Putting Safety First: Exercise Unified Response

Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission to participate in Exercise Unified Response

Published: May 8, 2014

At the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, nuclear safety and security is our top priority; this includes always being ready for an emergency. We maintain a comprehensive Nuclear Emergency Preparedness program to ensure that we are well prepared to respond in the unlikely event that a nuclear incident occurs.

Should an accident occur; the CNSC Nuclear Emergency Organization assembles to monitor the situation, inform the public and provide technical guidance for making important decisions. The CNSC response can vary significantly from as little as one person managing a minor emergency to a full scale response including activation of the CNSC Emergency Operations Centre.

In non-emergency times CNSC staff continually work to maintain and improve the Commission's nuclear emergency response capability. This is accomplished by training, participating in drills and exercises, and incorporating the lessons learned from real events and previous exercises. All licensee organizations must also be well-prepared to respond to emergencies, and to cooperate with local, provincial, federal and international authorities.

Exercise Unified Response

On May 26, 27 and 28, 2014, the CNSC will participate in a full-scale national nuclear exercise. Exercise Unified Response is the culmination of a multilateral federal and provincial exercise program, including workshops and table top exercises, aimed at improving collective nuclear emergency preparedness and response.

The exercise will validate recent revisions to the Federal Nuclear Emergency Plan. As this is a joint exercise, the main priority is to ensure that, collectively, we have robust and effective emergency response plans in place to safeguard the health and safety of Canadians in case of a nuclear incident.

Since the incident at Fukushima in 2011, licensees, partners and all levels of government have been working diligently to not only reduce the likelihood of such an incident occurring again, but also to improve the coordination between response organizations during an emergency situation.

As an operator of nuclear power plants, Ontario Power Generation's Darlington Nuclear Generating Station will be the host nuclear facility working with all partners to test federal, provincial, regional and other emergency plans.

CNSC Emergency Operations Centre (EOC)

The CNSC Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) is the master coordination point of the CNSC's nuclear emergency management response. It is the place where, during a nuclear emergency, the CNSC's emergency response priorities are set, information is collected and analyzed,  emergency response decisions are made, and support for other CNSC operating locations is coordinated. The EOC is also where the CNSC's emergency communications response is coordinated. Establishing and maintaining effective communications links between the EOC and other emergency operating locations is a priority for emergency response.

Conducting exercises that involve CNSC staff, licensees, and/or external stakeholders is crucial to identifying areas where improvements can be made, to both the facility and the CNSC's emergency procedures.

CNSC's Role in a Nuclear Emergency

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) maintains a comprehensive Nuclear Emergency Response Plan (PDF). Our role during a nuclear emergency is to:

  • monitor the response of the licensee
  • evaluate response actions
  • provide technical advice and regulatory approval when required
  • inform the government and the public on its assessment of the situation

CNSC's Emergency Response Plan is revised regularly to incorporate new elements as a result of lessons learned from exercises and drills.

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