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

Report Card on Nuclear Power Plant Performance as of January 2008

Each year, CNSC publishes an annual Staff Report on the Safety Performance of the Canadian Nuclear Power Industry (Industry Report), a comprehensive report card of the performance of Canada's five nuclear power reactor sites - Bruce, Darlington, Pickering, Bécancour, and Point Lepreau.

CNSC assesses licensee programs and their implementation separately, according to five ratings that range from “A” (exceeds requirements) to “E” (unacceptable). Grades are assigned for both design of a program and its implementation, for performance in each safety area and for programs within each safety area.

In the 2007 Industry Report, CNSC personnel concluded that overall, the nuclear power plant industry operated safely. The vast majority of all grades were “B's” indicating licensees met CNSC expectations. CNSC assigned a “C” grade where licensee performance fell below CNSC requirements. Even though a “C” rating does not mean a safety risk is unacceptable, CNSC continues to closely monitor facilities that received “C” grades, to ensure that licensees or applicants are making every effort to mitigate the issues identified. No facility received a lower than a “C” grade in 2007.

Safety area/
Program

P or I

Bruce

Darlington

Pickering

Gentilly-2

Point Lepreau

A

B

A

B

Operating performance

P

B

B

B

B

B

B

B

I

B

B

B

C

B

B

B

Organization and plant management

P

B

B

B

B

B

B

B

I

B

B

B

C

B

B

B

Operations

P

B

B

B

B

B

B

B

I

B

B

B

C

B

B

B

Occupational health and safety (non-radiological)

P

B

B

B

B

B

B

B

I

A

A

A

B

B

B

B

Performance assurance

P

B

B

B

B

B

B

B

I

B

B

B

C

B

B

B

Quality management

P

B

B

B

B

B

B

B

I

B

B

B

C

B

C

B

Human factors

 

P

B

B

B

B

B

B

B

I

B

B

B

C

B

B

C

Training, examination and certification

P

B

B

B

B

B

B

B

I

C

B

B

B

B

B

B

Design and analysis

P

B

B

B

B

B

B

B

I

B

B

B

B

B

B

B

Safety analysis

P

B

B

B

B

B

B

B

I

B

B

B

B

B

B

B

Safety issues 

P

B

B

B

B

B

B

B

I

B

B

B

B

B

B

B

Design

P

B

B

B

B

B

B

B

I

C

B

B

C

B

B

B

Equipment fitness for service

P

B

B

B

B

B

B

B

I

B

B

B

B

B

B

B

Maintenance 

P

B

B

B

B

B

B

B

I

C

B

B

B

B

B

B

Structural integrity 

P

B

B

B

B

B

B

B

I

B

B

B

B

B

B

B

Reliability 

P

B

B

B

B

B

B

A

I

B

B

B

B

B

B

B

Equipment qualification

P

B

B

B

B

B

B

B

I

B

B

C

B

B

B

B

Emergency preparedness

P

A

A

A

A

A

A

A

I

A

A

A

A

A

B

B

Environmental protection

P

B

B

B

B

B

B

B

I

B

B

B

B

B

B

B

Radiation protection

P

B

B

B

B

B

B

B

I

B

B

A

B

B

B

B

Site security

P

Protected

I

Protected

Safeguards

P

B

B

B

B

B

B

B

I

B

B

B

B

B

B

B

Legend:

P: Program I: Implementation

A = Exceeds requirements

B = Meets requirements

C = Below requirements

D = Significantly below requirements

E = Unacceptable

Note:

  • The Bruce and Pickering sites receive separate grades for their respective facilities: Bruce A and Bruce B, and Pickering A and Pickering B.

Did you know?

  • Canada has seven nuclear power plants:
    • Bruce Nuclear Generating Stations A and B: Bruce A has two operational reactors and two reactors undergoing refurbishment, while Bruce B has four operational reactors. Tiverton, Ontario
    • Pickering Nuclear Generating Stations A and B: Pickering A has two operational reactors and two reactors that are no longer operating, while Pickering B has four operational reactors. Pickering, Ontario
    • Darlington Nuclear Generating Station: Darlington has four operational reactors. Bowmanville, Ontario
    • Gentilly-2 Nuclear Generating Station Gentilly-2 has one operational reactor. Bécancour, Québec
    • Point Lepreau Nuclear Generating Station Point Lepreau has one reactor undergoing refurbishment. Point Lepreau, New Brunswick
  • The 2007 International Atomic Energy Agency projections indicate that nuclear electricity generation may grow by 15 to 45% by 2020 and by 25 to 95% by 2030. The number of nuclear power reactors is predicted to increase by up to 60% and associated fuel cycle facilities by up to 45% by 2030. (Yury Sokolov, International Atomic Energy Agency, Deputy Director General, Head of the Department of Nuclear Energy)
  • Antoine Henri Becquerel discovered natural radioactivity in 1896, when he placed uranium-rich minerals wrapped in black paper on a photographic plate. When developed, the plates revealed an image of the crystals, leading Becquerel to conclude that they emitted radiation that penetrated the opaque paper. This discovery influenced the work of Marie and Pierre Curie, who shared the 1903 Nobel prize in physics with Becquerel for their work.
  • X-ray technology was invented in 1895 by a German physicist named Wilhelm Roentgen, who made the discovery while experimenting with electron beams in a gas discharge tube.
  • Radioisotopes are used in many medical areas such as sterilizing medical equipment, examining patients, and treating cancer and other ailments.
  • Many old timepieces have dials painted with radium to make them glow in the dark. Tritium is now commonly used to obtain the same effect. Tritium is also radioactive, but emits low-energy radiation that cannot penetrate the lens of the timepiece.
  • During the 1950s, Canada was instrumental in forming the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) under the auspices of the United Nations. Canada has been a member of the IAEA's Board of Governors since 1957.
  • Since 1945, Canada has cooperated internationally to help eliminate the use of nuclear materials for weapons, and to promote its peaceful uses.
  • Can manufacturers use radioisotopes to obtain the proper thickness of tin and aluminum. Radioisotopes are also used to check whether containers like beer cans, soda cans or paint cans are filled to the proper levels. Other industrial applications of radioisotopes include detecting fractures in jet engines and providing emergency lighting in exit signs.
  • Canada has four operational uranium mines:
    • Key Lake
      Saskatchewan
    • McArthur River
      Saskatchewan
    • Rabbit Lake
      Saskatchewan
    • McClean Lake
      Saskatchewan
  • Nuclear energy is an important component of Canada's diversified energy supply. Nuclear power stations generate heat by splitting atoms of a type of uranium known as U-235. The heat is used to produce steam that turns large turbines, which in turn produce electricity.
  • Canada is the world's largest uranium producer: 80% of its uranium is exported, accounting for 30% of global production.
  • Uranium ore, a naturally occurring element, is used for fuel at nuclear power plants, but must first be processed. Canada has five licensed uranium processing and fuel fabrication facilities.