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Regulatory approach for the assessment of fire protection programs at nuclear power plants in Canada

An abstract of the technical paper presented to:
11th International Seminar on Fire Safety
in Nuclear Power Plant and Installations
Espoo, Finland
August 17–19, 2009

Prepared by:
Adderrazzaq Bounagui, Grant Cherkas and Ivan Bolliger
Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC)
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada


Fires1 in a nuclear power plant (NPP) are a significant regulatory concern due to the high potential to affect the safety of a NPP [1]. In Canada, considerable improvement in the fire safety of operating NPPs have taken place in the last 10 years through safety upgrades including design modifications, safety analysis, operational practices leading to measurable reductions in risk.

To manage fire risks effectively and to minimize the impact of fire on health, life safety, nuclear safety, protection of radioactive material and environment protection, Canadian NPP operators (licensees) are required to develop, implement and maintain a comprehensive fire protection program (FPP). The FPP is required to satisfy the requirements of the Canadian Nuclear Safety and Control Act and applicable regulations. Canadian regulations establish high level safety objectives, independent of the individual hazards and impose licence conditions which require the application of specific codes and standards to address protection from fires and explosions for the life cycle of the facility (i.e., from the initial conception of a project, through the design phase to decommissioning). The enabling Canadian legislation [2] places the legal responsibility for safe design and operation on the licensee and establishes a duty of care, i.e., “to take all reasonable precautions to protect the health and safety of persons and the environment….”

An integral and vital aspect of regulatory oversight in fire protection at an NPP is an evaluation of the facilities FPP. The FPP is defined as a set of planned, coordinated and controlled activities which is documented and integrated into the operation of the facility.

In general a FPP assessment approach consists of two parts:

  • a periodic systematic assessment of the FPP to assess the completeness and compliance of the documentation against codes, standards and regulatory objectives
  • a periodic systematic evaluation of the implementation and integration of the FPP at the NPP

This paper presents the first part of the regulatory assessment of a licensee's FPP and highlights the high level aspects of the FPP review used to verify the adequacy and level of compliance of the licensee's FPP. The FPP assessment is performed to establish a high degree of confidence of the adequacy of a FPP from a regulatory oversight perspective in consideration of Canadian nuclear regulations and the Canadian national codes and nuclear fire protection standard [3, 4, 5].

To obtain a copy of the abstract's document, contact the CNSC. When contacting the CNSC, please provide the title and date of the abstract.

1 Fires are defined as events or event sequences involving flaming combustion or explosions, including deflagrations and detonations.

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