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Opening remarks by Ramzi Jammal at the CANDU Senior Regulator's Meeting

A photo of Ramzi Jammal giving his opening remarks at the CANDU Senior Regulators’ Meeting

Monday, November 16, 2015

Toronto, Canada

Good morning. My name is Ramzi Jammal and I am the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission’s Executive Vice-President and Chief Regulatory Operations Officer. It is a great pleasure to welcome you to Canada. I’d like extend a warm welcome to new participants and welcome back colleagues to this edition of the CANDU Senior Regulators’ Meeting.

I would also like to take this opportunity to congratulate Mr. Gabril Petre for his recent appointment as President of the Romanian National Commission for Nuclear Activities Control.

The CANDU Senior Regulators’ Meeting in Canada presents another opportunity to exchange regulatory and operational CANDU experiences among the national regulatory bodies of (seven) countries that own and operate CANDU-type reactors. The meeting’s main objective is to improve safety and enhance regulatory effectiveness.

This venue is unique in that it’s the only one where CANDU countries share CANDU-related regulatory experiences and practices. The IAEA places high importance on this forum’s outcome and encourages all CANDU members to participate. The attendance of all CANDU countries here is a testimony to this meeting’s importance and many benefits.

This forum enables us to identify regulatory challenges, good practices, emerging trends and potential safety issues. It also gives us a single voice at international conventions and allows us to harmonize our regulatory approaches – for example, with the lessons learned from Fukushima, periodic safety reviews and probabilistic safety assessments.

Unlike the pressurized water reactor community, the CANDU community is a small one. To explain the CANDU technology to others beyond our sphere, we have recently used venues like the Sixth Review Meeting and Second Extraordinary Meeting to the Convention on Nuclear Safety. The European Stress Test, post-Fukushima, was another vehicle for Romania to explain CANDU safety features and behaviour during a severe accident. These are opportunities we should continue to seek in the future.

Throughout the week, I encourage you all to engage in the discussions and share your experience in safety areas of common interest to CANDU-operating countries, whether in response to the Fukushima nuclear event, or our aging fleet and the need for life extension or refurbishment projects.

Once again, this year’s proposed agenda covers important issues, including some key safety areas that are important or specific to CANDU.

One of these areas is the fuel channel life management of CANDU pressure tubes, and the assumed design life of 210,000 effective full-power hours of operation

Another key topic we will cover is probabilistic safety assessment (PSA). I understand there is an existing CANDU PSA Working Group to collaborate on this methodology. We have a very important need to consider PSA issues specific to CANDU – particularly the methodology for whole-site PSA, including spent fuel pool events as part of PSA and multi-unit events.

Source term assessment methodology is also on our agenda. Given that the CANDU design differs from pressurized water reactors, CANDU countries need their own common methodology.

We’ll also cover radiological impact assessment and measures to eliminate land contamination. I would like to share some highlights of a recent Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission study that examined hypothetical severe nuclear accidents, their potential consequences and the effectiveness of mitigation measures against such accidents. This study was done to address concerns raised during public hearings in December 2012 for a Canadian CANDU refurbishment project. I’ll also discuss feedback on this study from the public and NGOs, who challenged the severity of the accident analyzed – claiming it was not an INES scale 7 accident and that dose assumptions were unrealistic.

Finally, another key topic on the agenda is emergency response, along with short-term and long-term offsite evacuations. We’ll discuss the distribution of potassium iodide pills in Canada to primary zones of 10, 20 and 50 kilometres. We will also talk about the criteria for the transition from emergency to recovery, although this is not particularly restricted to CANDU. Also on the subject of emergency response is the recent Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission hearing for the Darlington licence renewal, where the public expressed great concern about how to avoid consuming contaminated food if a nuclear accident ever happened.

I’d like to say a few words about the Seventh Review Meeting of the Convention on Nuclear Safety, or CNS. As you may know, I was elected by the Contracting Parties as President of the 7th CNS Review Meeting. I will strongly encourage Contracting Parties to work actively to fulfill their obligations – by writing high-quality national reports, reporting on the implementation of recommendations from IRRS Missions, participating in the Convention peer-review process and making national reports publicly available. This would be a testimony of the leadership of CANDU countries, by demonstrating a strong commitment to enhancing the accountability and the transparency of the nuclear safety regime.

On a related note, at the last CNS Review Meeting, CANDU countries held a special session to present the Fukushima upgrades implemented at CANDU nuclear power plants. I propose to do the same at the upcoming Seventh Review Meeting.

As you can see, we have many issues to address during the week. I will be with you today and tomorrow to hear highlights from all countries. My colleague Barclay Howden, the Director General of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission’s Directorate of Power Reactor Regulation, will be with you during the entire week. He will be available, along with technical specialists via telephone or videoconference, to assist with any agenda items and answer any questions you might have.

Thank you. I wish us all a successful meeting.

I will now turn to Ms. Adriana Nicic from the IAEA for her opening remarks.

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