Speech Article from
Archived - CNSC President's speech to the Senate Standing Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources
Opening remarks for:
President Michael Binder
Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission
Senate Standing Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources
Tuesday, February 3, 2015
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Good afternoon, Mr. Chairman and honourable senators.
My name is Michael Binder and I am the President of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission. I’m joined by Robert Power, Senior Coordinator in our Regulatory Affairs Branch. 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, the decommissioning and remediation of nuclear sites, and the safe management of nuclear waste.
The CNSC is therefore directly involved in regulating the nuclear facilities to which the Nuclear Liability and Compensation Act will apply.
As you know, the government is responsible for setting policy and legislation, such as the Nuclear Liability and Compensation Act; 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 the aftermath of a nuclear accident.
However, 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.
Furthermore, we also undertake various studies designed to improve safety. For example, 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.
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.
For example, there is now 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 provide each other with 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.
The CNSC also expects operators to be vigilant against and prepared for other possible threats to their operations, such as cyber or insider or terrorist attacks. I have recently asked our power plant operators to review their processes in place to identify and respond to these types of threats. I have every confidence in our operators’ abilities to respond accordingly, but it is never too early or too often to consider these types of issues in the interests of the public’s health and safety.
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.
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