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Atomic Energy of Canada Limited National Research Universal Reactor Safety System Upgrades and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission's Licensing and Oversight Process

VI. CNSC Enforcement

VI. A. Enforcement of NRU Upgrades Licence Conditions

The CNSC staff conducted a compliance inspection of NRU upgrades and sent the results to AECL in an April 20, 2006 letter [43]. During the inspection, the inspection team identified that the commissioning tests of the EPS seismic upgrades were not completed. The Compliance Inspection Report Summary [43] cited Licence Condition 13.1 "The licensee shall by December 31, 2005, demonstrate that all seven NRU Reactor safety system upgrades are fully operational." There were a number of findings listed under “Commissioning Adequacy”, one of them was Finding, "The commissioning tests of the new DC Motor Starters and ATS-3 & 4 [Automatic Transfer Switch] on P-104 and P-105 are not complete." The findings under commissioning were analyzed and a Directive OMSD-AECL-2006-T1743-QA-02-D9 was issued: “Functional, performance, control, and safety requirements for the upgrades were not demonstrated by commissioning in accordance with CSA N286.4 Clauses 2 & 4.1.1, […] AECL shall ensure that the functional, performance, control, and safety requirements for all seven upgrades are demonstrated by commissioning […] For the functional, performance, control, and safety requirements of each upgrade system, AECL shall produce a document that identifies the corresponding commissioning tests." The CNSC procedure for performing Type 1 inspections [44] specified that “If a serious non-compliance or unsafe practice is uncovered during the course of the inspection, it shall be brought to the attention of the team leader immediately for onward communication to the licensing Director or project officer. These situations are dealt with in the appropriate manner and may require use of regulatory tools such as issuance of orders if the situation warrants it.” Although some of the CNSC staff knew that the connections to the two pumps had not been completed, the inspectors did not identify the EPS commissioning finding, by itself, as a serious non-compliance or unsafe practice.

The Inspection Procedure also required that, prior to the completion or termination of the on-site inspection, the team leader would conduct a final team meeting, to summarize the inspection findings with the help of the team members. The team should also come to a preliminary judgment on whether the deficiencies should be the subject of an Action Notice or Directive, using a flow chart to help decide on classifying their findings as Action Notices or Directives. A Directive is the most serious finding, and is defined in the Inspection Procedure as: “A written request that the licensee take action to correct a non-compliance with governing regulations, licence conditions, codes, standards, or a general or sustained failure to adhere to approved documents, policies procedures, instructions, programs, or processes that the licensee has established to meet licensing requirements.” The CNSC Compliance Inspection Report does not include the EPS connection to the MHWP issue as a specific Directive and the Inspection Team did not document whether or not this finding was considered to be in violation of the OL Licence Condition 13.1. The inspectors did not, as a team, classify findings using the flow chart in the Inspection Procedure. The uncompleted commissioning tests of the new DC Motor Starters and ATS-3&4 on P-104 and P-105 became one of eighty-five findings, and since it was not identified by the CNSC as a licence violation, a Directive or even an Action Notice, it was not perceived by AECL to be a significant problem.

In a June 15, 2006 letter to CNSC [45], AECL responded to the Directives, Action Notices, Recommendations and Findings in the audit report. In this letter, AECL apprised the CNSC that the connection had not been completed. The CNSC staff did not take any enforcement action, and did not provide any feedback to AECL that the lack of the EPS connection was an issue that needed to be addressed promptly.

AECL again informed the CNSC that the connections were not completed, in the Final Safety Note of July 2006 [46]. The Final Safety Note stated that the emergency power supplies are “now being connected” to the DC motors of P-104 and P-105. The Talisman Team could not determine why CNSC did not promptly follow-up on this indication that the EPS was not connected to the MHWPs before the licence was renewed, or at least verify that it had been fully completed, especially since other AECL documents indicated that the EPS was “fully operational”.

VI. B. CNSC Inspector Training

CNSC staff stated in interviews that, except for the on-site CNSC CRL inspectors, the training program for inspectors is fairly brief and not very comprehensive. While the Talisman Team did not conduct (nor was it requested to conduct) a rigorous review of the CNSC Technical Training Program, it appears that a more thorough and formal training in the CNSC regulatory process (including the inspection and enforcement roles and responsibilities) is warranted. From various interviews, it was not clear whether CNSC staff understood who is responsible for documenting licence violations or non-conformances, or how to document known or observed violations of CNSC regulatory requirements in formal inspections, or enforcement documents.

The Talisman Team was told that, during this period of time, there were CNSC management changes in the CRL Compliance and Licensing Division, a change in the CNSC Single Point of Contact (SPOC) for the NRU reactor, reassignment of key CNSC staff away from oversight of the upgrades to other CRL licence renewal issues; a high priority was placed on getting the NRU licence renewal document prepared. This high priority was necessary because the NRU licence was scheduled to expire in July 2006, which would presumably have forced the NRU reactor to shutdown.

Observation (10) - Enforcement (E) - Characterization of Findings

The Talisman Team concluded that the inspection team did not follow the CNSC Inspection Procedure as it relates to identification of licence violations and, as a result, they did not fully understand whether a violation of Licence Condition 13.1 had occurred or not. The issue was not effectively raised to the CNSC management, or to the CNSC counsel, for assistance in determining whether there was a licence violation, or whether enforcement action should be taken. If the CNSC Type I Compliance Inspection had highlighted the potential licence violations due to the lack of EPS upgrade components, appropriate corrective action could have been taken much earlier, or agreement may have been reached that the connections could be made on a different schedule, as had been the case for earlier dates for upgrade implementation.


C-E-1: CNSC senior management should clearly promulgate their expectations regarding procedural adherence by CNSC staff. This should include clearly documenting in every audit or inspection report whether any OL violations were identified or not, as well as the safety significance, as it is understood at that time.

CNSC Management Response
The CNSC management will immediately remind CNSC staff of expectations for procedural adherence. This will include re-enforcing the expectation to clearly document and communicate any identified license violation and their relative safety significance.

C-E-2: CNSC senior management should provide training for all CNSC staff that conducts inspections, to ensure that CNSC staff understands how to identify and document OL or regulation violations, and encourage the inspectors to get advice from CNSC counsel if there are any questions concerning a possible OL violation.

CNSC Management Response
In 2006, the CNSC approved the development of courses for inspectors: a 2 day course for inspection and a 3 day course for investigation. More than 75 inspectors have been trained. The next course is scheduled for October 2008. The CNSC will ensure that all current inspectors at the CRL site attend existing training courses on inspections and investigations. As the compliance process and procedures are revised or formalized, CNSC will update its training program and ensure all compliance staff receive the necessary training.

Observation (11) - Enforcement (E) Assessment of Penalties

The enforcement of the CNSC expectations and requirements for the NRU upgrades has not been effective. The Talisman Team observed that CNSC staff had identified multiple examples of non-compliance with CNSC requirements and expectation. The CNSC staff response has only been to request that AECL respond with plans and schedules for correction and upgrades (also see report Section IV.D above and the discussion regarding the Licensing Strategy document that needed to address “known non-compliances with regulatory requirements and safety concerns”). Thus, it appears that there is really no “penalty” imposed by CNSC for failure to meet a regulatory requirement in most instances. AECL is simply requested to respond to the issue. While the CNSC can order the reactor to be shutdown or propose a potential monetary fine, it can only do so by requesting the Canadian Department of Justice to go to court. This latter enforcement action appears to require much more effort from the CNSC staff and it is very seldom used.


C-E-3: CNSC senior management should adopt an Enforcement Policy which includes the ability to levy monetary fines. If necessary, the CNSC should request civil penalty authority. This should be an inherent authority of CNSC, not subject to support from other government agencies. This provides the regulator with a more efficient and effective way to identify those violations that warrant elevated enforcement action, and enables the regulator to be more effective in ensuring regulatory requirements are met.

CNSC Management Response
This is currently under review and will be further examined for possible application. The implementation of this proposal would require changes of the Nuclear Safety and Control Act, legal reviews and the establishment of qualified staff and supporting tools to ensure its effective execution. The CNSC will review this option with its Legal Counsel and provide a recommendation to the Commission by November 2008 that will include a proposed timeline for bringing the necessary changes for parliamentary approval and executing the implementation pending the approval.

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