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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

VII. Communications between CNSC and AECL on NRU Safety Upgrades Requirements and Progress of Work to Support Licence Renewal.

VII. A. Mutual Understanding - Agreement between CNSC and AECL for EPS Tie-in Implementation

The Talisman Team was asked to assess whether there was a clear mutual understanding of the design details for the NRU upgrades which would be installed by AECL, on what schedule, and which specific aspects of those upgrades would be required as a condition of the license.

In written correspondence from AECL, the upgrades were frequently discussed in general terms (such as “the Upgrades are fully operational”) without specifying to any detail exactly which upgrades were being discussed. Formal written correspondence between the licensee and regulator does not always reference a controlled design description document which could be understood by both the licensee's design and construction staff and the CNSC inspection and technical review staff. The Facility Authorization (FA) offers a process for implementing modifications [23] that, if followed, would result in detailed descriptions of modifications at the conceptual and final stages. AECL appears to have followed the process by submitting First Safety Notes and Final Safety Notes, which described the EPS Upgrades in sufficient detail to achieve mutual understanding that the hazard-qualified Class 1 power supply to the MHWPs P-104 and P-105 was a key part of the upgrade.

However, on several occasions after December 31, 2005, AECL maintained in other correspondence that the NRU upgrades, including EPS, were fully operational, while noting that the EPS connection to the MHWPs had not been completed. Neither AECL nor the CNSC staff acted to resolve the apparent inconsistency. As discussed earlier, in the October 2005 CNSC Licence Renewal Hearing, one of the CNSC Commission Members questioned whether CNSC staff and AECL agreed on the details of the seven upgrades, and the Commission Members were assured by both the CNSC staff and AECL that they agreed. CNSC staff stated that, from a historical perspective, the “seven upgrades” terminology has been recognized through numerous licensing correspondence and CNSC Commission documentation.

The Talisman Team believes that the inconsistency between AECL and the CNSC senior management positions' understanding on the status of the upgrades becomes evident in reviewing the correspondence sent to CNSC after the Hearings. On December 23, 2005, AECL reported [22] that “all seven NRU upgrades are fully operational.” On May 31, 2006, in a letter to the CNSC [47], AECL reiterated that “the current upgrades are fully operational” even when NRU management knew that the EPS connection to the MHWPs had not been implemented. This management understanding difference between AECL and the CNSC continued until November 2007.

VII. B. Effectiveness of CNSC and AECL Communications

Multiple AECL documents, provided to the CNSC from April 2005 through June 2006, indicated that the EPS upgrades, including the seismic qualification, have been fully operational, completed, or are ready for tie-in. On the other hand, multiple AECL documents also indicated that the DC motor upgrades were not connected.

Documents indicating that the EPS upgrades are operational, completed or ready for tie-in include:

  • April 13, 2005, AECL, R. K. Kumar Letter to CNSC A. Alwani, “fully functional for 2 years”, ready for tie in. [48]
  • December 23, 2005, AECL, W. R. Shorter, Director NRU Facility Authority, letter to C. Nache, Project Officer, CNSC written confirmation that seven mandated safety upgrades were fully operational. [22]
  • March, 2006, CRL-00521-LP-002, “remaining two systems that complete the installation have been made fully operational (2005 December). […] The seven seismically and environmentally qualified upgrades identified in earlier engineering and safety reviews have been completed. [49]
  • May 31, 2006, letter from AECL to CNSC stated “I would like to reiterate that AECL is convinced the current NRU upgrades are fully operational and that they will meet their functional and performance requirements if called upon to operate.” [47]
  • June 23, 2006, NRU-150113-021-000, NRU Action Plans, response to CNSC Licensing Strategy, the EPS is “Fully Operational [...] As of January 2006, all Safety Upgrades meet these conditions and have been declared “fully operational.” [50]
  • March, 2007, AECL Safety Analysis Report, NRU Safety Analysis Report, NRU Licensability Extension Project, NRU-01320-SAR-001 AECL MISC-300, Rev. 1, A set of seven major upgrades, designed to enhance the safety of the NRU Reactor, have been installed. "As part of the upgrades package, MHWP DC Motors 4 and 5 have been equipped with seismically-qualified starters that incorporate transfer switches." [51]

Following the December 2005 deadline for having all seven upgrades fully operational, AECL provided information to the CNSC that the EPS was not connected to the MHWPs. CNSC staff did not question or challenge AECL, and did not raise this issue to CNSC management as a potential licensing requirement that was not being met.

  • March 17, 2006, preliminary response to the CNSC audit states that the EPS upgrades are connected with the exception of the DC motors for P 104 and 105. [52]
  • June 15, 2006, AECL, W. R. Shorter, Letter to C. Nache, CNSC, "Type I Compliance Inspection Report OMSD-AECL-2006-T1743-QA-02 NRU Upgrades QA Audit”, "All upgrades are now connected to the EPS, except for MHWP #4 & #5 DC motors. B-20-004 will be the full functional test for the EPS." [45]
  • July, 2006, AECL Nuclear Safety Note "Final Safety Note on the Emergency Power Supply (EPS) Upgrade of NRU", "EPS power supplies are now being connected to the dc motors P-104 and P-105 […] When commissioning installation of the new DC motor starters for main heavy water pumps P-104 and P-105 is completed a full functional test of EPS system will be repeated." [46]
  • July 6, 2006, AECL, Shorter, Letter to CNSC, Nache, "…the DC starters are being replaced by hazards qualified units." [53]
  • August 31, 2006, AECL, W. R. Shorter letter to CNSC, L. Lang, "Type 1 Compliance Inspection Report OMSD-AECL-2006-T1743-QA-02 NRU Upgrades Audit, File Number 26-1-54-3-12" AECL response to Finding "Commissioning Procedure B-20-004 will test the system under actual load conditions, when the new DC motor starters are connected up." Finding "All upgrades are now connected to the EPS, except for MHWP #4 & 5 DC motors." Finding "Correct. Testing of the new DC motor starters is still in progress." [54]
  • December, 2006, AECL "Emergency Power Supply Commissioning Verification", NRU-152006-REPT-002, Revision 0. The Commissioning Verification Report for EPS was prepared in response to CNSC Directive OMSD-AECL-2006-T1743-QA-02-D9 to review the adequacy and completeness of the commissioning program applied to EPS. The verification report states “In October 2005, with approval of the SRC and the CNSC, the final connections of EPS power to the other safety upgrades were completed and the system was brought to the 'fully operational‘ […] Replacement of these starters was an addition to the original project scope resulting from the NRU safety reanalysis. It will provide enhanced protection against Loss of Flow especially after a seismic event. […] The final commissioning report shows that there were 72 commissioning procedures completed for the testing of individual components/equipment during the inactive phase of commissioning. There were seven additional procedures identified for the active commissioning phase. Five of these have been completed to establish that the system functions as designed and its acceptance criteria are met; the remaining two procedures are related to the new qualified DC motor starters and will be completed after the new starters are installed." [55]
  • March, 2007, Annual Safety Review, “As part of the NRU upgrades new seismically qualified direct current (dc) motor starters were purchased. Installation and testing of these starters for the Main Heavy Water Pumps 4 and 5 will continue in 2007." [56]
  • July 31, 2007, NRU Life Extension Final Report, “A subsequent design addition to the Upgrades work of significance has been the replacement of the DC Motor Starters for Main Heavy Water Pumps #4 and #5 with seismically qualified units. One of these starter units was installed in a test circuit #1, 2005 April, and underwent a few months of in-service testing on Main Heavy Water Pump #1. Starter unit testing was completed, some recommended modifications to the DC motor starter were made and retesting was completed. Results of the retesting are being evaluated prior to tie-in.” [57]

There were multiple AECL and CNSC staff meetings on the actions needed to respond to the NRU upgrade audit findings. However, when asked about these meetings during interviews by the Talisman Team, the staff had no recollection of any discussion about the EPS connections being made or not being made. As noted earlier, there was no formal commitment tracking system, at either AECL or the CNSC, that prioritized the remaining work to be completed according to its safety significance. As a result, AECL staff focused on the CNSC Compliance Inspection Directives and Actions items as the highest priority issues to be addressed for licensing, along with other actions that the CNSC staff had identified in the Licensing Strategy document.

Observation (12) Communications (CC)

Given the number of opportunities that the CNSC management had to request information from the CNSC staff, and the number of opportunities that the CNSC staff had to identify the issue and inform CNSC management of potential issues which were not resolved, there is a need to improve CNSC internal communications and engagement of managers with the staff. Based on the Talisman Team review of the information presented to the team members, the following recommendation is made:


C-CC-1: CNSC management should communicate an expectation of “no surprises” to the CNSC staff, and foster a culture that encourages the staff to feel free to bring safety issues or potential problems to the attention of management.

CNSC Management Response
CNSC management is working to improve communications with its staff by encouraging open communications, insisting on a “no surprises approach” and supporting staff that brings problems to the attention of management.

VII. C. Information on which the CNSC Commission Members Based their 2006 NRU Reactor Licence Renewal Decision

The July 2006 record of proceedings, including reasons for decision [58], delineates the information relied on by CNSC Commission Members in deciding to renew the NRU reactor operating licence through 2011. The CNSC Commission Members based their decision on, among other things, the AECL licence renewal application [59], the CNSC and AECL prepared CMDs, and the CNSC staff and AECL presentations and statements made at the CNSC Commission meeting.

The CNSC Commission decision stated "AECL's SAR indicated that the present NRU design, including the recently completed safety upgrades, provided adequate protection. …The upgraded NRU would not pose an unacceptable risk to the public …"

A review of the licence application, CMDs and briefing testimony indicated that the CNSC Commission was apprised of significant staff concerns with the implementation of the safety upgrades; but the CNSC Commission was not specifically informed that the EPS was not connected to the MHWPs.

In its CMD supporting the AECL licence application [59], the CNSC staff referred to the current licence condition requiring AECL to demonstrate that all seven NRU upgrades are fully operational by December 31, 2005, and noted that, following AECL's declaration of the operational status of the upgrades, the CNSC staff had conducted an audit. The CNSC staff summarized the audit findings in Appendix E of the CMD, and noted: "Preliminary results from the audit indicate there are significant deficiencies ... As a result there is lack of assurance that the safety upgrades possess the physical functional and performance characteristics to meet their design objectives with high reliability." The staff stated "At the time of writing this CMD CNSC staff is in the process of considering the implications of these deficiencies to the extent that [they] will provide the level of assurance that the upgrades possess the physical, functional and performance characteristics to meet their design objectives with high reliability. […] CNSC staff will be in a position to provide more details on these regulatory requests or actions for Hearing Day 2." CNSC staff stated in CMD-06-H9.B [61], "CNSC's staff review of the NRU Upgrades concluded that, although they possess the physical, functional and performance characteristics to meet their design objectives, there is a lack of assurance that they will perform their functions with high reliability." [60]

In its CMD 06-H9.1 [49], AECL stated "The seven seismically and environmentally qualified safety upgrades identified in earlier engineering and safety reviews have been completed." AECL did not clarify to the CNSC Commission that the EPS tie-ins to the two pumps were now considered an enhancement, and no longer part of the EPS safety upgrade.

As noted in the information provided to the CNSC Commission Members, the Type I Compliance Inspection Report of April 20, 2006 [43] described many deficiencies in the two (LCVC and EPS) safety upgrades selected for audit. This inspection report appeared to be a very thorough and detailed inspection of the safety upgrades, except for the EPS connections to the MHWPs P-104 and P-105. In fact, the report concluded that AECL had not ensured that LCVC and EPS designs met all the design requirements. “These deficiencies are due to a number of quality processes not being applied during the upgrades project from design to commissioning. As a result, there is a lack of assurance that the safety upgrades possess the physical, functional, and performance characteristics to meet their design objectives with high reliability.” The uncompleted commissioning tests of the new DC Motor Starters and ATS were just one of eighty-five findings documented in the Compliance Inspection Report.

In a March 17, 2006 preliminary response to the inspection [52], AECL stated that the EPS upgrades were connected, with the exception of the MHWPs P-104 and P-105 DC motors. AECL made briefings to the CNSC Commission Members on April 26 and June 28, 2006. As noted above, since AECL management did not consider it to be part of the upgrades, they did not apprise the CNSC Commission Members that the EPS was not connected to the MHWPs as originally planned.

The June 28, 2006 CNSC staff presentation to the CNSC Commission Members (CMD 06-H9.B) [60] did not fully reflect the CNSC inspection findings because the incomplete commissioning of the DC motor starter upgrades was not mentioned. The fact that the motor starters were not connected was known to some of the CNSC staff, as indicated by interviews of both organizations. Since the briefing materials provided to the CNSC Commission primarily described the deficiencies identified by the inspection as “quality assurance” issues, they did not focus on the incomplete EPS installation. There was no evidence of CNSC management reaction to the audit team findings on the motor starter connection to the EPS connections, other than to address the audit status in the CNSC Commission hearing.

VII. D. NRU Licence Renewed without Up-To-Date Reference Documents and Clearly Specified Technical Requirements

The CNSC Commission Members renewed the NRU reactor OL, despite the fact that the NRU licence did not have LCOs or a FA that reflected the actual plant configuration for the EPS, or an approved FSAR that was up-to-date. This was not unprecedented. The CNSC Commission had approved NRU licence renewals without a CNSC staff's formal approval of similar documents, in the past. CNSC managers had not previously required the CNSC staff to complete their reviews of the AECL submittals in a timely fashion. The backlog of documents to review and approve, so as to support the CNSC Commission hearing before the licence expired was a very challenging amount of work for the existing CNSC staff.

The CNSC Commission Members approved a licence condition that referred to a “Licensing Strategy” document which did not clearly specify the requirements to be met. The Licensing Strategy document was based in large part on what was yet to be done to achieve compliance with “modern standards.” There was no clear definition of what “modern standards” were to be met.

There was a sense of urgency to prepare the licence renewal documentation, which was necessary in order for the CNSC Commission to issue a new AECL licence, which would permit the continued operation of the NRU reactor and the entire CRL site.

VII. E. Focus of CNSC Activities

The Talisman Team concluded that the licence was renewed although the EPS upgrade had been audited and found not to have been properly installed (in the opinion of some CNSC staff). The Talisman Team learned that a significant effort was undertaken by the CNSC staff and management, to support various OLs by reviewing and approving revisions to OLs. This resulted in CNSC staff not reviewing other AECL submittals in detail, and not having enough time to formally document their review of AECL documents that had been submitted for review and approval. Any licence renewal requires substantial CNSC staff and licensee effort, to support the CNSC Commission Hearing. The very short licence duration for the November 2005 licence renewal, coupled with the fact that it was not acceptable to be without an approved OL, created a situation of constant “churning” of activity related to revising and updating OLs. CNSC staff and AECL staff were preparing for - or participating in - CNSC Commission meetings at the rate of one per month, between mid-2005 to mid-2006. Appendix G lists the types of licensee and CNSC staff interactions that occurred during this period, each of which required preparation for and participation in the CNSC Commission meetings.

The existing CNSC licence renewal practice allows for licence renewal applications having short-lead times, and for short licence extension periods. The licence renewal process is labor-intensive, and can distract CNSC staff and AECL personnel from operational issues. CNSC staff indicated during the interviews that they spent more time on licence renewal than on oversight of plant operations. The NRU licence renewal process strained CNSC resources and this, in turn, appeared to affect the timeliness, thoroughness and rigor of the NRU licence reviews.

Observation (13) - Operating Licence (OL)

The CNSC Commission based its licensing decision on an FSAR that was not approved or referenced in the OL.


Recommendation J-OL-2 addresses this observation.

Observation (14) - Communications (CC)

From a review of the above documents, the Talisman Team concluded that AECL and CNSC staffs did not effectively or clearly communicate with each other, on multiple occasions. The NRU process for communicating with the CNSC was ineffective. When certain NRU project staff first embraced the belief that the EPS tie-in to the MHWPs was not part of the safety upgrades, the licensing and commitment management process should have flagged the need to ensure that their understanding was shared by the CNSC. Communications between CNSC and AECL did not result in a common view of system requirements and facility equipment status at the senior management level.

Between December 2005 and July 2007, AECL provided inconsistent statements regarding the status of the safety upgrades. They were “operational”, but the motor starters were “not installed”; however, this was not challenged by the CNSC staff. There are multiple written documents from AECL which indicated that the EPS upgrades (including hazards qualification) were fully operational or ready for tie-in. In a May 31, 2006 letter to CNSC, AECL stated that the “current upgrades are fully operational”, at a time when AECL knew some CNSC staff were aware that the upgraded DC motor starters were not in service. AECL's notifications were either missed or not acted upon by CNSC staff. According to an internal AECL root cause analysis [62], sometime between April 2005 and June 2005, NRU senior managers decided to track EPS to the DC motor starters separately from the other safety upgrades. However, the Talisman Team could not find a written request for a modification of the scope of the EPS safety upgrades from AECL, following the spring of 2005 decision.

Although it is apparent, from a review of correspondence, that there was an attempt to agree on certain actions, it is not exactly clear what specific terms used meant in a regulatory or operational sense. Terms used include, for example, “7 upgrades”, “declared fully operational”, and “declared in service.” These terms were not defined in the OL - and had they been, there would have been a basis for the reactor operators to use them in daily licence verifications and required actions.

Regulatory language used by the CNSC includes terms such as “expectations”, and “we are asking AECL…” It is not clear that either the licensee or the regulator understood precisely and consistently what was required, when it was required, the actions specified and consequences, if not met.

The Talisman Team was informed that formal CNSC licensing documents, which are approved by the CNSC Commission, are reviewed by counsel to ensure they are consistent with the requirements of the Nuclear Safety and Control Act. However, unless requested by the CNSC staff, their legal review does not normally include all the documents referenced by the licence, or key documents that are incorporated by the documents referenced in the license. There also appears to be no general policy to have other regulatory documents and decisions routinely reviewed and concurred in by counsel, so as to ensure that the requirements are clear, inspectable, and are clearly enforceable. Counsel is available to advise the staff on potential licence violations. However, the staff is involved in many regulatory licensing reviews, and a legal review of potential violations is discretionary unless Commission involvement is required, such as the issuance of an order, or the referral of a violation to the Department of Justice for a proposed civil penalty.


J-CC-1: CNSC and AECL should strengthen the quality and timeliness of internal and external communications, including a process to elevate issues of differing views to higher levels of management for resolution when needed.

CNSC Management Response
The CNSC and AECL have recently developed a protocol for communications at the working level. CNSC and AECL will extend that protocol to ensure it promotes effective (timely and high-quality) communications, to include a process for escalating issues to senior management for resolution (where required), and to include senior- and executive-level meetings. An agreed schedule for senior and executive level meetings between AECL and the CNSC will be completed by June 30, 2008. The formalized communications and problem resolution process will be developed, documented and implemented by December 31, 2008.

AECL Management Response
AECL will work with CNSC staff to strengthen existing communication channels at working and senior levels, including ensuring that regular meetings at all levels, including senior and executive management, continue (see overall recommendation 5).

A-CC-1: AECL should improve its communications with CNSC at all levels, including site licensing interactions, site senior management meetings, and corporate visits to the CNSC senior executives. AECL should implement formal communication plans and procedures, conduct training on their use and conduct an effectiveness review, at least annually. AECL should include, as a matter of routine, expectations that their managers periodically meet with regulatory organizations, to make sure that communications are effective.

AECL Management Response
As discussed under J-CC-1 and overall recommendation 5, AECL will be working with the CNSC to improve communications channels at all levels and will be developing a Regulatory Communications Protocol. In addition, AECL will incorporate an annual effectiveness review of regulatory communications in the self-assessment program for Licensing.

C-CC-2: To ensure that the CNSC regulatory position is clear and understandable, CNSC should adopt a practice of issuing a Safety Evaluation Report (SER) that summarizes the basis for the CNSC review and acceptance of a design change or licence amendment. These CNSC SERs should be issued as timely as possible, and the CNSC managers should establish a planned review completion schedule for each major licensing document.

CNSC Management Response
The CNSC has recently developed a process for conducting technical assessments for life extension projects for Nuclear Power Plants. The CNSC will immediately adopt this process for use with NRU reviews.

C-CC-3: CNSC should not normally request reports and analyses that they do not intend to review. CNSC should document its approval, approval with conditions, or disapproval in written correspondence to the licensee.

CNSC Management Response
Reports and analyses are required from licensees to document licensee performance and demonstrate compliance with requirements and to confirm to both the licensee and the CNSC that the facility can and is being or will be operated safely. The CNSC applies a risk informed approach when establishing the level of review of reports and analyses. Effective immediately, the CNSC will ensure that licensees are informed within 5 business days to confirm receipt of any reports and analyses. The CNSC will ensure the licensee is informed of the CNSC review plans. CNSC acceptance, approvals, approval with conditions or disapproval will be communicated in writing. Refer to C-CC-2 with regards to documenting the decision following the review.

Observation (15) - Communications (CC)

The Talisman Team reviewed a joint pilot procedure, Communications Protocol for CNSC staff and AECL CRL Licensee, dated April 24, 2007, which had been approved for a 3-month trial use. The purpose of this procedure was to ensure that the communication process - the interface between CNSC staff and AECL-CRL licensee - is well coordinated, effectively managed, and responsive to the needs of the staff and licensee. Although the Talisman Team understands that this procedure was coordinated by both CNSC and AECL staff to improve communications, AECL needs to have its own communication protocol procedure.


A-CC-2: AECL should issue its own communication protocol, and reemphasize or implement a policy of “no surprises” and 3-way communication with CNSC staff on regulatory issues and the status of regulatory commitments.

AECL Management Response
AECL will issue a Regulatory Communications Protocol addressing these suggestions and provide training (see A-CC-1 and overall recommendation 5).

Observation (16) - Operating Licence (OL)

General legal services are an essential element in nuclear regulation and licensing. This is not only important in official licensing, inspection, and enforcement activities, but also in the normal course of day-to-day internal business. This would include efforts to approve regulatory documents specifying requirements in the preparation and issuance of OLs and permits. From the terms used in several written communications between the CNSC and AECL, it is evident that a much higher level of clarity could have been achieved.


Recommendations C-OL-3 and C-OL-5 address this observation.

Observation (17) - Enforcement Discretion - (E)

It is noted that some of the decisions made by the CNSC staff in this instance appear to reflect elements of “enforcement discretion” without the supporting regulatory framework and documentation. A formal Enforcement Policy would address the process for evaluation of potential licence violations, establish the steps needed to evaluate the safety significance of a violation, and address the actions to be taken, such as compensatory measures to be implemented by the licensee. The Talisman Team notes that if the safety upgrades were required to be in service by a licence condition, or at least made a clear condition of the licence with the appropriate LCOs (placed into the FA), the reactor operators would have known which equipment was required to be operational in order to operate the NRU reactor.


C-E-4: CNSC should develop and implement an Enforcement Policy that includes guidance for the CNSC staff to exercise enforcement discretion under certain conditions. This needs to be fully coordinated with CNSC in-house counsel in both the development of the policy and the oversight of its implementation to ensure consistency among inspectors. Should CNSC obtain the authority and ability to issue civil penalties as recommended above, this should also be covered in the new Enforcement Policy.

CNSC Management Response
The CNSC recognizes the need to ensure clarity on the range of enforcement tools to be applied commensurate with the severity of non-compliance and the overall safety significance. The CNSC will complete a review and ensure clarity on the range of existing enforcement tools and their application by September 30, 2008. The CNSC will also document the process for graduated enforcement including guidance for assessing the risk significance of temporary conditions on NRU safety systems and identifying appropriate regulatory actions. This will be communicated to both licensees and staff. This will be completed by November 15, 2008.

Observation (18) - Licence Renewal - (LR)

The NRU licence was renewed without the formal approval of key documents such as the FA and FSAR, which are key documents to understanding ongoing compliance. The CRL OL was renewed based in part on completion of the seven NRU upgrades, but as noted earlier, the Talisman Team found that there was not always a clear mutual understanding of the design details for the NRU upgrades which would be installed by AECL, on what schedule, and which specific aspects of those upgrades would be required as a condition of the license. The practice of requiring CNSC Commission approval of every licence amendment adds an additional burden on the CNSC and AECL staffs. The information provided by both the CNSC staff and AECL staff to the CNSC Commission Members was incomplete, in that neither staff apprised the CNSC Commission Members that the EPS to the MHWPs was not connected, even though this had always been part of the EPS upgrade safety function.

The Talisman Team judged that this situation contributed directly to a “CNSC culture” with a priority to process a licence application on a fast-track schedule, as opposed to having ample time and resources to thoroughly review and evaluate proposed safety cases and safety analyses, develop regulations and regulatory guidance, and verify the implementation of existing licenses. The lack of a “Timely Renewal” process contributed to this workload demand for both organizations.


J-LR-1: AECL and CNSC should strengthen the licence renewal process to require more complete and accurate information to be provided to the CNSC Commission Members, especially if, in the view of the CNSC staff, the information involves a key safety issue or a potential licence violation. Both organizations need to be prepared to bring the most up-to-date and detailed information to the CNSC Commission Members.

CNSC Management Response
As part of documenting the licensing process, the CNSC will review the format and content of CMDs and supporting documents to ensure more complete and accurate dissemination of information to the Commission. The plan and timeline for completing this work will be established by September 30, 2008.

AECL Management Response
AECL agrees, and will provide guidance for ensuring open and complete communications to Commission Members in its Regulatory Communications Protocol (see overall recommendation 5).

C-LR-1: CNSC should review the current statutory authority for licensing and, if the ability to delegate the authority for issuing licence amendments to the CNSC staff exists, authorize the Executive Vice-President or the Directors General for Licensing to approve licence amendments. If that authority does not exist, the CNSC should request it from Parliament.

CNSC Management Response
In alignment with the Nuclear Safety and Control Act, CNSC will review and seek Commission approval to further delegate authority from the Commission to Designated Officers including the Executive Vice-President and the Director Generals or seek to further streamline of the Commission decision making process to approve license amendments in abbreviated time periods. The two options will be reviewed by October 31, 2008 and presented to the Commission in November 2008 with implementation to follow pending Commission approval.

C-LR-2: CNSC should adopt a “Timely Renewal” licensing process. This would allow an existing licence to remain in effect until CNSC had completed its full licensing review. This would be based on the receipt of the application at least one year prior to the licence expiration date. The existing OL remains in effect until CNSC decides to issue or not the new licence. If there is a significant safety issue during the timely renewal period, CNSC can issue an order to the licensee to take the actions necessary to ensure protection of the public health and safety, the workers, or the environment. Under “Timely Renewal”, CNSC retains the option for a periodic safety review, while at the same time having the flexibility for additional or more in depth licensing evaluations or to address unforeseen operational issues.

CNSC Management Response
CNSC already extends licenses as appropriate through license amendments. The CNSC further explored opportunities to further utilize license amendments to extended licenses as appropriate. This was completed on June 30, 2008. In addition, the CNSC is currently reviewing the use of Periodic Safety Reviews for Nuclear Power Plants and NRU to support a more systematic and timely approach to safety review that could lead to extended licence durations. This in turn will facilitate the timely submission and review of license renewal applications. The CNSC will bring forward a proposal to the Commission by December 31, 2008.

C-LR-3: CNSC should consider requiring that licence applications be submitted under oath or affirmation. This would emphasize the importance of providing accurate information to the CNSC to make its licensing decisions.

CNSC Management Response
Paragraph 48(d) of the Nuclear Safety and Control Act states that “Every person commits an offence who
(d) knowingly makes a false or misleading written or oral statement to the Commission, a designated officer or an inspector;”

Section 51(3) further states that every person who commits such an offence
“(a) is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to a fine not exceeding $1,000,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years or to both; or
(b) is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction and liable to a fine not exceeding $500,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding eighteen months or to both.”

The CNSC will review for the possible use of oaths and affirmation to further promote compliance. As part of its compliance process, CNSC will review its enforcement process including investigation and possible prosecution in the event of submittal of false or misleading written or oral information. A schedule for completing this work will be established by September 30, 2008.

Observation (19) - Licence Renewal (LR)

Licence renewal is a very labor intensive effort, and has challenged CNSC staff resources during periods of high turnover and reduced staffing levels.


CNSC should implement the following improvements to the licence renewal process:

C-LR-4: CNSC should shift to a more process-based system, where regulatory requirements and expectations are specified in writing and in guidance documents.

CNSC Management Response
This is currently underway, as the implementation of the CNSC Management System and associated improvement initiatives are delivering this.

C-LR-5: CNSC should issue a Standard Format and Content guide for use by licensees in preparing licence applications.

CNSC Management Response
Similar documents are already under development to support the application for New Reactor Builds. As part of documenting the licensing process CNSC will capitalize on this work, and document standard formats, guides and review plans for all major facilities with NRU as a high priority. A schedule for completing this work will be established by September 30, 2008.

C-LR-6: CNSC should issue a Standard Review Plan for use by the CNSC staff in conducting their safety reviews.

CNSC Management Response
The development of “review guides” is currently being undertaken for the review of applications for new facilities. The CNSC will review these guides to establish simplified templates for producing “standard review plans” for all licensed major operating facilities starting with NRU. A schedule for completing this work will be established by September 30, 2008.

Observation (20) - Licence Renewal (LR)

CNSC staff specifies the standards approved for use and required to be implemented by AECL. CNSC encourages its licensees to periodically upgrade to modern standards. Frequently, the term “modern standards” is used without definition.


Regarding the practice of upgrading to modern standards, CNSC should consider:

C-LR-7: CNSC should not, unless there is a safety justification, change the standards that were in effect when the reactor was licensed. Those standards should remain unchanged for the duration of the licence, to provide for regulatory predictability and stability. If CNSC desires to revise these standards during periodic safety upgrades, it should specify this and provide the basis so that licensees become aware of the expectations to be met.

CNSC Management Response
In documenting the process for conducting technical assessments, the CNSC will document the standards to be used. These and any subsequent changes and the basis for them will be communicated to the licensee. A schedule for completing this work will be established by September 30, 2008.

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