What We Heard Report - DIS-13-02

DIS-13-02, Proposed Amendments to Regulations Made Under the Nuclear Safety and Control Act

Preamble

Discussion papers play an important role in the selection and development of the regulatory framework and regulatory program of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC). They are used to solicit early public feedback on CNSC policies or approaches.

The use of discussion papers early in the regulatory process underlines the CNSC’s commitment to a transparent consultation process. The CNSC analyzes and considers preliminary feedback when determining the type and nature of requirements and guidance to issue.

Introduction

Following the spring 2011 events at the Tokyo Electric Power Company’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station, nuclear regulators around the world launched a comprehensive review of all their major facilities. As Canada’s nuclear regulator, the CNSC established the CNSC Fukushima Task Force to review the capability of nuclear power plants – as well as other nuclear facilities – to withstand conditions comparable to those that triggered the Fukushima accident.

The Fukushima Task Force reviewed the CNSC’s regulatory framework and processes, and confirmed that the Canadian regulatory framework is strong and comprehensive. At the same time, it identified and outlined a series of recommendations aimed at further enhancing the safety of nuclear facilities in Canada. The recommendations included specific proposals to amend the Radiation Protection Regulations, as well as the suggestion to review all regulations under the Nuclear Safety and Control Act (NSCA).

Consequently, discussion paper DIS-13-02 presented a suite of proposed amendments to the Class I Nuclear Facilities Regulations, the Class II Nuclear Facilities and Prescribed Equipment Regulations, the General Nuclear Safety and Control Regulations, the Uranium Mines and Mills Regulations and the Nuclear Substances and Radiation Devices Regulations, as well as the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission Rules of Procedure.

Consultation Process

The CNSC issued DIS-13-02 for public comment on November 21, 2013 for a 120-day period. The discussion paper sought input from stakeholders and the public. The CNSC posted an invitation to comment on the discussion paper on its website, as well as a similar notification on its Facebook page, and forwarded an information bulletin to its stakeholders. The notice of the consultation was also posted on the Government of Canada’s Consulting with Canadians website.

On April 15, 2014, the CNSC posted the comments it received on its website, and issued an invitation to provide feedback for a 14-day period. The CNSC received a total of 25 submissions from stakeholders over the course of both comment periods.

The following summarizes the comments received during consultation.

Summary of Stakeholder Comments

  • In relation to the submission of provincial offsite emergency plans to the CNSC, comments were generally opposed to this amendment. Stakeholders noted it may not fall within the CNSC’s jurisdiction to make this request from licensees, and emphasized these plans were already publicly available.
  • On a human performance requirement in regulations, comments indicated that stakeholders feel the status quo is sufficient, and that human performance programs are already part of their operations. They felt that sufficient authority was already provided in the regulations to allow for implementation through licensing and regulatory documents.
  • The requirement for nuclear power plants to conduct periodic safety reviews received support from non-industry stakeholders, while licensees questioned the need for including this requirement in regulations. Power plant operators indicated they felt this potential requirement to be too burdensome, citing the cost of possible implementation of this proposal, and felt the intended outcome could be achieved through regulatory documents and licensing.
  • The proposal to define a renewal period for exposure device operator (EDO) certification received stakeholder support; however, there was concern about the requirement for EDOs to carry their certification cards with them in Class I facilities because of the possibility of radiation exposure. It was stated that it should be sufficient to retain the card on site for presentation to a CNSC inspector.
  • Comments on the proposal for licensees to inform first responders of the presence and location of radioactive nuclear substances or prescribed equipment were mostly positive. However, it was noted that practical implementation of this proposal may be challenging, in part due to the lack of clarity of what constitutes a “local first responder”.
  • Stakeholders supported the proposal to modernize the regulations to reference the need for a management system that places primary focus on safety.
  • Stakeholders were supportive of the CNSC’s proposal to repeal the obsolete clause regarding radiation safety officer certification.
  • Industry supported the proposal to clarify the nature and scope of “requests for rulings”, while other stakeholders sought further clarification. Concerns were raised as to whether this would limit “substantive requests for rulings”.   
  • Comments submitted on clarifying the concept of a “direct interest in a matter” were mostly in opposition to this amendment.  Stakeholders noted that this had the potential to limit participation in Commission hearings.

Next Steps

The CNSC has decided to move forward with the following three amendments from the discussion paper:

  1. inclusion of a requirement for licence applications to contain the proposed human performance program for the activity to be licensed, including measures in place to ensure fitness for duty of workers
  2. the requirement for nuclear power plant licensees to conduct periodic safety reviews to identify the necessary improvements to assure continued safe operation
  3. replacing the requirement for a “quality assurance program” with “management system”, to modernize the regulations and clarify that licensees are expected to have a management system in place that places primary focus on safety

Based upon the events at Fukushima in 2011, the CNSC feels it is important that these amendments move forward at this time as they will assist in continuing to ensure the health, safety and security of Canadians and the environment.

In addition, an amendment will be made to section 15 of the Radiation Protection Regulations.  This change will clarify the requirements set out in this section to address and minimize doses to persons in accordance with the severity of the emergency.  This amendment was previously consulted upon in discussion paper DIS-13-01, Proposals to Amend the Radiation Protection Regulations, and has been included in this regulatory amendment package.

Stakeholders will have further opportunities to comment once the proposed amendments are published in Canada Gazette, Part I.

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