Opening remarks by CNSC Executive Vice-President and Chief Regulatory Operations Officer Ramzi Jammal at the Multinational Workshop on the Regulation of Deep Geological Repositories

Monday, March 14, 2016

Ottawa, Ontario

Good morning, and welcome to Ottawa for the Multinational Workshop on the Regulation of Deep Geological Repositories. For those of you who may not know me, my name is Ramzi Jammal, and I am the Executive Vice-President and Chief Regulatory Operations Officer of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC).

On behalf of the CNSC, I would like to welcome our guests from the nuclear regulatory authorities of Finland, France, Switzerland, Sweden and the United States for this three-day workshop. Together with my team from our Wastes and Decommissioning Division and our International Relations Section, I look forward to this workshop as an opportunity to exchange information on the status of each country’s DGR and the associated regulatory requirements, and to discuss the structure of a possible DGR regulators’ forum.

Turning now to the workshop itself, it might be useful to remind ourselves how we got here.

On the margins of the Fifth Review Meeting of the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management, representatives from some of our six regulatory agencies met and recognized the need to establish multinational cooperation on the licensing, siting, safety assessment and construction of DGRs.

Subsequently, our colleague from Finland reached out to all the regulators here today asking if there was further interest in pursuing this idea. There was mutual recognition of the benefits of working together, especially since most countries are only planning one DGR for used fuel. We felt that it was essential to share experiences, and to develop a common regulatory position on key topics.

Representatives from our six organizations subsequently met on the margins of the IAEA General Conference in September 2015. During this meeting, we agreed in principle to establish a forum to share information and to further discuss regulatory benchmarking and peer reviews for DGRs. To help facilitate these discussions, the CNSC offered to host the first workshop.

During the lead-up to today’s meeting, our technical experts met several times to discuss areas of mutual interest and concerns about this project. I sincerely thank them for their initiative, collaboration and expertise.

We have a number of objectives and expected outcomes from our work over the next three days.

For today, our objectives are to reconfirm our commitment to championing the development of a DGR regulators’ forum, to discuss the possible structure of such a forum and to explore the option of developing peer review services to be led by international regulatory bodies.

We hope to achieve an agreement in principal on the mechanism or structure of the DGR regulators’ forum, discuss the next steps, and provide the participants with clear direction for Day 3 and beyond. I hope too that we can agree to meet again at our level.

For Day 2, the plan is to learn about each country’s program and licensing process for DGRs, with presentations on the status of DGR programs and steps for licensing DGRs, including public engagement and consultation. The objective is to provide a common understanding of the basis of each country’s DGR program and to start to understand the common and unique aspects of the licensing processes for DGRs.

On Day 3, the technical representatives will act on the direction and actions from today, draft a list of common areas of possible cooperation, summarize actions and set the date for our next meeting.

While these objectives and planned outcomes are ambitious, I believe that we are all striving towards a shared goal for this workshop, and that the significant groundwork at the working level, which has laid the foundation for our meetings this week, prepares us for the work ahead.

I would once again like to thank each of you for your participation in this week’s workshop and your efforts to support our mutual interests in developing a DGR regulators’ forum.

It is my pleasure now to introduce Dr. Michael Binder, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, who will deliver a few words on “Regulating the Safety of Radioactive Waste.”