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Section F - Other General Safety Provisions

Section F - Other General Safety Provisions

F.1 Scope of the section

This section addresses Articles 21 (Responsibility of the Licence Holder) to 26 (Decommissioning) of the Joint Convention. It provides information about the steps Canada takes to meet its obligations for general safety at the national and facility levels. This section addresses requirements of several IAEA Standards. These include:

Article 21 - Responsibility of the Licence Holder - IAEA Safety Standard GS-R-1

Article 22 - Human and Financial Resources - IAEA Safety Standard GS-R-1

Article 23 - Quality Assurance - IAEA Safety Standards GS-R-1, WS-R-1 and Safety Series 50-C/SG-Q

Article 24 - Operational Radiation Protection - IAEA Safety Standard 115

Article 25 - Emergency Preparedness - IAEA Safety Standard GS-R-2

Article 26 - Decommissioning - IAEA Safety Standard WS-R-2 and Safety Guide WS-G-2.4

F.2 Responsibility of the licence holder

Each licensee in Canada has the prime responsibility for the safety of its spent fuel and radioactive waste management facilities. This responsibility includes providing adequate human and financial resources to support the safe management of the spent fuel and radioactive waste management facility over its lifespan.

F.3 Human resources

Adequate human resources are defined as the employment of enough qualified staff to carry out all normal activities without undue stress or delay, including the supervision of work done by external contractors. Section 44(1)(k) of the NSCA provides the legislative basis for the qualification, training and examination of personnel. Sections 12(1)(a) and 12(1)(b) of the General Nuclear Safety and Control Regulations specify that the licensee must ensure the presence of a sufficient number of trained, qualified workers.

As in the case of many countries with mature nuclear programs, the nuclear sector and the CNSC have both faced challenges in recent years recruiting experienced personnel, partly due to an aging Canadian population. The sections below outline initiatives the parties have taken to develop sufficient human resources to ensure the long-term sustainability of the workforce.

F.3.1 University Network of Excellence in Nuclear Engineering

The University Network of Excellence in Nuclear Engineering (UNENE) is an alliance of Canadian universities, nuclear power utilities, and research and regulatory agencies working to support and develop nuclear education, and research and development capability in Canadian universities. UNENE was established in July 2002. Its purpose is to assure a sustainable supply of qualified nuclear engineers and scientists that can meet the current and future needs of the national nuclear sector. It accomplishes this through university education and university-based education, and by encouraging young people to choose a career in the nuclear sector. More information is available online at

The alliance consists of 10 universities and several industrial partners (Candu Owners Group, OPG, Bruce Power, AECL, the CNSC and Nuclear Safety Solutions).

Funding has been committed towards the support of engineering programs, and education and research in nuclear engineering at the following universities:

  • Queen's University,
  • University of Toronto,
  • McMaster University,
  • University of Waterloo,
  • University of Western Ontario, and
  • University of Ontario Institute of Technology

The funds will create six Research Chairs, and sponsor up to 100 students in Masters and Ph.D level programs. In addition, NWMO has committed funding to a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) research chair in nuclear fuel and waste containers research at the University of Western Ontario.


The CANTEACH program was established by AECL, OPG, the CANDU Owners Group, Bruce Power, McMaster University, École Polytechnique, and the Canadian Nuclear Society to meet succession planning requirements. The aim of CANTEACH is to develop, maintain and electronically disseminate a comprehensive set of education and training documents. The CNSC and other industry members are also contributing information to the program. More information is available online at CNSC

F.3.3 OPG

OPG's Nuclear Waste Management Division currently comprises approximately 300 full-time employees. Staffing demand has increased over the past three years and is expected to continue increasing, primarily due to attrition from retirements. From 2005 to June, 2008, OPG recruited 36 positions (2005), 27 positions (2006), 72 positions (2007) and 41 positions (January to June, 2008). The 2007 increase in recruitment was primarily due to staffing of the new facilities at Darlington Waste Management Facility, combined with attrition at the other nuclear waste facilities. Staff for the skilled and semi-skilled trades has been recruited from within OPG with an increasing emphasis on the external labour marketplace. Technical and engineering positions have been primarily from external sources, with a mixture of experienced candidates and approximately five new university graduates per year, hired through the University Graduate Training Program.

Nuclear Waste Management Division has introduced - or is in the process of introducing - the following recruitment and retention strategies:

  • Succession Management: Assessment of leadership capabilities and succession replacement planning for all leadership positions,
  • New Grad Trainee Program: A two-year rotational program with mentorship for university graduates in engineering, technical and business-related disciplines,
  • Advance Hiring: Critical positions in the organization are identified in our succession-management program,
  • Bench strength has been assessed with recommendations to advance, hire or develop new grads in advance of forecasted attrition,
  • Development and Co-op Student Program: Each semester recruit two to four university or college students in technical and business streams for work terms. A number of these co-op students upon graduation are hired in the New Grad Training Program,
  • Skilled Trade Apprenticeship: Ontario Power Generation organizes and maintains a skilled apprenticeship trades hiring and placement program. Nuclear Waste Management Division has access to this program on an as needed basis, and
  • Semi-Skilled Labour: Direct hire from community impact areas.

With continued emphasis on succession management, workforce planning and staff development, the Nuclear Waste Management Division is positively positioned to meet its qualified staffing requirements for both the short and long-term.

F.3.4 Nuclear Waste Management Organization

In January 2005, NWMO was a small study group consisting of 12 individuals, with a mandate under the NFWA to provide recommendations to the Government of Canada on the long-term management of spent fuel. The NWMO initiated its study in 2002 and presented its report and recommended approach to the Minister in November 2005. In June 2007, APM, the approach recommended by the NWMO, was selected by the Government of Canada and NWMO became responsible for implementing APM - subject to the necessary regulatory approvals.

In its new role, NWMO began to build a sustainable corporation with the necessary skills and capacity to manage Canada's spent fuel over the long term. In 2007, NWMO began to consolidate staff resources by hiring as permanent employees former NWMO contract staff as well as integrating into the organization many of the people who previously directed and managed Canada's technical research program for long-term spent fuel management. Ensuring NWMO viability also involved new permanent staff appointments in senior, intermediate, intern and support positions, with particular attention paid to succession planning.

In 2007 the new position of Vice President of Science and Technology was established. A manager of geoscience was hired along with a director of environment, a director of policy and planning and a manager of community relations. Three technical staff in geosciences, safety assessment and engineering also joined the organization. Two graduate trainees, one in engagement and communications and another in social research, were employed and administrative support was strengthened. Additional graduate trainees in the areas of engagement, social research and technology are being sought.

The organization recruited to fill several important functions that were formerly externally contracted. These included employing NWMO's own legal counsel to coordinate legal reviews and provide support for commercial contracts, protocol agreements, compliance requirements and labour-relations issues. A director of human resources was enlisted to manage recruitment, training and development, succession planning and labour relations issues. A director of communications was engaged to develop and implement a strategic approach to public communications.

For the NWMO to build an organization that is - and is seen to be - fully competent to carry out its mandate will require ongoing effort. By the end of 2007 NWMO's staffing levels had increased to 27 full-time equivalents from a core complement of 12 individuals a year earlier. This incremental strengthening and broadening of our capabilities will continue as needs are identified in the coming years.

F.4 Financial resources

F.4.1 General

Canada generally applies the polluter pays principle, by which the Government of Canada has clearly indicated that waste owners are financially responsible for the management of their radioactive waste, and has set in place mechanisms to ensure that this financial responsibility does not fall to the Canadian public. This position was reaffirmed in the 1996 Government of Canada Policy Framework for Radioactive Waste (refer to Annex B). In 2002, under the NFWA, the owners of spent fuel were specifically required to establish segregated funds to fully finance long-term waste management activities.

F.4.2 Historic waste

In instances where remedial actions are required at uranium mine and mill tailings facilities, but where the owner no longer exists, the Government of Canada and provincial governments ensure that the sites are safely decommissioned. In Ontario, home of the former Elliot Lake uranium mining complex, the Governments of Canada and the Province of Ontario entered into a Memorandum of Agreement in 1996 that outlined their respective roles in the management of abandoned uranium mine and mill tailings. Under the agreement, the costs associated with any necessary remediation at an abandoned site will be split between the two governments on a 50-50 basis. To date, these arrangements have not been necessary, as all Ontario sites have owners that are complying with their responsibilities.

In September 2006, the Governments of Canada and the Province of Saskatchewan entered into a Memorandum of Agreement that defines roles and responsibilities for the remediation of certain cold war era uranium mine sites (principally the Gunnar mine and mill site in northern Saskatchewan.) These sites were operated from the 1950s until the early 1960s by private sector companies that no longer exist. When the sites were closed, the regulatory framework in place was not sufficient to ensure appropriate waste treatment and containment, which has led to environmental impacts on local soils and lakes. On April 2, 2007, the Government of Canada and the Province of Saskatchewan announced the first phase of the cleanup. The total cost, which the Governments of Canada and the Province of Saskatchewan will share, will be $24.6 million. A comprehensive environmental assessment of the project began on June 15, 2007.

F.4.3 Financial guarantees

Licensees of spent fuel and radioactive waste management facilities and uranium mines and mills must provide guarantees that adequate financial resources are available for decommissioning of these facilities and managing the resulting radioactive wastes, including spent fuel.

Section 24(5) of the NSCA provides the legislative basis for this requirement. Section 3(1)(l) of the GNSCR stipulates that "an application for a licence must contain a description of any proposed financial guarantee related to the activity for which a licence application is submitted." Regulatory Guide G-206, Financial Guarantees for the Decommissioning of Licensed Activities, covers the provision of financial guarantees for decommissioning activities. Regulatory Guide G-219, Decommissioning Planning for Licensed Activities, provides guidance on the preparation of plans for the decommissioning of activities licensed by the CNSC. These guides can be viewed at

Since the last reporting period, the CNSC personnel have continued to participate in the development of a CSA document on decommissioning nuclear facilities: CSA N294. This document is expected to be finalized in 2009. Additionally, the CNSC personnel are also participating in the development of an IAEA Safety Report comprising four volumes: safety assessment methodology, safety assessment for decommissioning of three test cases, graded approach to safety assessment for decommissioning, and a regulatory review to safety assessment for decommissioning. The safety report is scheduled for publication in 2008.

Financial guarantees must be sufficient to fund all approved decommissioning activities. These activities include not only dismantling, decontamination and closure, but also any post-decommissioning monitoring or institutional control measures that may be required, as well as subsequent long-term management or disposal of all wastes, including spent fuel. In order to ensure that licensees are required to cover the costs of spent fuel only once, the money in the trust funds set up under the NFWA is considered part of the licensee's total financial guarantee to the CNSC.

The CNSC must be assured that it (or its agents) can access adequate funding measures upon demand, if a licensee is not available to fulfill its obligations for decommissioning. Measures to fund decommissioning may involve various types of financial guarantees. Acceptable guarantees include: cash, letters of credit, surety bonds, insurance, and legally binding commitments from a government (either federal or provincial). The acceptability of any of the above measures will be determined ultimately by the CNSC according to the following general criteria:

  • Liquidity - The proposed funding measures should be such that the financial vehicle can be drawn upon only with the approval of the CNSC and that payout for decommissioning purposes is not prevented, unduly delayed or compromised for any reason,
  • Certainty of Value - Licensees should select funding, security instruments and arrangements that provide full assurance of their value,
  • Adequacy of Value - Funding measures should be sufficient, at all or predetermined points in time, to fund the decommissioning plans for which they are intended, and
  • Continuity - The required funding measures for decommissioning should be maintained on a continuing basis. This may require periodic renewals, revisions, and replacements of securities provided or issued for fixed terms. For example, during a licence renewal the Preliminary Decommissioning Plan may be revised and the financial guarantee updated accordingly. Where necessary, to ensure that there is continuity of coverage, funding measures should include provisions for advance notice of termination or intent to not renew.

Since the last reporting period, the CNSC personnel have been working on the development of a new comprehensive policy concerning financial guarantees. While all major licensees with Class 1 operating facilities and uranium mines and mills have financial guarantees in place, the CNSC personnel are currently reviewing the need to broaden the application of financial assurances to all facilities and other licensed activities not currently required to post financial guarantees.

International opinion (IAEA, NEA) has evolved substantively over the last several years in this area. The CNSC Regulatory Guide G-206, Financial Guarantees for the Decommissioning of Licensed Activities, and draft Regulatory Policy P-319, Financial Guarantees for Nuclear Facilities and Licensed Activities, do not fully represent current international opinion.

The CNSC's personnel are considering the development of a revised policy and program for financial guarantees, to be developed in consultation with other government stakeholders. Such a policy would consider current international opinions. The CNSC's personnel will then develop a series of recommendations for the Commission Tibunal's consideration. If the Commission Tribunal accepts these recommendations, the CNSC's personnel will implement the new policy.

F.5 Quality assurance

NSCA regulations require licensees to prepare and implement Quality Assurance (QA) programs for nuclear facilities. The licensees of spent fuel and radioactive waste management facilities submit their overall QA programs when applying for their licences. The organization responsible for the facility must establish and implement a QA program for the items and services that they supply. The overall QA program may cover all sites licensed for that licensee.

For example, if a spent fuel and radioactive waste management facility is licensed by a nuclear power plant, the overall QA program established by the power plant may be applied to the spent fuel or radioactive waste management facility. This requirement is referenced as part of a licence condition.

Review of QA principles and programs for uranium mines must comply with the QA expectations of the NSCA and UMMR. After a licence is granted, the licensee and other organizations involved must fulfill QA requirements to the satisfaction of the CNSC. Reviews conducted by the CNSC personnel concentrate on the licensee's application of these standards and on its ability to:

  • consistently define roles and responsibilities for the facility,
  • implement the QA program in a structured manner,
  • demonstrate control changes and program interactions, and
  • self-assess and take corrective action.

F.5.1 QA program assessment

To assess licensee QA programs, the CNSC personnel examine the results from the licensees' internal reviews and audits. They also perform detailed reviews of the documents that communicate the QA program requirements to licensee personnel. After the QA program is found to be acceptable, the CNSC plans and carries out real time performance based audits, to ensure that the licensee complies with its provisions. When deficiencies are detected, the CNSC produces detailed reports of the audit findings and forwards them to the licensee for response and corrective action. The CNSC may decide an enforcement action is appropriate. Section E.6.4 provides further information on the CNSC Compliance Enforcement.

F.6 Operational radiation protection

F.6.1 Requirements for doses so they are consistent with ALARA

Operations at Canada's spent fuel and radioactive waste management facilities must be carried out to ensure that doses to workers, the public and the environment are as low as reasonably achievable, economic and social factors taken into account (the ALARA principle). This approach is legislatively supported through the NSCA and the RPR. Doses are minimized through practices such as:

  • management control over work practices,
  • personnel qualification and training,
  • control of occupational and public exposure to radiation,
  • planning for unusual circumstances, and
  • ascertaining the quantity and concentration of any nuclear substance released as a result of a licensed activity.

In support of this requirement, Regulatory Guide G-129 rev 1, Guidelines on How to Meet the Requirements to Keep All Exposures As Low As Reasonably Achievable, was issued by the CNSC in October 2004.

F.6.2 Derived release limits

Some nuclear facilities release small quantities of gaseous radioactive material in a controlled manner into the atmosphere (e.g. incineration of radioactive waste) and into adjoining water bodies as liquid effluents (e.g. treated wastewater). Radioactive material released from nuclear facilities into the environment through gaseous and liquid effluents can result in radiation doses to members of the public, through:

  • direct irradiation,
  • inhalation of contaminated air, or
  • ingestion of contaminated food or water.

Doses received by members of the public through routine releases from nuclear facilities are very low - almost always too low to measure directly. Therefore, to ensure that the public dose limit is not exceeded, the RPR limits the amount of radioactive material released in effluents from nuclear facilities. These effluent limits are derived from the public dose limit, and are referred to as derived release limits or DRLs. The nuclear sector sets operating targets or administrative limits that are typically a small percentage of the derived release limits. These targets are based on the ALARA principle and are unique to each facility, depending on the factors that exist at each site.

When approving DRLs for nuclear facilities, the CNSC considers the environmental pathways through which radioactive material could reach the most exposed members of the public - also known as the critical group - after being released from the facility. Members of the critical group are those individuals expected to receive the highest dose of radiation because of their age, diet, lifestyle and location.

F.6.3 Action levels

Licensees are required, through the RPR, to establish action levels. An action level is a specific level that, if reached, may indicate a loss of control of part of the radiation protection program. When an action level is reached, the following actions must be taken:

  • notify the CNSC,
  • investigate to establish the cause, and
  • take action to restore the effectiveness of the radiation protection program.

Regulatory Guide G-228, Developing and Using Action Levels, has been published by the CNSC to help licensees develop action levels in accordance with section 6 of the RPR.

F.6.4 Dosimetry

The CNSC requires that every licensee ascertain and record the magnitude of exposure to workers by direct measurement or monitoring, or, in cases where this is not possible, by estimation. If a nuclear energy worker has a reasonable probability of receiving an effective dose of greater than 5 mSv, the licensee is required to use a licensed dosimetry service. Dosimetry services are also licensed by the CNSC under the radiation protection regulations. Requirements for licensing are found in S-106 rev.1, Technical and Quality Assurance Requirements for Dosimetry Services (March 2006).

F.6.5 Preventing unplanned releases

The nuclear sector uses several means to reduce the risk of unplanned effluent releases of radioactive material into the environment: multiple barriers, reliable components and systems, competent staff and the detection and correction of failures.

Owing to the robust design of storage facilities housing high-risk materials such as spent fuel, the potential for a significant release is present mainly when materials are handled. Such operations are closely monitored by licensee staff, which would be available in the unlikely event of an accidental release. The process of transferring waste from the point of origin to a storage site is subject to stringent control and is only done in the safest possible manner. Some of these controls involve prohibiting the transfer of spent fuel during periods of rain or snow and transporting the spent fuel at extremely low speeds.

In the event of an uncontrolled release into the environment, competent licensee staff is available for an initial mop-up exercise, preventing further spread of radioactive contaminants. If necessary, the stored waste may be retrieved and held more securely. Depending on the magnitude and seriousness of the release, emergency procedures and emergency preparedness (EP) plans may be activated.

F.6.6 Protection of the environment

Regulatory Policy P-223, Protection of the Environment, describes the philosophy, principles and fundamental factors that guide the Commission Tribunal as it regulates the following: the production and use of nuclear energy, and the production, possession and use of nuclear substances, prescribed equipment and prescribed information. These are regulated in order to prevent unreasonable risk to the environment, in a manner consistent with Canadian environmental policies, acts and regulations, and with Canada's international obligations. This policy applies to all regulatory decisions made by the Commission Tribunal or the CNSC personnel. P-223 applies to all types of the CNSC licenses, including decommissioning.

Regulatory Standard S-296, Developing Environmental Protection Policies, Programs and Procedures at Class 1 Nuclear Facilities and Uranium Mines and Mills (March 2006), sets out the environmental protection policies, programs and procedures that licensees shall implement at uranium mines and mills and Class I nuclear facilities - which include spent fuel and radioactive waste management facilities - when required by the applicable licence or other legally enforceable instrument.

The requirements of an Environmental Management System (EMS) include the following tasks:

  • establish, implement and maintain an EMS that meets the requirements set by the Canadian Standards Association's ISO 14001:2004, Environmental Management Systems - Requirements with Guidance for Use. Certification to ISO 14001 by an authorized registrar or other independent third party is not considered by the CNSC as meeting the requirements of this standard. The CNSC, in exercising its responsibilities as outlined in the NSCA, will evaluate all licensees' programs in relation to the requirements of this standard,
  • ensure that the scope of the EMS is consistent with the definitions of 'environment', 'environmental effect' and 'pollution prevention', as provided in the Glossary of S-296,
  • conduct internal audits (clause 4.5.5 of ISO 14001:2004) at planned intervals so that all elements of the EMS are audited on at least a five-year cycle, and
  • conduct a management review (clause 4.6 of ISO 14001:2004) annually.

The supporting Regulatory Guide G-296, Developing Environmental Protection Policies, Programs and Procedures at Class 1 Nuclear Facilities and Uranium Mines and Mills, was released in 2006, along with S-296. The purpose of this regulatory document is to help applicants seeking a licence for Class I nuclear facilities and uranium mines and mills (other than a licence to abandon) to develop and implement environmental protection policies, programs and procedures in accordance with the NSCA and its associated regulations. G-296 outlines the scope of an EMS, recognizing that the complexity of the EMS documentation should be appropriate for the nature and scale of the environmental effects that may result from licensed activities. ISO 14001, with a few additional the CNSC-specific requirements, is the basis for the CNSC Regulatory Standard S-296 and may be incorporated in a licence as a legal requirement. For all licences, the information provided in G-296, along with ISO 14001 and ISO 14004, can be used to develop an EMS that will meet the CNSC requirements for policies, programs and procedures in environmental protection.

In a manner that is appropriate for the facility type and phase of licensing, the EMS should include the proposed measures to control the release of nuclear substances, hazardous substances, or both, into the environment, and the measures that will be taken to mitigate the effect.

In terms of releases, the EMS should be commensurate with overall regulatory requirements, the specific information provided on the proposed location of points of release, the proposed maximum quantities and concentrations, and the anticipated volume and flow rate of releases of nuclear substances and hazardous substances into the environment, including their physical, chemical and radiological characteristics.

In terms of wastes, the EMS should be commensurate with overall regulatory requirements and the specific information provided on the name, quantity, form, origin and volume of any radioactive waste or hazardous waste that may result from the activity to be licensed. This includes waste that may be stored, managed, processed or disposed of at the site of the activity to be licensed, and the proposed method(s) for managing and disposing of that waste. For uranium mines and mills, there is a further requirement to address management of the anticipated liquid and solid waste streams within the mine or mill, including:

  • the ingress of fresh water and any diversion or control of uncontaminated surface and ground water,
  • the anticipated quantities, composition and characteristics of backfill, and
  • the proposed waste management system.

As a further consideration, the EMS should address environmental emergency preparedness and response by dealing with the following issues:

  • proposing measures to prevent or mitigate the effects of accidental releases of nuclear substances and hazardous substances on the environment, and
  • proposing measures for the health and safety of persons.

Reporting requirements for certain emergency situations should also be included in the EMS. Lastly, additional elements relating to worker training or qualifications, and the environmental protection obligations of workers, should be included. Training programs should enable workers to meet their obligations with respect to environmental protection.

Monitoring and Measurement

Licensees should establish procedures to measure, monitor and evaluate environmental performance relative to the performance indicators and targets they have set to achieve their environmental objectives. Measurement and evaluation are the best way to verify whether the controls placed on contaminants are effective. For licensees to achieve their performance targets it is important that the overall monitoring process include continual feedback mechanisms. Such mechanisms enable licensees to take appropriate action when necessary. Monitoring should be conducted on a spatial and temporal scale and reflect the environmental effects predicted in an environmental assessment.

Effluent monitoring should be the primary indicator of performance in terms of releases to air, surface waters, groundwater and soil. Effluent monitoring addresses both the nature and quantity of releases of nuclear and hazardous substances (including wastes). Monitoring schedules should be controlled administratively to help prevent situations that might lead to unreasonable risk for the environment. Targets should be designed that will prompt investigations - and thus lead to preventive measures - when situations are abnormal.

As part of a Code of Practice for Uranium Mines and Mills, certain performance targets (action levels) must be developed to protect the environment. These should address how releases at the source are managed. All facilities require action levels for the radiation protection program. Although specific to radiation protection, Regulatory Guides G-218 Preparing Codes of Practice to Control Radiation Doses at Uranium Mines and Mills and G-228 Developing and Using Action Levels provide useful generic guidance on the principles underlying action levels. These principles, along with ALARA (as outlined in Regulatory Guide G-129 rev 1, Guidelines on How to Meet the Requirements to Keep All Exposures As Low As Reasonably Achievable) should be used to develop targets for environmental performance.

Class I nuclear facilities do not require a Code of Practice for environmental protection. However, licensees of Class I nuclear facilities should ensure their operations can control releases that are potentially harmful. The development of administrative controls typically requires modeling of environmental pathways, in order to derive release targets that can be interpreted in terms of levels in environmental media. These levels are chosen to protect the environment as a whole, with adequate safety margins. The Canadian Environmental Quality Guidelines provide practical guidance on levels that are thought to be sufficiently protective. Alternatively, levels can be derived from assessments performed under the CEA Act, the CEPA, or the NSCA.

Facilities that may potentially expose the public to releases are also expected to develop Derived Release Limits (DRLs), historically referred to as Derived Emission Limits (DELs). Facilities calculate DRLs through multimedia pathways modeling; DRLs represent estimates of releases that could result in doses to the public that equal the prescribed public limit (for effective dose of 1 mSv) or equivalent dose limits. If not referenced in the EMS as part of licensing documentation, DRLs may be incorporated separately as a licence condition.

Environmental Monitoring (CSA Revised Standard N288.4)

With the promulgation of the NSCA in 2000, protection of the environment (as opposed to the previous human-focused legislation) from both radionuclides and hazardous substances also became the responsibility of the CNSC. The present CSA document N-288.4, Radiological Monitoring of the Environment, issued in 1990, addresses only the monitoring of potential radiological contaminants in the environment through pathways for humans. Therefore, it was recognized that a revised environmental monitoring standard/guide is required. The CNSC personnel are working with the CSA to develop a revised version of N288.4 that will address radiological, conventional (i.e. hazardous substances) and physical stressors and pathways for both human and non-human biota. This document will be targeted to Class 1 nuclear facilities and uranium mines and mills and is expected to be completed by the next reporting period in 2011.

F.6.7 Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission activities

To verify compliance with the requirements of a licence and regulations, the CNSC personnel:

  • review documentation and operational reports submitted by licensees,
  • conduct radiation protection evaluations, and
  • conduct evaluations of licensee environmental-protection programs and other programs as required.

A detailed description of the Compliance Verification Program is provided in section E.6.3.

F.7 Nuclear emergency management

Nuclear emergency preparedness and response in Canada is a multi-jurisdictional responsibility shared by all levels of government and the licensees. In emergency situations, licensees are responsible for protecting health, safety, security and the environment by preventing or mitigating the effects of accidental releases of nuclear or hazardous substances. Licensees must also respect Canada's international commitments on the peaceful use of nuclear energy. The provinces and territories have primary responsibility to implement measures for civil protection and offsite nuclear emergency preparedness and response; this includes designating municipalities to carry out nuclear emergency planning within their jurisdictions.

The Government of Canada is responsible, through the Federal Nuclear Emergency Plan (FNEP), for coordinating federal actions that support provinces and territories during a nuclear or radiological emergency. It must also respond to emergencies that have international implications. The FNEP outlines the federal government's role in such situations, how it must be organized and its capability to respond to a nuclear emergency. Health Canada, as the lead department, is responsible for coordinating the federal nuclear emergency response of more than 14 departments and six federal agencies, including the CNSC. These organizations each have distinct roles and responsibilities, making a structured framework essential. The FNEP provides this structure.

The CNSC employed a collaborative approach in developing its Nuclear Emergency Management (NEM) policy and upgraded programs. NEM was developed in partnership with external stakeholders and has included extensive consultations with licensees, the public and provincial, territorial, municipal and federal government organizations involved in emergency management.

The CNSC's NEM policy provides the foundation for all the CNSC emergency management activities. Specifically, it outlines responses consistent with the risks at hand, clarifies roles and responsibilities, and helps maintain current capacity while taking future requirements into consideration. In addition to developing the Policy Nuclear Emergency Management (P-325), it has also identified key elements of an improved nuclear emergency management program. Furthermore, it is developing emergency plans and procedures.

The CNSC Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) has recently been reorganized to increase its reliability and functionality and to enhance its back-up resources. It has conducted extensive training with its staff and with other Government of Canada departments on their roles, responsibilities, procedures and emergency response to radiological and nuclear related events. It has undertaken a wide variety of activities, from the installation of an emergency power generator at the CNSC headquarters (to maintain the CNSC's capacity in the event of a power outage) to reactivating a federal-provincial-territorial committee on radiological/nuclear emergencies.

The CNSC requires licence applicants to assess the impacts of their proposed activities on health, safety, security and the environment, and to propose measures to prevent or mitigate the effects of accidental releases of nuclear or hazardous substances. Once the CNSC has reviewed and accepted these measures, they become binding upon the licensee. Due to the variety of risk among radioactive waste facilities in Canada, some facilities require detailed emergency preparedness and response plans while others require internal emergency procedures only.

The CNSC maintains its regulatory role and responsibilities by directly overseeing licensees' response actions. It also provides technical and advisory support to the provincial, territorial and federal authorities through the FNEP. These responsibilities encompass a wide range of contingency and response measures to prevent, correct or mitigate accidents, spills, abnormal situations and emergencies.

Ontario, where 20 of 22 of Canada's reactors and the largest nuclear waste management facility are located, named its first Commissioner of Emergency Management in 2004. The Commissioner's role is to:

  • oversee Ontario's emergency planning and preparedness,
  • monitor emergency situations in other jurisdictions to ensure the entire province is prepared for similar situations,
  • work in partnership with the Government of Canada on the co-location of an emergency management centre,
  • lead the development of regulations to implement emergency management across key government ministries, and
  • assist in reviewing the current provincial Emergency Management Act and related legislation and regulations.

Québec has one reactor located at Gentilly near Trois-Rivières on the St. Lawrence River. L'Organisation de la sécurite civile du Québec (OSCQ) has led the emergency management effort for all hazards, including offsite nuclear emergencies. OSCQ has a plan in place, entitled "Plan des mesures d'urgence nucléaire externe à la centrale nucléaire de Gentilly-2". This plan is in accordance with the Québec Civil Protection Act provincial bill and defines the government agencies' responsibilities with specific objectives for minimizing consequences, protecting the public and providing support to the municipality.

New Brunswick has one reactor, located near Point Lepreau. The New Brunswick Emergency Measures Organization (NB EMO) coordinates emergency preparedness for New Brunswick's provincial and municipal governments. NB EMO works at the provincial and municipal levels through district coordinators to ensure that the province and its communities have appropriate and tested emergency plans. In addition, New Brunswick has invested significantly in provincial communications infrastructure to improve connectivity and harmonization with federal and provincial intervening organizations during a nuclear emergency.

Saskatchewan has several uranium mines in the northern part of its territory. The Saskatchewan Emergency Management Organization (SaskEMO) is the provincial government's lead agency for emergency management. SaskEMO coordinates overall provincial emergency planning, training and response operations for the safety of residents and the protection of property and the environment, before, during and after an emergency. Corrections and Public Safety is responsible for The Emergency Planning Act (November 1, 1989). The Emergency Planning Act contains provisions for emergency planning, emergency powers and disaster relief. Corrections and Public Safety, through SaskEMO, is the provincial government's lead agency for emergency management. SaskEMO supports community preparedness by encouraging the formation of local government emergency measures organizations, assisting in the development of location emergency plans and providing onsite consultation to municipal officials during government declared states of emergency. SaskEMO also supports provincial preparedness by maintaining the provincial government emergency plan and related contingencies, coordinating provincial government resources during a state of emergency, assisting government departments, Crown corporations and agencies with emergency planning, and coordinating with federal government emergency preparedness programs within Saskatchewan.

In Nova Scotia, many shipments containing radioactive substances enter and dock at the Port of Halifax. The Emergency Measures Act is Nova Scotia's emergency management and emergency-powers legislation. It establishes the rules for managing emergencies in Nova Scotia and it requires municipal governments to have emergency plans. The Nova Scotia Emergency Measures Organization (NS EMO) ensures the safety and security of residents of Nova Scotia, their property and environment by providing for a prompt and coordinated provincial and municipal response to an emergency. This is accomplished through cooperative and consultative planning before emergencies occur and by coordinating the provision of provincial resources to assist with the response. NS EMO facilitates and coordinates communication and emergency planning efforts between the various levels of government.

F.7.1 The CNSC's assessment of licensees' emergency management programs

The CNSC's personnel input and audit the emergency plans submitted by licensees. Spent fuel and radioactive waste management facilities submit emergency plans as part of their licence application, which the CNSC personnel review, according to regulatory criteria and guidance documents.

F.7.2 Types of nuclear emergencies

With respect to nuclear accident mitigation, emergency planning includes both onsite and offsite consequences, as described below:

  • onsite nuclear emergencies are those that occur within the physical boundaries of a nuclear facility licensed by the CNSC. The operators of those nuclear facilities are responsible for onsite emergency planning, preparedness and response.
  • offsite nuclear emergencies are events that occur outside licensed facilities, but may have originated from, or were associated with, a licensed facility or activity, and may even have originated from outside Canada. Events of this type will require intervention from provincial, territorial or municipal authorities operating outside of the licensed facility or activity and will likely require support from the licensee and the federal government (FNEP).

F.7.3 Federal government responsibilities

In the event of a nuclear emergency, the federal government is responsible for:

  • coordinating the federal response and providing support to provinces,
  • liaising with the international community,
  • liaising with diplomatic missions in Canada,
  • assisting Canadians abroad,
  • coordinating the national response to a nuclear emergency occurring in a foreign country and affecting Canadians, and
  • managing third-party nuclear liabilities.

As much as possible, the Government of Canada's emergency planning, preparedness and response is based on the all-hazards approach. However, because of the inherent technical nature and complexity of nuclear emergencies, hazard-specific planning, preparedness and response arrangements are required. These special arrangements, which are one component of the larger federal emergency management framework (described in Part 1 of Annex D of the National Support Planning Framework) constitute the FNEP. The FNEP describes the federal government's preparedness for nuclear emergencies and how it would coordinate the federal response.

Under the common administrative framework of the FNEP, the development and implementation of emergency preparedness and response plans for the offsite consequences of nuclear emergencies are primarily a provincial/territorial responsibility. However, there are also direct inputs from the local government, the nuclear facility and federal government departments and agencies (including the CNSC). This allows jurisdictions and organizations with various emergency-management responsibilities to act in a cooperative, complementary and coordinated manner.

The Government of Canada is responsible for managing a nuclear civil liability regime that addresses civil liability and compensation for injury and damage arising from nuclear incidents. This regime is established under the NLA and the CNSC designates certain nuclear facilities as coming within its scope. Typically, these are facilities where there is a risk of criticality. An operator of such an installation is absolutely and exclusively liable for any civil damages caused by an incident at that installation and carries mandatory insurance. In the event of a serious incident, the NLA provides special compensation measures that may be imposed by government to replace the normal court process. NRCan is the lead department for ensuring the process of compensation is well coordinated and administered in Canada.

F.7.4 International arrangements

Canada has signed and ratified the following three international emergency response conventions:

Canada-US Joint Radiological Emergency Response Plan (1996)

This plan focuses on emergency response measures of a radiological nature, rather than generic civil emergency measures. It is the basis for co-operative measures to deal with peacetime radiological events involving Canada, the United States or both countries. Cooperative measures contained in the FNEP are consistent with this plan.

Convention on Assistance in the Case of a Nuclear Accident or Radiological Emergency (1986)

This international assistance agreement, which was developed under the auspices of the IAEA, promotes cooperation between signatories and facilitates for prompt assistance in the event of a nuclear accident or radiological emergency. Its purpose is to minimize the consequences of such an accident, including to protect life, property and the environment. The agreement sets out how assistance is requested, provided, directed, controlled and terminated.

Convention on Early Notification of a Nuclear Accident (1987)

This international convention, which was developed under the auspices of the IAEA, defines when and how the IAEA would notify the signatories associated with an international event that could have an impact in their respective countries.

F.8 Decommissioning

In accordance with Regulatory Guide G-219, Decommissioning Planning for Licensed Activities, the CNSC requires that Class I facilities and uranium mines and mills licensees keep decommissioning plans up to date throughout the lifecycle of a licensed activity. The CNSC also requires that licensees prepare a preliminary decommissioning plan and detailed decommissioning plan for approval.

The preliminary decommissioning plan must be filed with the regulatory body as early as possible in the lifecycle of the activity or facility. In the case of nuclear facilities, specific requirements for decommissioning planning are set out in the CNSC regulations for uranium mines and mills, and Class I and Class II nuclear facilities.

The preliminary plan documents the preferred decommissioning strategy and objectives at the end of decommissioning. The plan should be sufficiently detailed to assure that the proposed approach is technically and financially feasible. It must also be in the interests of health, safety, security and protection of the environment. The plan defines areas to be decommissioned and the general structure and sequence of the principal decommissioning work packages envisioned.

The applicable regulations and Regulatory Guide can be viewed on the CNSC Web site at:

Decommissioning activities are listed in Annex 7. Decommissioning waste generated in the last reporting period is included in Section D.

F.8.1 Qualified staff and adequate financial resources

Section 24(5) of the NSCA legislates that licensees of nuclear facilities must guarantee that adequate financing and human resources will be available for the decommissioning of facilities and the management of resulting radioactive wastes, including spent fuel. Section 3(1)(l) of the GNSCR states that, "An application for a licence shall contain a description of any proposed financial guarantee relating to the activity to be licensed." Section F.4.3 describes the financial guarantees applicable to the decommissioning process. Section 44(1)(k) of the NSCA provides the legislative basis for the qualification, training and examination of personnel. Sections 12(1)(a) and 12(1)(b) of the GNSCR specify that the licensee must ensure the presence of a sufficient number of trained qualified workers.

F.8.2 Operational radiation protection, discharges, unplanned and uncontrolled Releases

During decommissioning, the licensee is required to maintain a radiation protection program that takes under consideration the ALARA principle, derived release limits, dose limits and actions levels, measures to prevent or mitigate the effects of unplanned releases, and the protection of the environment.

F.8.3 Emergency preparedness

For nuclear emergency management, a plan is required during decommissioning. The plan is based on the risk associated with the facility at the time of decommissioning.

F.8.4 Records

As part of the decommissioning planning process, records information is reviewed. Relevant aspects are incorporated into the documentation required for formal approval of both preliminary and final decommissioning plans. A preliminary plan serves as the basis for the decommissioning financial assurance provided by the licensee. Regulatory agencies require that it be in place prior to the start of construction and operations. A detailed decommissioning plan must be developed while operations approach completion. This serves as the basis for environmental assessments and subsequent licensing of the decommissioning activities. The detailed plan must include a description of the records and information that will be permanently retained and of the reports that are to be submitted to regulatory agencies.

The licensee must retain specified records and information, typically through the corporate office, as the need for onsite staff diminishes. Reports submitted to regulatory agencies will be retained in accordance with the respective agencies' procedures.

For example, the Class 1 Nuclear Facility Regulations require that every licensee who operates a nuclear facility keep a record of the following:

  • operating and maintenance procedures,
  • the results of the commissioning program,
  • the results of the inspection and maintenance programs,
  • the nature and amount of radiation, nuclear substances and hazardous substances within the nuclear facility, and
  • the status of each worker's qualifications, re-qualification and training.

Also, every licensee who decommissions a Class 1 nuclear facility shall keep a record of the following:

  • the progress achieved in meeting the schedule,
  • the implementation and results of the decommissioning,
  • the manner in which, and the location at which, any nuclear or hazardous waste is managed, stored, disposed of or transferred,
  • the name and quantity of any radioactive nuclear substances, hazardous substances and radiation that remain at the nuclear facility after completion of the decommissioning, and
  • the status of each worker's qualifications, re-qualifications and training.

These regulations can be viewed at the CNSC's Web site at:

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