadians of the safety and security of current nuclear activities in Canada, and its day-to-day operations focus on delivering an effective regulatory program for existing facilities.

    In its sustained commitment to stringent oversight of existing facilities, CNSC reviewed applications to renew or amend existing licences, to verify that licensees would continue to operate safely and in accordance with regulations and licence conditions. Based on these reviews, the Commission Tribunal renewed and amended licences for existing facilities, which included nuclear power plants, uranium mines and waste management facilities.

    Through inspections, reviews, and assessments, CNSC staff concluded that the nuclear power industry operated safely during 2007. The evaluation of safety areas and programs, as presented in its annual CNSC Staff Report on the Safety Performance of the Canadian Nuclear Power Industry, showed that overall, licensees made adequate provision for the protection of the environment, health and safety of persons, and undertook all the measures required to implement Canada's international obligations. No worker at any nuclear power station or member of the public received a radiation dose in excess of regulatory limits, and emissions from all plants were well below regulatory limits. This finding was consistent with those of previous years.
  • Implement improvement initiatives
    Initiatives are underway to coordinate the Environmental Assessment (EA) process for new major projects. CNSC worked with the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency to develop the framework for the conduct of joint review panels for major nuclear projects. A joint review panel integrates EAs and regulatory procedures into a single, concurrent process. The panel is established as a single body to make appropriate decisions at different stages for the EA and first licence application for a project while offering significant opportunities for public participation and exchange of views. In early Spring 2008, consultations will be launched for the proposed joint review panel agreements and environmental impact statement guidelines concerning the proposed Bruce Power New Build project and Ontario Power Generation Inc.'s Deep Geologic Repository.

    To address industry growth in Canada, CNSC created the new Directorate of Regulatory Improvement and Major Projects Management. The directorate, which will be a single point of contact for all new build activities, consolidates the skills and expertise required to address major projects like new reactor design reviews and applications for new uranium mines and new power reactors.

    The Major Projects Management Office (MPMO), established by the Government of Canada's Regulatory Improvement Initiative in late 2007, aims to improve regulatory co-ordination by providing licence applicants with a single, efficient point of entry into the federal regulatory process. The MPMO was established to enhance transparency, predictability, timeliness and accountability of the regulatory review and Aboriginal consultation processes for major natural resource projects, while maintaining existing regulatory responsibilities. CNSC is committed to working with the MPMO to share best practices and project plans for the regulation of major nuclear projects.
  • Enhance external engagement and outreach
    CNSC is expanding its communications and outreach activities to fully engage Canadians, hear their concerns and respond to them. During 2007-08, CNSC visited and consulted with communities throughout Canada to share information and gather public input on EAs and licensing decisions, the performance of the nuclear power industry, and proposed changes to regulatory documents.

    In line with its commitment to outreach, CNSC is improving accessibility to the public and licensees, with a special focus on Aboriginal consultations. CNSC is making greater use of the Web to inform all Canadians about the nuclear sector and nuclear safety, gather public feedback, respond to concerns, increase transparency, and offer online licensee services.

Highlight: AECL Chalk River Laboratories National Research Universal Reactor

Nuclear safety means balanced decisions

Many lessons were learned during 2007-08 when AECL's Chalk River NRU reactor was temporarily shut down to address safety issues. The situation triggered concern about domestic and worldwide supplies of radioisotopes - resulting in significantly increased public awareness of the importance of nuclear medicine and CNSC's role in making it safe.

In November 2005, CNSC renewed the operating licence for the National Research Universal (NRU) reactor with a licence condition that seven safety upgrades would be fully operational by December 31, 2005. In July 2006, the NRU licence was renewed for a further 63 months.

In late 2007, there was a licensing concern related to the National Research Universal (NRU) reactor in Chalk River. Specifically, two of the main heavy water pumps were not connected to the hazards-qualified emergency power supply. At the time, the NRU reactor was shut down for routine maintenance. AECL subsequently informed CNSC that it would not restart the NRU reactor on November 22 as originally planned until the situation was corrected.

In early December 2007, AECL requested regulatory approval to operate the NRU for a limited period of time with only one of the two pumps connected to the emergency power supply. CNSC apprised AECL that a complete safety case and request for licence amendment were required before the matter could be referred to the Commission Tribunal for a decision. Subsequently, on December 10, the Ministers of Natural Resources Canada and Health Canada wrote to the Presidents of CNSC and AECL, urging them to work together to restart the reactor safely with due regard for those relying on the medical isotopes produced by the NRU. The Government of Canada also issued a Directive to CNSC on December 10, instructing it to take into account the health of Canadians who, for medical purposes, depended on nuclear substances from nuclear reactors. The reactor remained shut down.

On December 11 and 12, 2007, the House of Commons and Senate respectively passed a law that authorized AECL to operate the NRU reactor for 120 days with certain conditions. The reactor was restarted on December 16 and production of medical isotopes resumed within days.

On January 14, 2008, Ms. Linda J. Keen was removed from her position as CNSC's President by the Governor in Council. Mr. Michael Binder was appointed as the organization's President on January 15.

CNSC has initiated a review of lessons learned as part of its culture of continuous improvement. The review, conducted by an independent consulting firm, will provide a concise overview of key findings and recommended improvements that will prevent a repeat occurrence or similar situation.

The review team is examining the performance of CNSC over the period leading up to and pursuant to the Commission Tribunal decision to renew the NRU reactor operating licence, as well as the period leading up to AECL's decision to shut down the reactor. AECL is also conducting a lessons-learned review using the same independent consultants.

CNSC will respond to the consultants' report, recommendations and resulting action plans during the 2008-09 fiscal year, once it has received and reviewed the report.

2007-08 CNSC Activities

Regulatory Framework

CNSC regulates the nuclear sector from “cradle to grave”. In accordance with CNSC's mandate under the NSCA, nuclear safety, environmental protection, nuclear security and measures to ensure Canadians respect Canada's international obligations regarding the peaceful use of nuclear energy must be considered at all stages of a nuclear facility's lifecycle: site preparation; construction; operation; decommissioning; and, if appropriate, eventual abandonment and/or release of the site for other purposes. As a Responsible Authority for nuclear projects, CNSC also conducts EAs in accordance with the CEAA and any regulations under that Act.

A nuclear facility's lifecycle can vary widely, from one or two decades for a uranium mine or mill, to 60 to 100 years for a nuclear power plant, to centuries and more for nuclear waste facilities. Varying requirements for the siting, design, construction and operation of these different types of nuclear facilities pose different regulatory challenges.

The use of nuclear substances in industrial applications such as industrial radiography, medicine such as cancer treatment, and research such as materials science, is also constantly evolving, again posing new challenges to the nuclear regulatory regime.

As Canada's nuclear regulator, CNSC is committed to developing a strong, robust, modern and forward-looking regulatory framework that addresses the current and future regulatory challenges of the nuclear sector. CNSC's regulatory framework consists of regulations, licence conditions, regulatory documents, and domestic and international standards.

The various regulations under the NSCA set out regulatory requirements related to nuclear facilities and activities using nuclear substances that apply to all licensees or to classes of licensees or activities. Regulations are made in accordance with the Statutory Instruments Act, and the Cabinet Directive on Streamlining Regulation.

CNSC imposes licence conditions to ensure that licensees will address issues related to health and safety, the environment, or other aspects specific to their facilities or that are not addressed in regulations. Licence conditions are legally binding.

Regulatory documents provide guidance to licensees on CNSC's regulatory program and how to meet CNSC's regulatory expectations. Regulatory documents are not legally binding.

Finally, CNSC technical experts also participate in a number of domestic and international standard-setting initiatives, such as the development of nuclear standards by the Canadian Standards Association and the IAEA. Generally, these standards provide guidance on best practices; they can, however, become legally binding when incorporated into a regulation or licence.

2007-08 Regulatory Framework Activities

Enforcing compliance with regulations and licence conditions to ensure licensees are meeting regulatory obligations is a core CNSC responsibility. CNSC also ensures it has a modern, internationally benchmarked regulatory framework that addresses emerging risks, and that can respond to industry growth, whether that growth be the refurbishment of existing reactors, the construction of new nuclear power plants, the increase in uranium mining and milling, or the expansion of nuclear medicine.

During 2007-08, CNSC made significant strides in these areas through the following initiatives:

CNSC streamlined and strengthened its regulatory framework

  • CNSC is responding strategically to the nuclear sector's rapid growth. In 2007, CNSC strengthened the roles and responsibilities of its Regulatory Policy Committee (RPC) to ensure that CNSC's regulatory framework can be better aligned with the organization's overall strategic direction and to developments in the nuclear sector. The RPC consists of senior CNSC executives, is chaired by the Commission Secretary and is supported by the RPC Working Group. In September 2007, the Commission Tribunal approved a revised regulatory framework, proposed by the RPC, for the development and approval of regulations and regulatory documents
  • CNSC is also responding to the renewed focus on regulation set out in the Cabinet Directive on Streamlining Regulation that came into effect on April 1, 2007. Among other policy objectives, this directive calls for expanded consultation with stakeholders on regulatory initiatives. In line with this requirement, CNSC took steps to enhance its existing stakeholder consultation efforts, by holding information sessions on key regulatory documents related to the siting and design of new nuclear power plants and by posting the public comments related to these documents on its Web site for further comment.

CNSC worked towards a modernized safeguards framework

  • CNSC continued to develop a national verification program that is aimed at controlling nuclear materials, ensuring their peaceful use and making certain that all are declared. The program will complement the IAEA's verification efforts, collectively referred to as “safeguards”, which involve inspecting nuclear and related facilities to confirm that nuclear materials and activities are not used for military purposes.
  • 2007-08 saw significant advancement in the move to a new system for the IAEA's verification activities in Canada. This new system, which will shift from a facility-based approach to one that focuses on a State as a whole, is being implemented sector by sector. This evaluation process takes into account a given State's overall nuclear fuel cycle characteristics, including planned activities, and information from a variety of sources. Accomplishments in 2007-08 include implementation of a new way to handle the transfer of spent fuel at multi-unit reactor stations, and progress in the revision of safeguards verification processes at uranium processing facilities and nuclear power reactors.

CNSC amended regulations

  • Nuclear Substances and Radiation Devices Regulations and Class II Nuclear Facilities and Prescribed Equipment Regulations
    CNSC amended the Nuclear Substances and Radiation Devices Regulations and the Class II Nuclear Facilities and Prescribed Equipment Regulations, with consequential amendments to the General Nuclear Safety and Control Regulations and the Class I Nuclear Facilities Regulations.

    Amendments to these regulations correct regulatory deficiencies that came to light since they came into force in May 2000. The amendments also correct inconsistencies in order to better protect workers, the public and the environment, and they adopt the latest international standards for exemption values and clearance levels. The adoption of international standards in the regulations is in line with the principles outlined in the Cabinet Directive on Streamlining Regulation. The changes were registered and published in Part II of the Canada Gazette after fiscal year end.

Miscellaneous amendments to regulations

In 2007-08, two regulatory initiatives to make miscellaneous amendments to a number of regulations, to correct minor errors and address inconsistencies between the English and French versions of the regulations identified by the Standing Joint Committee on the Scrutiny of Regulations, were completed. The following regulations were amended:

  • General Nuclear Safety and Control Regulations
  • Radiation Protection Regulations
  • Class I Nuclear Facilities Regulations
  • Uranium Mines and Mills Regulations
  • Nuclear Non-Proliferation Import and Export Control Regulations
  • Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission Rules of Procedure
  • Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission Cost Recovery Fees Regulations

These amendments came into effect in October 2007, with the exception of those to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission Cost Recovery Fees Regulations, which were registered and published in Part II of the Canada Gazette after fiscal year end.

CNSC continued to develop new regulations and amend existing regulations

  • Nuclear Non-Proliferation Import and Export Control Regulations
    These regulations are undergoing amendment to ensure that CNSC import and export control requirements for nuclear and nuclear-related dual-use items continue to meet international standards. Nuclear-related dual-use items are articles with legitimate non-nuclear uses that could also make a significant contribution to nuclear explosive devices or unsafeguarded nuclear fuel cycle activities. Publication in Part I of the Canada Gazette is planned for early 2009.
  • Class II Nuclear Facilities and Prescribed Equipment Regulations
    A proposed amendment will require the certification of radiation safety officers in Class II nuclear facilities. In line with the CNSC regulation-making process, CNSC sought initial comments for the proposed amendment. A formal consultation period is expected to follow.
  • New nuclear safeguards regulations
    CNSC personnel continued developing nuclear safeguards regulations to clarify and consolidate measures by which licensees will meet the requirements of the NSCA and the Safeguards Agreement and Additional Protocol between Canada and the IAEA.

CNSC developed regulatory documents to clarify requirements

In response to the nuclear industry's plans to refurbish existing nuclear reactors and to build new nuclear power plants to meet energy demand, CNSC has devoted significant time and effort to clarifying the regulatory expectations related to nuclear power plants.

The following regulatory documents were approved by the Commission Tribunal and were published in 2007-08:
  • RD-310, Safety Analysis for Nuclear Power Plants
    RD-310 helps ensure that during the construction, operation or decommissioning of a nuclear power plant, adequate safety analyses are completed by, or on behalf of, the applicant or licensee in accordance with the NSCA and regulatory requirements.
  • RD-360, Life Extension of Nuclear Power Plants
    RD-360 informs licensees about the steps and phases to consider when undertaking a project to extend the life of a nuclear power plant.
  • RD-204, Certification of Persons Working at Nuclear Power Plants
    RD-204 defines requirements to ensure that persons seeking certification or renewal of certification by CNSC for a position referred to in the licence of a nuclear power plant are qualified to carry out the duties of that position, in accordance with the NSCA and the regulations made under the NSCA.
  • G-323, Ensuring the Presence of Sufficient Qualified Staff at Class I Nuclear Facilities - Minimum Staff Complement
    G-323 helps licensees and applicants for Class I nuclear facility licences demonstrate to CNSC that they will ensure the presence of a sufficient number of qualified workers to carry on the licensed activity safely and in accordance with the NSCA, regulations made under the NSCA, and their licences.
  • S-210, Maintenance Programs for Nuclear Power Plants
    S-210 sets out CNSC expectations for maintenance program requirements that nuclear power plant licensees shall implement.
The following were approved by the Commission Tribunal for consultation:
  • RD-337, Design of New Nuclear Power Plants
    RD-337 sets out CNSC's expectations regarding the design of new water-cooled nuclear power plants and is expected to be presented to the Commission Tribunal for final approval in the first quarter of 2008-09.
  • RD-346, Site Evaluation for New Nuclear Power Plants
    RD-346 sets out CNSC's expectations for site evaluation for new nuclear power plants and is expected to be presented to the Commission Tribunal for final approval in the first quarter of 2008-09.

Given the importance of these two regulatory documents to industry and other stakeholders, the CNSC made considerable efforts to hear and consider input from industry and stakeholders. In addition to the normal opportunity to comment offered to all Canadians, CNSC held an information session about RD-337 and RD-346 in Toronto in late November 2007, and also provided an opportunity to comment on feedback received. The CNSC will continue to ensure it considers the views of Canadians when developing its regulatory framework.

RD-337 and RD-346 will be presented to the Commission Tribunal in early 2008-09, for final approval and publication.

CNSC regulatory documents are available on CNSC's Web site at nuclearsafety.gc.ca

CNSC worked with partners on safety standards

  • CNSC collaborated with the IAEA on its safety standard Radiation Protection Programmes for the Transport of Radioactive Material Safety Guide (TS-G-1.3), published in November 2007.
  • CNSC also contributed to the development of the following Canadian Standards Association nuclear standards, which were published during 2007-08:

New standards:

  • N290.14, Qualification of Pre-Developed Software for Use in Safety-Related Instrumentation and Control Applications in Nuclear Power Plants
  • N291, Requirements for Safety-Related Structures for CANDU Nuclear Power Plants
  • N292.3, Management of Low- and Intermediate-Level Radioactive Waste

New editions of standards:

  • N287.2, Material Requirements for Concrete Containment Structures for CANDU Nuclear Power Plants
  • N292.2, Interim Dry Storage of Irradiated Fuel

2007-08 CNSC Activities

Licensing and Certification

CNSC is mandated under the NSCA to regulate nuclear facilities and nuclear-related activities in Canada. CNSC will only issue licences or certificates for nuclear-related activities to applicants who are qualified under the NSCA and who will make adequate provision for the protection of the environment, health and safety of persons, and the maintenance of national security and measures required to implement international obligations to which Canada has agreed.

During 2007-08, the Commission Tribunal held 43 hearings and 7 meetings. Key decisions for major nuclear facilities included the five-year renewal of the Darlington Nuclear Generating Station's power reactor operating licence. Demonstrating confidence that licensees are competently and adequately managing waste, the Commission Tribunal also approved the renewal of operating licences for the Western Waste Management Facility, Darlington Waste Management Facility and Pickering Waste Management Facility.

More than 90 percent of Commission Tribunal decisions during the year were issued within the published standard of 30 business days, with an average turnaround time of 16 business days, representing turnaround times that surpass best practices in the administrative tribunal community. A complete list of 2007-08 hearings is found on page 50, and documentation appears on CNSC's Web site at nuclearsafety.gc.ca

2007-08 Licensing Activities

CNSC oversaw Environmental Assessments

An EA is a planning tool that federal authorities use to help predict, evaluate, and mitigate the environmental effects of a proposed project under both normal and abnormal operating conditions. EAs examine many factors, including air and water quality, noise, human health, Aboriginal interest, physical and cultural heritage, and use of land and resources.

When CNSC receives an application to prepare a site and/or construct a new nuclear facility, an EA is triggered under the CEAA. A licence cannot be issued until an EA is complete.

There are two types of EAs at CNSC: screenings and comprehensive studies. A screening is usually conducted for projects that are unlikely to cause significant negative environmental effects, whereas a comprehensive study is usually conducted for large, complex projects that are likely to have significant negative environmental effects or draw public interest or concern. These projects are listed in the Comprehensive Study List Regulations under the CEAA. Screenings and comprehensive studies both have the potential to be referred to a review panel.

For major resource projects such as nuclear power plants, uranium mines or any potential projects involving future development of fuel processing facilities, the Government of Canada's new MPMO coordinates the work of all federal departments and agencies with a role in the regulatory process, including EAs for large and complex proposals and Aboriginal consultations to satisfy the Crown's duty to consult, if appropriate.

During 2007-08, 27 EAs remained active and two were completed. Eleven major EAs provided opportunities for extensive public consultation.

  • More than 20 screening-level EAs were active as of April 1, 2007, and four were initiated during 2007-08. Screenings included the development of EA guidelines for the Commission Tribunal's decision; for example, Zircatec Precision Industries Inc.'s proposed production of slightly enriched uranium fuel bundles at its Port Hope facility, the proposed Caribou Project at the McClean Lake Operation, and the proposed construction and operation of a bulk materials landfill at the Chalk River Laboratories.
  • During 2007-08, three comprehensive studies were also underway. These included the drafting of the EA track report for AREVA Resources Canada Inc.'s proposed uranium mining operations in northern Saskatchewan for the Commission Tribunal's consideration. Following an April 2007 public hearing, the Commission Tribunal recommended to the federal Minister of the Environment that this project continue as a comprehensive study.
  • Initiatives were undertaken to coordinate EA processes for new major projects. These included the drafting of joint review panel agreements with the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency for Bruce Power's Ontario New Build project and Ontario Power Generation Inc.'s Deep Geologic Repository to house low- and intermediate-level radioactive waste, for which EAs were initiated in February 2007 and May 2007, respectively. In support of these two projects, discussions were held with the public and other stakeholders as well as the Saugeen Ojibway First Nations, and a consultation plan was completed. A review panel is also being established for Ontario Power Generation Inc.'s Darlington New Build project.

CNSC addressed growing interest in the development of new nuclear power plants

No new reactors have entered service in Canada since 1993, but with the projected need for more energy and the age of existing reactors, the need for and interest in building new nuclear plants has been growing.

Since August 2006, CNSC has received three applications that may eventually lead to the construction of new nuclear power plants in Canada. In late 2006, CNSC established a New Reactor Licensing Division to focus on developing a modern regulatory framework for licensing new nuclear power plants, documenting licensing requirements and creating guidelines to meet these requirements. This material builds upon many years of licensing and compliance experience with Canada's existing reactors and on international guidelines and experience.

In anticipation of more concrete interest in building new reactors, CNSC also issued INFO-0756, Licensing Process for New Nuclear Power Plants in Canada, in February 2006. This document explains the key steps in licensing a new reactor, taking into consideration the requirements of the NSCA and its regulations. 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. At the end of March 2008, CNSC was revising this document to include information about the joint review panel process, which integrates 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.

The applications that CNSC received in late 2006 from Bruce Power Inc. and Ontario Power Generation Inc., for licences to prepare sites for future construction and operation of new nuclear power plants, have triggered EAs that will require a few years to complete.

  • During 2007-08, it was decided to refer both Bruce Power's New Build project and Ontario Power Generation Inc.'s Darlington New Nuclear Power Plant project to review panels. CNSC has been working with the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency to develop the guidelines and joint panel agreements for these EAs. Site preparation for either of these projects would commence in 2009 at the earliest, and would only proceed once EAs are 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.
  • It is expected that the draft EA guidelines and draft joint panel agreement for Bruce Power's New Build project will be issued for public comment in early fiscal 2008-09, and that Bruce Power will submit its Environmental Impact Statement in Fall 2008. Additionally, $50,000 in participant funding was made available in July 2007 to promote public participation in this project's EA.
  • For the Darlington New Nuclear Power Plant project, the draft EA guidelines and draft joint panel agreement are planned to be released for public comment in Summer 2008, and Ontario Power Generation Inc. expected to submit its Environmental Impact Statement in Spring 2009. Participant funding in the amount of $75,000 was allocated for this EA.
  • In March 2007, Bruce Power Alberta applied to CNSC for a licence to prepare a site for future construction and operation of new nuclear power reactors in Peace River, Alberta. This application has not yet triggered an EA, as CNSC is awaiting a project description.

CNSC provided regulatory oversight for nuclear power plant refurbishment and potential construction of new reactors

Canadian utilities are undertaking projects to extend the operating lives of several of their nuclear power plants. A project to extend the life of a nuclear plant represents a commitment to continued long-term of the facility, and it may involve the replacement or refurbishment of major plant components, substantial modifications to the plant, or both.

CNSC is responsible for the regulatory oversight of nuclear power plant life extension projects, and considers it to be in the public interest that licensees address modern, high-level safety goals and meet applicable regulatory requirements for safe and secure long-term operation of nuclear power plants. To this end, CNSC amends nuclear power plant licences to introduce specific conditions for the regulatory control of life extension projects. Throughout a life extension project and subsequent reactor operation, nuclear power plant licensees are expected to adhere to requirements of the NSCA, the CEAA and associated regulations, as well as to all licence conditions.

Regulatory approval for a refurbishment project or related licences will only be granted after an EA has been completed and has received Commission Tribunal approval. When considering life extension of a nuclear power plant, the licensee must also undertake an integrated safety review (ISR), which is a comprehensive assessment of nuclear power plant design and operation. The ISR evaluates the plant's current state, operations and performance to determine how well the plant conforms to modern standards and practices, and to identify any factors that would limit safe long-term operation. Operating experience in Canada and around the world, new knowledge from research and development activities, and advances in technology, are taken into account. This enables the determination of reasonable and practical modifications that should be made to the plant's systems, structures, and components and to management arrangements, in order to increase facility safety to a level comparable to that of modern nuclear power plants and to allow for long term operation. Guidance on ISRs is found in the IAEA's Periodic Safety Review of Nuclear Power Plants - Safety Guide.

Licensees participate in public hearings for licence renewals that will be in effect at the time of life extension activities. At these hearings, licensees must demonstrate to the Commission Tribunal that they are qualified and will make adequate provisions to protect health and safety while carrying out life extension activities. CNSC personnel may recommend licence conditions that require licensees to demonstrate that refurbishment activities have been completed. The Commission Tribunal will then verify the successful completion of all appropriate commissioning tests and verifications before granting final approval to return facilities to service. Following a nuclear plant's return to full-power operation, CNSC will continue to monitor the facility through its regulatory oversight program.

In February 2008, CNSC published RD-360, Life Extension of Nuclear Power Plants, to inform licensees about the steps and phases to consider when undertaking a project to extend the life of a nuclear power plant.

For all Canadian nuclear power plants undergoing refurbishment (Point Lepreau Generating Station, Bruce A Nuclear Generating Station and Pickering B Nuclear Generating Station), CNSC considered ISRs prepared and submitted by licensees in accordance with the IAEA's Periodic Safety Review of Nuclear Power Plants - Safety Guide.

CNSC is providing regulatory oversight for refurbishment activities that are in progress at the following sites:

  • units 1 and 2 at the Bruce A Nuclear Generating Station, which are scheduled to return to service in 2009, subject to Commission Tribunal approval
  • the Point Lepreau Nuclear Generating Station, which is scheduled to return to service in 2009, subject to Commission Tribunal approval

For the Point Lepreau refurbishment, an agreement is being developed between CNSC, the licensee (New Brunswick Power Nuclear), and the New Brunswick Department of Public Safety for an accredited Authorized Inspection Agency (AIA). The accredited AIA will act as an independent third party to provide services pertaining to pressure boundaries, as required by the Canadian Standards Association's N285 series and B51 standards.

In addition, CNSC is engaged in activities leading to determination of the scope of work for refurbishment of units 5, 6, 7 and 8 at the Pickering B Nuclear Generating Station, including an EA and an ISR. The licensee is performing pre-refurbishment feasibility studies, and work is forecasted to begin in 2014 if the Government of Ontario agrees to proceed. CNSC is also overseeing the process to place the Pickering A Nuclear Generating Station's units 2 and 3 in a guaranteed defueled state, to prepare for future decommissioning. Unit 2 is currently defuelled, and unit 3 is in a guaranteed shutdown state, with defuelling in progress. A screening-level EA is currently ongoing for this project at units 2 and 3, which, when complete, will allow these units to be placed in a safe storage state.

CNSC expects regulatory activities to begin in the next two years for projects currently in the early planning stages by licensees at the following sites:

  • units 5, 6, 7 and 8 at the Bruce B Nuclear Generating Station
  • the Gentilly-2 Nuclear Generating Station
  • units 1, 2, 3 and 4 at the Darlington Nuclear Generating Station

CNSC addressed growing Canadian interest in uranium mining

  • CNSC has received six letters of intent for new mines throughout Canada. These include two from Saskatchewan and one each from Nunavut, Ontario, Québec and Labrador. During 2007-08, CNSC held ongoing discussions with responsible jurisdictions on developing appropriate EA processes.
  • The level of public support for uranium exploration and new mines varies considerably across the country. During 2007-08, CNSC held public meetings in support of Aboriginal governments in Canada's north to assure Canadians that any new mining operations would be subject to regulatory requirements and controls.
  • CNSC received and accepted invitations to make presentations on the regulation of uranium mining activities:
    • a uranium recovery workshop in Denver, Colorado, hosted by the US National Mining Association and US Nuclear Regulatory Commission
    • a conference in Whistler, British Columbia, hosted by provincial ministers of energy and mines and organized by a subcommittee of the Intergovernmental Working Group on the Minerals Industry
    • CNSC continued monitoring existing uranium mines to verify compliance with regulatory and licence requirements, and ensured that findings were accurately reported to stakeholders and the Commission Tribunal.

CNSC oversaw the licensing of nuclear substances

CNSC provides regulatory oversight for 3,174 active licences for nuclear substances. The Commission Tribunal grants specific Designated Officers the power to issue certain types of licences and certificates. Most licences for nuclear substances fall into this category. In 2007-08, 228 new licences for nuclear substances were issued, along with 1,007 licence amendments and 466 licence renewals.

There has been a steady increase (10 percent) in the number of licensed facilities for the delivery of radiation therapy treatment throughout the country over the past several years. Another emerging trend among Canadian radiation therapy centres in the past year has been to replace existing radiation therapy equipment well before old equipment reaches the end of its life. The reason for this change has been the development of new-generation machines with more sophisticated treatment delivery tools and enhanced imaging capabilities. An estimated 10 percent of existing linear accelerators are replaced in this manner each year. These trends are expected to continue at these rates.

With the increasing acceptance of Positron Emission Tomography (PET) as the imaging mode of choice for cancer management, the number of licensed PET centres across Canada has more than doubled over three years. There has also been a corresponding increase in the number of PET cyclotrons used for the production of radioisotopes in Canada. Three applications for new PET cyclotron facilities are in the process of regulatory assessment, and an equal number of sites are in the application preparation stage. PET is expected to be an area of significant growth in the years to come.

CNSC addressed the safe operation of Canadian nuclear waste management facilities

  • CNSC renewed operating licences for the following waste management facilities:
    • Ontario Power Generation Inc.'s Pickering Waste Management Facility
    • Ontario Power Generation Inc.'s Western Waste Management Facility located at the Bruce Nuclear Generating Station
  • Hydro-Québec's operating licence for its waste facility in Gentilly, Québec, was amended to permit the construction of a new waste area.
  • Ontario Power Generation Inc. was granted an operating licence for its newly completed used dry fuel storage facility located at the Darlington Nuclear Generating Station.
  • New Brunswick Power Nuclear received CNSC's approval to operate the newly completed Phase 1 expansion of its waste management facility in Point Lepreau, New Brunswick.

2007-08 Certification Activities

CNSC modified certification processes

  • In November 2000, CNSC decided to withdraw from directly examining shift personnel whose positions were referred to in nuclear power plant operating licences. Thereafter, CNSC would continue to certify shift personnel, but would rely on sound training programs and certification examinations administered by licensees in accordance with their licences. The assurance of competence of candidates for CNSC certification would be obtained from increased regulatory oversight of the licensees' training and examination programs. This regulatory oversight was approved by the Commission Tribunal on September 13, 2007, and is outlined in RD-204, Certification of Persons Working at Nuclear Power Plants, which was published on February 15, 2008. The Commission Tribunal will be asked to make a decision on the implementation of the program and on the final transfer of responsibility for certification examination to licensees.
  • A proposed amendment to the Class II Nuclear Facilities and Prescribed Equipment Regulations will require the certification of radiation safety officers in Class II nuclear facilities, the majority of which are cancer treatment clinics. In line with its regulation-making process, CNSC sought initial comments for the proposed amendment, and a formal consultation period is expected to follow.
  • In 2006-07, CNSC initiated a review of the processes for certifying exposure device operators. Following meetings with the radiography industry and Natural Resources Canada, a CNSC working group prepared a report with recommendations to improve the certification process for these operators, who had previously been granted lifetime certification. This past year, CNSC completed its review of the certification processes and is evaluating the report's recommendations. CNSC will continue meeting with the radiography industry and Natural Resources Canada regarding any changes to exposure device operator certification.

CNSC addressed continued demand for certifying transport packaging, radiation devices and Class II prescribed equipment

  • CNSC continued assessing applications for the certification of transport package designs, special-form radioactive material, and transport under special arrangement. Certification applications for radiation devices and Class II prescribed equipment (a category that includes nuclear devices used in medicine, research and industry) were also assessed. In all, during 2007-08, CNSC issued 48 certificates related to transport (18 Canadian package design certificates, 20 endorsements of foreign package design certificates, 8 special form certificates and 2 special arrangements certificates) and 52 certificates related to certification of radiation devices and Class II prescribed equipment.

1 Sources: International Energy Agency, World Energy Outlook 2006; Energy Information Administration, International Energy Outlook 2007; Ux Consulting, Nuclear Power Outlook, October 2007.