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Reportable event a Whiteshell Laboratories

May 15, 2023

Mr. Kerry Rod
WL Licence Holder/General Manager,
Whiteshell Laboratories Closure Project
Whiteshell Laboratories
Canadian Nuclear Laboratories Ltd.
1 Ara Mooradian Way
Pinawa, MB
R0E 1L0

Subject: Request pursuant to subsection 12(2) of the General Nuclear Safety and Control Regulations - Discovery of Non-Compliances in the Whiteshell Fire Protection Program

Dear Mr. Rod:

This letter is a request made pursuant to subsection 12(2) of the General Nuclear Safety and Control Regulations. Based on information reported to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) Duty Officer by Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) on April 27, 2023, CNL identified a number of non-compliances in the Whiteshell Laboratories (WL) fire protection program over the course of focused self-assessment against the requirements set out in CSA N393, Fire protection for facilities that process, handle, or store nuclear substances [1].

In accordance with Licence Condition G.1 of NRTEDL-W5-8.00/2024, [2] and Section G.1 of Licence Condition Handbooks, [3] licensed activities shall be conducted in accordance with the licensing basis. CSA N393, Fire protection for facilities that process, handle, or store nuclear substances is a licensing basis document.

On May 1, 2023, pursuant to REGDOC-3.1.2, Reporting Requirements, Volume I: Non-Power Reactor Class I Nuclear Facilities and Uranium Mines and Mills, CNL submitted a preliminary report [2] of the event. In its report, CNL provided details of the non-compliances:

  • fire fighter training was not up to date,
  • issues with documentation related to instructions for apparatus and fire response equipment,
  • inspection, testing and maintenance not performed as required.

These failures raise significant concern on the current fire posture at WL Laboratories, as the licensing basis for the fire protection program are not met as required by the WL licence [2] and licence condition handbook [3].

Pursuant to my authority as a person authorized by the Commission for the purposes of subsection 12(2) of the General Nuclear Safety and Control Regulations (GNSCR), I request that CNL:

  1. Conduct a Root Cause Analysis (RCA) for this event and submit the complete RCA to the CNSC.
  2. Conduct a review of the WL organizational structure to confirm it is effective and clearly identifies the roles and responsibilities for fire protection; and that responsibilities are clearly set out and understood.
  3. Conduct a third-party review of the fire protection program as required by CSA N393 and submit the complete results of the review to the CNSC.
  4. Conduct a review of past fire audits or assessments and analyze how recommendations were implemented or dispositioned appropriately and submit complete results of the review to the CNSC.
  5. For WL, conduct a review of effective management of all Safety and Control Areas and submit the complete results to the CNSC.
  6. For all other CNL licensed sites, undertake an analysis of the extent of condition with regards to fire safety and submit the complete results to the CNSC.
  7. Commit that all actions identified in the RCA will be implemented and evaluated for effectiveness prior to resuming normal site operations.
  8. Conduct a review to demonstrate that the current fire posture at WL meets requirements as detailed in CSA N393, for responding to interior and exterior fire; including confidence that the Minimum Shift Complement in place is effective for safe fire response.

CNL shall submit its response in writing by no later than May 19, 2023. In accordance with subsection 12(2) of the GNSCR, CNL’s response shall include the following:

  • (a) confirmation that the request will or will not be carried out or will be carried out in part;
  • (b) any action that CNL has taken to carry out the request or any part of it;
  • (c) any reasons why the request or any part of it will not be carried out;
  • (d) any proposed alternative means to achieve the objectives of the request; and
  • (e) any proposed alternative period within which CNL proposes to carry out the request.

As part of a graduated enforcement plan, failure to act and/or respond to a request under subsection 12(2) of the GNSCR may lead to further enforcement action.

If you have any questions related to this matter, please do not hesitate to contact Kim Campbell, Director, Canadian Nuclear Laboratories Regulatory Program Division, by email at or by phone at 613-295-6143.

Your sincerely,

Kavita Murthy, M.Sc.
Director General
Directorate of Nuclear Cycle and Facilities Regulation

c.c.: CNL – J. McBrearty, R. Swartz, A. Tisler, S. Brewer, C. Gallagher, P. Stalker, G. Snell, A. Bilton, A. Stelko, W. Graydon, C. Clark, J. Willman, >CR Licensing, >SRC, >Management System

CNSC – R. Jammal, P. Elder, K. Campbell, K. Ross, M. Herod, R. Tennant, L. Nicolai, H. Shalabi, W. Islam, M. Abdo, C. Houldsworth, S. Yao, R. Obuchi, M. Snow, S. MacDougall, P. Igric, C. Francoise, >CNLRPD Site Office


  1. DUTY OFFICER NOTIFICATION – Non-Compliances found in the fire protection program, April 27, 2023
  2. Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, Nuclear Research and Test Establishment Decommissioning Licence, Whiteshell Laboratories, Licence No. NRTEDL-W5-8.00/2024, Expiry Date: December 31, 2024
  3. CNSC LCH, Whiteshell Laboratories Nuclear Research and Test Establishment Decommissioning Licence NRTEDL-W5-8.00/2024, NRTEDL-LCH-08.00/2024, Revision 0, issued January 24, 2019
  4. Preliminary Event Report titled “HSSE-23-1212 - Record of Preliminary Verbal Report - WL Fire Response Non-Compliance, May 1, 2023

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