Presidents' Messages Commemorating AECB/CNSC's 65th Anniversary
- Michael Binder - CNSC President from 2008 to Present
- Dr. Agnes Bishop - AECB/CNSC President from 1994 to 2000
- Jon H. Jennekens - AECB President from 1978 to 1987
- Alan T. Price - AECB President from 1975 to 1978
Michael Binder, CNSC President, shares a few words about CNSC's 65th anniversary and the future of Canada's nuclear regulator
Hi! My name is Michael Binder, and I am the President of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission.
This year, the Commission celebrates 65 years as Canada’s independent nuclear watchdog.
We are celebrating 65 years of milestones.
It all started in 1946, when the Atomic Energy Control Act, Canada’s first nuclear legislation, created the Atomic Energy Control Board. At that time, the Board’s mandate was to only regulate the nuclear industry’s research activities.
But, over the years, Canada’s nuclear activities grew significantly. The introduction of radioisotopes in medical research and cancer treatment; the use of nuclear energy to generate electricity; the development of uranium mines, etc. shifted the Board’s focus to developing regulations to address health and safety issues.
This shift in focus required a new, wide-reaching law that would reflect the latest scientific knowledge in the nuclear field. That is why, in the year 2000, the Nuclear Safety and Control Act came into force, and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission replaced the AECB.
Today, our mission is clear: to protect the health, safety and security of Canadians, to protect the environment and to respect Canada’s international commitments on the peaceful use of nuclear energy.
Our team of 850 dedicated employees ensures the safe operation of all nuclear-related facilities and activities in Canada.
As we reflect on our history and our achievements, we are determined to be ready to meet the regulatory challenges of the future.
In a world committed to finding cleaner sources of energy, I believe that nuclear energy will continue to be part of the mix. And, therefore, a strong and effective nuclear regulator is a must!
As Canada nuclear industry evolves, so will we. And our core commitment to Canadians will not change: we will never compromise safety.
Interview with Dr. Agnes Bishop, President of the AECB/CNSC from 1994 to 2000
Q. What are some of the highlights of the seven years you were CNSC President?
A. I think the themes that dominated my years as President were change and challenge! Some of the important milestones that stand out for me were the Y2K emergency preparations leading up to the turn of the new millennium and, of course, the coming into force of the new Nuclear Safety and Control Act on May 31, 2000.
Q. How did those events affect the operations of the Commission?
A. The potential impact of the Y2K problem on nuclear operations generated a tremendous amount of work for the industry and for us. While the primary responsibility for addressing the Y2K problem rested with nuclear operators, we had a crucial role to play in ensuring they were ready.
Two years before the turn of the millennium, we developed a risk-management strategic plan that we implemented with our licensees’ full cooperation. For power reactors, for example, this involved ensuring that safety systems would function to shut down reactors, provide continued fuel cooling and containment, and maintain all safety and monitoring controls.
We also created a network to share information with nuclear regulators and operators around the world, and we hosted an international workshop in Ottawa, sponsored by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's Nuclear Energy Agency. We were asked to play a leading role in the Nuclear Energy Agency’s worldwide contingency planning exercise.
In the same time period as the transition to the year 2000, we were also preparing for the May 31, 2000 coming into force of the Nuclear Safety Control Act. The new Act was passed by Parliament in March 1997, and we had three years to prepare for the transition. It was the first time since the Atomic Energy Control Board (AECB) was created in 1946 that major changes were applied to the legislation regulating the nuclear industry, so we had no precedents on which we could rely.
The new Act gave us a clearer mandate to establish and enforce national standards in the area of public and worker safety. It also gave us a firm legislative basis to implement Canadian policy with respect to security issues, particularly the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. And it included a new responsibility for the CNSC: the protection of the environment.
Also of significance was that although the AECB had always functioned separately from the nuclear industry, the new Act sealed our independence.
In order to enforce the new legislation, we had to rewrite most of the regulations and consult with the industry, governments and public interest groups. It was an enormous task, and the staff at the CNSC was outstanding in its dedication and hard work.
Q. What do you think has changed in our regulatory environment since you were President, and what challenges do you foresee for the CNSC in the future?
A. I think one the challenges facing the CNSC today is the uncertainty that exists in the Canadian nuclear industry. The CNSC has to be prepared to deal with many scenarios, including aging reactors. And we don’t know if new reactors will be coming on line soon.
One important change I have observed is that Canadians are more accepting of nuclear energy than they were 10 years ago. And they are more aware of how important it is that the CNSC operate as an independent agency that has a clear responsibility to the Canadian public.
I can’t predict what the future will bring, but I do know that the CNSC’s professional team of employees will be ready to meet all the challenges that are presented to them.
Jon H. Jennekens, AECB President from 1978 to 1987, congratulates CNSC on its 65 years of nuclear regulation in Canada
The enactment of the Atomic Energy Control Act on August 31, 1946, and the creation shortly thereafter of the Atomic Energy Control Board serve as important milestones of the participation by Canada in the development of the military, and then, later, the peaceful use of atomic energy.
The 65th anniversary of those events provides an opportunity for Canadians to recognize the outstanding contribution made by men and woman who enabled Canada to achieve the remarkable achievements that it did in the field of nuclear science and engineering, and who continue to do so.
Alan T. Prince, AECB President fom 1975 to 1978, wishes the CNSC a happy 65th anniversary
My name is Alan Prince.
I’m very happy to be here to help you celebrate the 65th Anniversary of the Nuclear Safety Commission. It was the Atomic Energy Control Board when I knew it... it’s now the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission.
I was pretty glad to be in on the early days of the Atomic Energy Control Board. Everyone thought atomic energy was a joke at that time but eventually, and now, it’s a principal source of energy throughout the world.
I’m glad I was in on the early days of its development and I hope people continue to manage it with care and safety.
I want to offer my congratulations to all involved.