CNSC's Chief Science Officer and the role of science
At the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC), science and evidence-based information are the foundation of regulatory decision-making and recommendations to the Commission. The recent appointment of Peter Elder as Chief Science Officer (CSO) of the CNSC builds on this base
Scientific expertise and activities are strong at the CNSC in a range of areas such as geophysics, engineering, nuclear physics, biology, radiology and environmental risk management. CNSC staff use science as a source of invaluable data for developing regulatory documents, conducting environmental and radiological assessments and monitoring, and carrying out licensing reviews. This scientific knowledge also supports the organization's mandate to disseminate objective scientific, technical and regulatory information to the public.
As CSO, Peter Elder has a mandate to lead the CNSC's technical services and provide advice in support of the organization's regulatory activities. He is accountable for ensuring that the appropriate scientific advice informs the CNSC's regulatory decision making and that the best expertise is made available.
The CSO's vision is to make the role of science more explicit and visible at the CNSC and ensure that staff explain to the Commission and to the public how science is used in their regulatory recommendations. As part of this vision, he actively encourages CNSC staff to speak freely about their work.
Peter Elder brings a wealth of experience to this position. During his 20-year career at the CNSC, he has held a variety of leadership roles across the nuclear fuel cycle. He has also served as a nuclear counsellor at the Permanent Mission to the International Organizations in Vienna. In this role, he advised the Canadian government on International Atomic Energy Agency activities in nuclear safety and security, emergency management and technical cooperation.
Before joining the CNSC, Peter Elder worked for Atomic Energy Canada Limited as a section head and research scientist in the area of high-temperature fuel behaviour and fission product release. He co-authored a number of scientific papers during this period on fuel behaviour under accident conditions, and was involved in several international collaborations in this area. He completed a master's degree in materials engineering from Queen's University after receiving his undergraduate degree in engineering science (physics option) from the University of Toronto.
Science and research at work
The CNSC is committed to scientific integrity in its regulatory and nuclear safety environment.
The CSO plays a key role in leading scientific work at the CNSC and the organization's participation in scientific research in collaboration with national and international institutions. Read more about the CNSC's scientific endeavours:
- scientific and technical information
- technical papers, presentations and articles
- the CNSC laboratory
- health studies
- CNSC participation in international research projects: geological repositories
The CSO regularly delivers presentations in Canada and internationally on the important role of science and research at the CNSC and how a nuclear regulatory organization prioritizes this role.
On April 11, 2018, Peter Elder, Vice President of the Technical Support Branch (TSB) and Chief Science Officer at the CNSC, gave a presentation at the Workshop on Building Effective Technical and Scientific Capabilities in Embarking Countries (IAEA TSO Forum), Vienna, Austria. Mr. Elder discussed how the CNSC's Technical Support Branch functions as its technical and scientific support organization (TSO) model and how it is integrated into all of the CNSC's regulatory activities to ensure accessibility to technical resources, excellent support, familiarity with issues, and ongoing training.
On February 15, 2018, Peter Elder, Vice-President and Chief Science Officer, Technical Support Branch, gave a presentation at the Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) Federal Lab Day held in Ottawa, Ontario, titled Opportunities for CNL in Support of Nuclear Safety and Regulation. Mr. Elder discussed the value of regulatory research, the CNSC's collaboration with CNL on research programs, and areas of growth including small modular reactors.
On October 24, 2017, Peter Elder, Vice-President and Chief Science Officer, Technical Support Branch, gave a presentation to the Federal Provincial and Territorial Radiation Protection Committee (FPTRPC) annual meeting in Ottawa, Ontario. In his presentation, titled An Overview of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, Mr. Elder provided highlights of the organization's regulatory role and responsibilities, current activities, as well as licensing processes, stakeholder engagement, and duty to consult with Indigenous organizations.
October 10, 2017
Presentation by Peter Elder at DECOVALEX-2019
On October 10, 2017, Peter Elder, Vice-President and Chief Science Officer, Technical Support Branch, presented at a CNSC-organized workshop at DECOVALEX-2019 in Kingston, Ontario. The presentation, titled "CNSC Regulatory Research on Geological Disposal", provides a CNSC perspective on the goal of the DECOVALEX international research project to develop, validate and compare mathematical models for the performance of seals and host rocks for geological disposal of radioactive waste.
On September 18, 2017, Peter Elder, Vice-President and Chief Science Officer, Technical Support Branch, presented at the 2nd International CNS Conference on Fire Safety and Emergency Preparedness in the Nuclear Industry in Toronto, Ontario. The presentation focused on the CNSC's regulatory approach for fire protection and emergency management at nuclear facilities in Canada.
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