Speech Article from  Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission

Archived - CNSC President's speech to the Natural Resources Committee

Archived Content

Information identified as archived is provided for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. It is not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards and has not been altered or updated since it was archived. Please contact us to request a format other than those available.

Opening remarks for:

President Michael Binder
Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission

House Standing Committee on Natural Resources

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Check against delivery

Good morning, Mr. Chairman and Committee members.

My name is Michael Binder and I am the President of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission. It is a pleasure to accept your invitation to be here today.

The CNSC is Canada's nuclear regulator. Under the Nuclear Safety and Control Act - the "NSCA", the CNSC carries out its three-fold mandate:

  • Regulating the use of nuclear energy and materials to protect the health, safety and security of Canadians and the environment,
  • Implementing Canada's international commitments on the peaceful use of nuclear energy, and
  • Disseminating objective scientific, technical and regulatory information to the public.

The CNSC is an independent quasi-judicial administrative tribunal. It regulates all things nuclear in Canada, including uranium mining, nuclear fuel fabrication, nuclear reactors and power plants, the production and use of medical isotopes, and the decommissioning and remediation of nuclear sites.

The CNSC is therefore directly involved in regulating the nuclear facilities to which the Nuclear Liability and Compensation Act (NLCA) will apply.

As you know, the government is responsible for setting policy such as the NLCA; and the CNSC's role is to carry out its responsibilities under the Act. We welcome the NLCA as it will modernize and clarify the various roles and responsibilities of those involved in case of a nuclear accident.

The CNSC's job is to make sure no claim is ever filed under the NLCA. We will not license a facility unless we are convinced it is safe. The CNSC is a hands-on regulator and we have a robust regulatory framework in place to ensure that our licensees are operating safely and meeting their licence conditions.

One of the ways in which we do this is to conduct all kind of studies.  We undertake Probabilistic Safety Analysis. We simulate large accident consequences. We look at physical protection measures to ensure security. And we do research to determine the life of pressure tubes. All these studies aim to ensure there are no weaknesses in the safety case and to bring in new measures to address any gaps identified. For example, yesterday we released for public comment the "Study of Consequences of a Hypothetical Severe Nuclear Accident and Effectiveness of Mitigation Measures", a study that investigates the health consequences of a release due to a hypothetical severe accident involving four reactors, and the mitigation measures needed to safeguard public health. This is only the latest example of the CNSC's ongoing work as a safety regulator.

You have heard references to the Fukushima Dai‑ichi accident in Japan in 2011. I can assure you that this unfortunate accident spurred a global effort to raise standards to guard against events which were previously considered to be improbable. For our part, the CNSC ordered a review of the safety case of all Canadian operators. The result has been increased safety measures in the design and operation of our nuclear facilities.

There is now also added capacity to ensure the redundancy in Emergency Mitigation Equipment (EME) to maintain safe shutdown of one or multiple reactors simultaneously. This added capacity includes:

  • 21 portable and mobile diesel generators to provide emergency power;
  • 20 cooling water pumps on site with municipality fire trucks acting as offsite support;
  • Enough fuel to operate for days without offsite refuelling;
  • Additional hydrogen mitigation equipment such as Passive Recombiners (PARS) have been installed to ensure protection of containment, hence, reduce the likelihood of releases.
  • Furthermore, the NPP licensees have established an MOU to construct a centralized emergency response centre to provide offsite support in case of an accident.

Those enhancements in the on-site emergency mitigation capabilities, as well as offsite emergency response readiness, have been procured, installed and designed so that the potential for this kind of accident ever happening in Canada is practically eliminated.

Canada enjoys an enviable safety record with no claims ever having been made under the Nuclear Liability Act. Our role is to ensure this does not change under the new Act.

Our role under the proposed Act is to provide advice to the Minister on the designation of facilities containing nuclear material as nuclear installations that will be covered by the Act.

We will also verify on an ongoing basis that licensees who are required to carry liability coverage under the proposed Act are in full compliance with this obligation.

In closing, the CNSC is actively involved in overseeing all of Canada's nuclear licensees. As such, we are fully familiar with the facilities existing in Canada and the nature of nuclear materials contained on those sites, and we stand ready to provide any assistance the Minister requires in implementing this new legislation.

I would be pleased to answer any questions that you might have. Thank you.

Search for related information by keyword

Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission Science and Technology Nature and Environment Health and Safety Government and Politics

Date modified: