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Results from Canada's participation in the Sixth Joint Convention Review Meeting

Canada participated in the Sixth Review Meeting of the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna, Austria, from May 21 to June 1, 2018. A total of 69 Contracting Parties attended the Review Meeting. Each Contracting Party presented its national program on the management of spent fuel and radioactive waste for peer review, including updates and improvements to these programs since the last Review Meeting in 2015. Discussions following Canada's presentation touched on the following topics:

  • continuous enhancement of safety requirements as established by the CNSC and legislated financial guarantee requirements on operators
  • discussions on the licensing process for in situ decommissioning as it relates to the safety case and opportunities for public involvement in the decision-making process
  • mechanisms for public participation in the CNSC's annual reporting on licensee performance in regulatory oversight reports
  • triggers for the renewal of CNSC licences
  • roles and responsibilities of the regulatory body, technical support organizations and other technical experts supporting the regulatory body
  • shared lessons learned on how Canada has established strong independence of the regulator
  • long-term knowledge management for multiple vs. centralized storage facilities

The discussion also focused on closing challenges that were identified in the previous Review Meeting. The following Canadian challenges were accepted as closed:

  • industry access to suitable skills and resources to support a change in focus from operations to decommissioning
  • the CNSC's maintenance of skilled human resources to ensure regulatory oversight through efforts in areas such as organization design, recruitment and workforce renewal, learning and leadership, and employee engagement and retention
  • implementation of a government-owned contractor-operated management model and completing the procurement process

The following challenges remain open and were carried over from the 2015 Review Meeting:

  • finding an acceptable site for a spent fuel repository in a willing host community
  • developing an integrated strategy for non-OPG low- and intermediate-level waste disposal
  • continuing accelerated decommissioning and remediation of Atomic Energy Canada Limited sites

During the Country Group sessions, "good practices" and "areas of good performance" were discussed among all contracting parties. Canada received a "good practice" on openness and transparency – specifically, opportunities for public involvement with annual reporting on licensee performance through the presentation of regulatory oversight reports, which are independent from any licensing process. The following "areas of good performance" were also identified for Canada:

  • openness and transparency through public commission hearings, the CNSC Participant Funding Program, regular opportunities for public participation throughout the licensing period, and CNSC regulatory requirement for the licensees to establish and implement public information programs and proactive public disclosure
  • the CNSC's Independent Environmental Monitoring Program (IEMP):
    • which independently verifies that the environment surrounding its regulated nuclear facilities is safe
    • which integrates Indigenous input into the sampling plan and establishes or updates baseline results of environmental data
    • for which the reports and interactive map of results are available on the CNSC's public website
  • integration of Indigenous knowledge with science in the site selection process for the deep geological repository for spent fuel:
    • commitment of the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) in its Indigenous Knowledge Policy that Indigenous knowledge will inform all of the NWMO's work activities
    • incorporation of the importance of ceremony in planning and executing field investigations, and special emphasis on the involvement of local Indigenous guides and knowledge holders
    • strong Indigenous representation within the NWMO, and regular cultural awareness training for the NWMO, staff, contractors and siting community members

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