Canada’s response to the 2019 IRRS Report

Introduction

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC), as Canada’s nuclear regulator, is committed to regulatory excellence. In September 2018, in an ongoing demonstration of this commitment, the CNSC, on behalf of Canada, requested an Integrated Regulatory Review Service (IRRS) mission – an international peer review mission from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The IRRS mission to Canada was held September 3 to 13, 2019.

Canada previously hosted an IRRS mission in 2009 and the IRRS review team determined that Canada had a mature, well-established nuclear regulatory framework. A follow-up mission took place in 2011 to assess Canada’s progress against the 2009 IRRS findings, as well as the CNSC’s response to the Fukushima Daiichi events, and to review the regulation of the transport of nuclear substances. The follow-up mission review team noted that the CNSC’s response to the events at Fukushima was prompt, robust and comprehensive. Both missions produced an IAEA report and a CNSC management response, which are publicly available on the CNSC’s website. All action items resulting from the 2009 and 2011 IRRS peer review missions have been completed and closed. In addition, the Government of Canada demonstrated leadership by being the first G7 member to host an Emergency Preparedness Review (EPREV) mission, consisting of a peer review of its nuclear emergency arrangements. This mission was held in June 2019.

It is an international best practice to host an IRRS mission every 10 years, and Canada has demonstrated commitment to this through the conduct of the 2019 IRRS mission. This was considered a full-scope mission and reviewed Canada’s framework for safety, along with the CNSC’s core regulatory processes for all aspects of Canadian nuclear regulation, against IAEA Safety Requirements, which act as the international benchmark for safety.

The 2019 IRRS mission provided valuable insights to the CNSC and other Canadian federal departments (i.e., Natural Resources Canada, Health Canada). Canada was presented with a number of good practices, as well as suggestions and recommendations to improve Canada’s oversight of the nuclear industry, including the CNSC’s regulatory framework.

The IAEA defines good practices, suggestions and recommendations as follows:

  • Good practices are identified in recognition of outstanding organizations, arrangements, programs or performance superior to those generally observed elsewhere. Good practices are worthy of the attention of other regulatory bodies as a model in general to drive for excellence.
  • Suggestions are identified opportunities for improvement not directly related to inadequate conformance with IAEA Safety Requirements. Suggestions may contribute to improvements in national regulatory arrangements, but are primarily intended to stimulate the regulatory body’s management and staff to consider new or different approaches to regulatory, technical and policy issues that may enhance performance.
  • Recommendations are proposed where arrangements under the IAEA Safety Requirements are missing, incomplete, or inadequately implemented. Recommendations are specific, realistic and designed to result in tangible improvements to regulatory effectiveness.

In its Report of the Integrated Regulatory Review Service (IRRS) Mission to Canada, the review team highlighted 6 good practices, and provided 16 suggestions and 4 recommendations.

This report acknowledges each good practice, and provides Canada’s responses for each suggestion and recommendation arising from the 2019 IRRS mission to Canada.

Canada’s response

In the Report of the Integrated Regulatory Review Service (IRRS) Mission to Canada, the review team highlighted 6 good practices, and made 16 suggestions and 4 recommendations. Most of the findings are directly related to how Canada regulates the use of nuclear energy and materials to protect the health, safety and security of Canadians and to protect the environment, which fall within the CNSC’s mandate. However, a few elements highlighted in the findings are not under the CNSC’s purview and are under the oversight of other Canadian federal departments. These other departments include Natural Resources Canada, which is the lead department responsible for developing and implementing federal nuclear energy policy, and Health Canada, which is responsible for promoting and protecting Canadians’ health with respect to the risks posed by exposure to natural and man-made sources of ionizing radiation in living, working and recreational environments.

In accordance with the modular structure of the IRRS, good practices, suggestions and recommendations, along with Canada’s responses, are presented by module in this report.

Module 1 – Responsibilities and Function of the Government

In this module, the IRRS team identified one good practice, three suggestions and one recommendation.

IAEA Good Practice GP1

IRRS text

GP1. The CNSC has developed a targeted, multi-faceted programme for dealing with historic radium luminous devices in the public domain.

Canada’s response

Acknowledged as a good practice. The CNSC will continue its proactive public outreach activities to ensure the safe handling and management of radium luminous devices.

IAEA Suggestion S1

IRRS text

S1. The Government should consider explicitly addressing SF-1, Principle 4 (Justification) in its legal framework.

Canada’s response

Not accepted. According to Principle 4 of the IAEA’s Safety Fundamentals No. SF-1, Fundamental Safety Principles, “for facilities and activities to be considered justified, the benefits that they yield must outweigh the radiation risks to which they give rise.”

Parliament has given the CNSC the statutory authority to regulate the nuclear industry in Canada. The CNSC achieves this through its licensing regime and the promulgation of regulations. Before authorizing an activity or the operation of a facility, the Commission is required to exercise judgment and to use its expertise to determine if an applicant satisfies the requirements under the Nuclear Safety and Control Act (NSCA). The Commission is guided in its decision making by its mandate, as provided for in the NSCA. This mandate is, in part, to regulate the development, production and use of nuclear energy in order to prevent unreasonable risk, to the environment and to the health and safety of persons, associated with that development, production, possession or use. Licensing under subsection 24(4) of the NSCA fundamentally involves assessing what risks are reasonable and therefore what risks are acceptable. This discretionary decision of reasonable vs. unreasonable risk is an exercise of justification and embodies the SF-1, Principle 4.

In addition to subsection 24(4) of the NSCA, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012 and the new Impact Assessment Act have the following factors required in the assessment:

  • (d) the purpose of and need for the designated project;
  • (e) alternative means of carrying out the designated project that are technically and economically feasible, including through the use of best available technologies, and the effects of those means;
  • (f) any alternatives to the designated project that are technically and economically feasible and are directly related to the designated project;

A proponent of a designated nuclear project is required to justify that the project is the best option – in terms of socio-economics, safety (including worker safety) and protection of the public and environment. It needs to do so by explaining the purpose and need for the project, and by assessing various alternatives to the project and alternative ways of carrying out the project. This is a sound and rigorous assessment of the justification of a project. The results of the assessment must be considered by the Commission prior to issuing a licence.

IAEA Suggestion S2 and Suggestion S3

IRRS text

S2. The Government should consider expressly assigning, in its legal framework, the prime responsibility for safety to the person or organization responsible for a facility or an activity.

S3. The Government should consider enhancing the legal framework to explicitly stipulate that compliance with regulations and requirements established or adopted by the regulatory body does not relieve the person or organization responsible for a facility or an activity of its prime responsibility for safety.

Canada’s response

Not accepted. Provisions in the NSCA and associated regulations already indicate that the prime responsibility for safety lies with the licensee. Parliament’s statement of the licensee’s primary responsibility for safety is spelled out in paragraph 24(4)(b) of the NSCA; the regulator cannot issue a licence unless it is satisfied that the applicant will adequately provide for the health and safety of persons, protection of the environment, national security and compliance by Canada with its international obligations. The responsibility is then translated into detailed obligations of licensees, as outlined generally in subsection 12(1) of the General Nuclear Safety and Control Regulations. This obligation is reiterated in REGDOC-3.5.3, Regulatory Fundamentals, which states that the licensee bears the primary responsibility for safety at all times, including compliance with regulatory requirements.

The licensing process consists of submission of a licence application, an assessment of the application by CNSC staff, and a decision by the Commission. The licensing basis sets the boundary conditions for a regulated activity, and establishes the basis for the CNSC’s compliance program for that regulated activity. All licensees are required to conduct their activities in accordance with the licensing basis, which is defined as a set of requirements and documents for a regulated activity comprising the following:

  1. The regulatory requirements set out in the applicable laws and regulations
  2. The conditions and safety and control measures described in the licence, and the documents directly referenced in that licence
  3. The safety and control measures described in the licence application and the documents needed to support that licence application

Documents needed to support the licence application are those documents that demonstrate that the applicant is qualified to carry out the licensed activity, and that appropriate provisions are in place to protect worker and public health and safety, to protect the environment, and to maintain national security and measures required to implement international obligations to which Canada has agreed.

Once a licence is issued, CNSC staff continue oversight through a compliance program. As stated in REGDOC-3.5.3, compliance is defined as conformity by regulated persons or organizations with the requirements of the NSCA, the regulations made under the NSCA, licences, certificates, decisions, and orders made by the CNSC.

In addition, the Nuclear Liability and Compensation Act (NLCA) establishes a compensation and liability regime that also reflects the prime responsibility of the operator. The NLCA reflects the international structure for third-party compensation for damage in the unlikely event of a nuclear accident, and it channels the financial liability for an accident entirely to the operator. Compliance with regulatory requirements does not relieve the operator from this responsibility.   

Under the NLCA, operators of nuclear power plants are responsible to pay up to $1 billion for civil damages resulting from a nuclear incident, and they must have insurance from an insurer approved by the Minister of Natural Resources Canada.

The CNSC undertakes necessary and reasonable measures to ensure licensee compliance with regulatory requirements, and it has the legal framework to support the implementation of these elements.

IAEA Recommendation R1

IRRS text

R1. The Government should enhance the existing policy and establish the associated strategy to give effect to the principles stated in the Canadian Radioactive Waste Management Policy Framework.

Canada’s response

Accepted. Canada's Radioactive Waste Policy Framework provides the overall principles for radioactive waste management and is supported by three pieces of legislation that govern the management of radioactive waste in Canada:

  • The Nuclear Safety and Control Act, which sets out the CNSC’s mandate, responsibilities and powers;
  • The Nuclear Fuel Waste Act, which provides the framework for progress on a long-term strategy for the management of nuclear fuel waste; and
  • The Impact Assessment Act (and previously, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012), which, while not being specific to radioactive waste management, establishes the legislative basis for the federal impact assessment process.

The Policy Framework clearly defines the role of government, and waste producers and owners. The government has the responsibility to develop policy, to regulate, to oversee producers and owners to ensure that they comply with legal requirements and meet their funding and operational responsibilities in accordance with approved waste disposal plans. It also makes clear that waste producers and owners are responsible, in accordance with the principle of “the polluter pays”, for the funding, organization, management and operation of disposal and other facilities required for their wastes.

Natural Resources Canada will review its existing policy for radioactive waste, and consider how it may be enhanced to give effect to the principles stated in the Radioactive Waste Policy Framework, including the establishment of an associated strategy.

Module 2 – The Global Safety Regime

In this module, the IRRS team identified one good practice.

IAEA Good Practice GP2

IRRS text

GP2. The CNSC has a comprehensive system for collecting, analysing and sharing regulatory experience feedback.

Canada’s response

Acknowledged as a good practice. The CNSC will continue to collect, analyze and share regulatory experience feedback.

Module 3 – Responsibilities and Functions of the Regulatory Body

In this module, the IRRS team identified one good practice and one suggestion.

IAEA Good Practice GP3

IRRS text

GP3. The CNSC is very committed to ensuring a high level of transparency and openness, through an established, systematic, accountable and comprehensive set of activities that ensure transparency, openness, involvement, dialogue and accountability with the public, stakeholders and interested parties about its regulatory activities and decisions.

Canada’s response

Acknowledged as a good practice. The CNSC continues to be committed to ensuring a high level of transparency and openness in support of its priority of being a trusted regulator.

IAEA Suggestion S4

IRRS text

S4. The CNSC should consider continuing to focus on its human resource management plan to ensure that CNSC continues to have access to a sufficient number of qualified and competent staff to regulate existing facilities and activities as well as new and emerging technologies in accordance with the nature of facilities.

Canada’s response

Accepted. The CNSC has invested considerable effort in human resources management to ensure that it has access to a sufficient number of qualified and competent staff to regulate existing facilities and activities as well as new and emerging technologies. In view of the changing regulatory and technological environment, the CNSC will continue to ensure that its upcoming human resource management (HRM) plan clearly identifies the core and emerging skill requirements of the organization and the workforce needed to execute its mandate. This will include defined strategies and actions to secure access to the necessary skills, along with clear performance measures to track progress. The new two-year HRM plan (2020–22) is expected to be in place by March 2020.

Module 4 – Management System of the Regulatory Body

In this module, the IRRS team identified one suggestion.

IAEA Suggestion S5

IRRS text

S5. CNSC should consider consolidating all elements of its safety policy into a single document.

Canada’s response

Accepted. At the CNSC, safety is an overriding priority and is emphasized over competing goals in all decisions and activities. The CNSC has an integrated management system that reflects the environment within which it operates, while ensuring that safety is never compromised. The CNSC does address all elements of its safety policy in its mandate as well as a variety of documents, including REGDOC-3.5.3, Regulatory Fundamentals, the CNSC Values and Ethics Code and the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector; however, it sees the interest in consolidation of information and appreciates the suggestion. For clarity, the CNSC will consolidate all elements related to safety policy into a single, formalized safety policy document by December 2020.

Module 5 – Authorization

In this module, the IRRS team identified one good practice, four suggestions and one recommendation.

IAEA Good Practice GP4

IRRS text

GP4. CNSC proactively developed extensive guidance and processes to assist potential applicants determine the content of the small modular reactor (SMR) application.

Canada’s response

Acknowledged as a good practice. The CNSC will continue to seek opportunities to provide guidance and processes to assist potential applicants in determining the content of an SMR application. This work supports the CNSC’s priority of a modern approach to nuclear regulation that uses science-based, risk-informed and technically sound practices.

IAEA Suggestion S6

IRRS text

S6. CNSC should consider revising its current and planned requirements in the area of decommissioning to align with the IAEA guidance that entombment is not considered an acceptable strategy for planned decommissioning of existing nuclear power plants (NPPs) and future nuclear facilities.

Canada’s response

Accepted. The CNSC’s regulatory framework is performance-based rather than prescriptive; however, the CNSC seeks alignment with international best practices. There may be legacy situations where immediate or deferred dismantling, or a combination thereof, is not a practical decommissioning strategy when all relevant factors are considered. In those cases, and in line with IAEA Safety Requirements, entombment could be considered an option when supported by a safety case. While the current text of draft REGDOC-2.11.2, Decommissioning, restricts the use of in situ decommissioning to uranium mines and mills, exceptional circumstances and legacy sites, the CNSC will include further text to explicitly reflect that in situ decommissioning should not be considered an acceptable strategy for planned decommissioning of existing NPPs and future nuclear facilities other than uranium mines. It is expected that Commission approval of REGDOC-2.11.2 will be sought in summer 2020. Currently, in situ decommissioning is not the selected decommissioning strategy for any existing Canadian NPPs. Canada considers itself to be in line with the IAEA safety standards relating to NPPs.

IAEA Suggestion S7

IRRS text

S7. CNSC should consider establishing a procedure to ensure the systematic implementation of justification in the authorisation of all practices involving radiation sources.

Canada’s response

Accepted. As previously stated, in Canada’s response to Suggestion S1, the Canadian regulatory framework embeds the concept of justification in the legislative framework and supporting regulatory requirements. During authorization review, CNSC staff verify that a proposal falls within the limits and activities outlined in the NSCA and supporting regulations and is therefore justified. Although the CNSC will not change how it operationally conducts authorization reviews, it will administratively update its internal procedures, in order to document how it systematically implements justification in the authorization of all practices involving radiation sources by June 2020.

IAEA Suggestion S8

IRRS text

S8. The CNSC should consider including notification alone as an option for the regulatory control of nuclear substances and radiation devices in accordance with a graded approach.

Canada’s response

Accepted. The CNSC has a comprehensive and risk-informed approach that focuses on ensuring the safety of all licensed activities in Canada, including low-risk applications. The IRRS team was of the opinion that the CNSC was overregulating very low-risk applications of nuclear substances and radiation devices. The CNSC will review and consider whether there is merit in moving to a notification scheme for some very-low risk applications that might not require the same level of review as those of higher risk, provided that they are used in accordance with appropriate standards. This consideration of including notification as appropriate for any activities regulated under the NSCA will be completed by December 2021. If this results in including notification alone as an option, the strategy to implement this option will be drafted by April 2022.

IAEA Recommendation R2 and Suggestion S9

IRRS text

R2. The CNSC should establish or approve dose constraints for all Class I type facilities.

S9. The CNSC should consider consistently implementing the concept of dose constraints for all facilities and standardising regulatory practice for derived release limits (DRLs).

Canada’s response

Accepted. This finding was identified by the CNSC through its self-assessment carried out prior to the peer review mission. The CNSC imposes dose limits for public exposure for all facility types and requires the application of BATEA (best available technologies economically achievable) to be demonstrated as part of a licence application. The CNSC has previously identified inconsistent application of dose constraints for derived release limits for Class I facilities. This is being addressed in draft REGDOC-2.9.2, Controlling Releases to the Environment, which will address the role of dose constraints in optimization and in support of the process for authorization of discharges. The public consultation of REGDOC-2.9.2 will take place in 2020 with the Commission approval being contemplated for 2021.

Module 6 – Review and Assessment

In this module, the IRRS team identified two good practices and one suggestion.

IAEA Good Practice GP5

IRRS text

GP5. The peer reviews adopted for certification of packages minimize the risk associated with the certification of higher risk designs and increases reliability and consistency of certificates issued by CNSC. They also improve communication and knowledge sharing among Certification Engineers.

Canada’s response

Acknowledged as a good practice. The CNSC will continue to seek opportunities to improve and maintain its package certification process, as part of its commitment to a comprehensive and state-of-the-art regulatory program that effectively ensures the safety of packaging and transport activities in Canada.

IAEA Good Practice GP6

IRRS Text

GP6. Health Canada has undertaken a strategic differentiation of messages on radon in order to effectively target sub-groups of the public. This represents an innovative and effective programme for raising awareness of radon and the necessary actions to mitigate it, targeting a point of time when people are more likely to be receptive to the message.

Canada’s response

Acknowledged as a good practice. Health Canada will share the results and lessons learned from experience in this area with other countries that are engaging in radon education and outreach.

IAEA Suggestion S10

IRRS text

S10. Health Canada should consider undertaking a survey of radionuclide levels in building materials or indoor gamma dose rates arising from building materials to determine if they make a significant contribution to public exposure.

Canada’s response

Accepted. Elements of the suggested survey have been previously conducted, and have indicated that there is little risk of significant gamma exposure from building materials (manufactured materials, such as concrete or bricks, as well as materials used in their natural form, such as granite or marble) used in Canada. Health Canada will consolidate and update the risk assessment in collaboration with relevant authorities, where necessary. Results will be used to determine whether further action is required. A recommendation regarding the need for further action to manage exposures to building materials will be determined by March 2021.

Module 7 – Inspection

In this module, the IRRS team identified three suggestions.

IAEA Suggestion S11

IRRS text

S11. CNSC should consider formalizing the practice of inspector exchanges between licensee locations for inspection assistance to ensure the operating experience and lessons learned from assisting other CNSC staff perform inspections at different licensee locations are maximized.

Canada’s response

Accepted. The CNSC already encourages and implements the practice of sharing operating experience and lessons learned among inspectors through multiple means, and it accepts the advisability of formalizing these means. For example, NPP inspectors participate in joint inspections with colleagues at other licensee locations for the purpose of sharing operating experience. These inspector exchanges enhance objectivity and independence as inspectors gain other inspection techniques and licensee engagement. Furthermore, CNSC inspectors from all service areas meet once a year at an annual Inspection Community Forum to exchange lessons learned, to present case studies and to propose improvements. The CNSC will review and formalize its current practices for inspector exchanges between licensee locations by September 2021 to maximize the current sharing of operating experience and lessons learned.

IAEA Suggestion S12

IRRS text

S12. CNSC should consider its process to formalise all elements used to ensure a comprehensive, regular review of the objectivity and independence of the on site inspectors.

Canada’s response

Accepted. The CNSC recognizes the importance of ensuring that staff who conduct inspections at nuclear facilities are well trained, with strong technical abilities and key personal attributes including objectivity and independence. A systematic approach to inspector training and qualification is used to certify inspectors. Training on objectivity and independence forms part of an inspector’s mandatory Inspection Fundamentals course. The CNSC recertifies each inspector every five years, and includes course refreshers as well as feedback from supervisors and peers regarding technical and key behavioural attributes.

Objectivity and independence are built into the compliance program in the following ways: having more than one inspector stationed at each site; regularly and systematically shifting and sharing responsibilities and areas of focus between inspectors; and having inspection reports drafted by an inspection team, reviewed by a supervisor and approved by offsite directors. There are also baseline compliance plans that identify areas that must be assessed and inspected on a set frequency. These plans are approved by management in both the CNSC’s Regulatory Operations Branch and Technical Support Branch to ensure objectivity and collaboration. Furthermore, quarterly review and integration meetings are held to provide a vehicle for management oversight and discussions on emerging trends that could trigger additional regulatory oversight activities. The CNSC will review its current practices by September 2021 and formalize the process elements that ensure the objectivity and independence of inspectors.

IAEA Suggestion S13

IRRS text

S13. The CNSC should consider performing unannounced inspections for uranium fuel fabrication, refining and conversion facilities.

Canada’s response

Accepted. The NSCA authorizes inspections to be either announced or unannounced. An announced inspection is conducted when the inspection outcome will likely not be affected by advance notification. An unannounced inspection is conducted when the inspection outcome is more than likely to be affected by advance notification. When determining if an unannounced inspection would be more effective, the CNSC also considers recent and historic licensee compliance performance data, events, and information provided by external sources outlining potential safety significant concerns. The CNSC will further codify how unannounced inspections will continue being considered as part of the Nuclear Fuel Cycle and Research Reactors Program by April 2020.

Module 8 – Enforcement

In this module, the IRRS team identified no good practices, suggestions or recommendations.

Module 9 – Regulations and Guides

In this module, the IRRS team identified three suggestions and two recommendations.

IAEA Suggestion S14

IRRS Text

S14. CNSC should consider implementing a systematic gap analysis between the IAEA requirements and the regulatory framework and updating the regulatory framework as necessary.

Canada’s response

Accepted. When the CNSC develops or reviews its regulatory instruments, it considers applicable IAEA safety standards within the regulatory framework, but this practice is not always systematically documented. To ensure consistent documentation of this practice, the CNSC’s management system document “Conduct Regulatory Policy Analysis” and associated templates was updated in December 2019. The document now notes the requirement to perform a systematic gap analysis against IAEA safety standards.

IAEA Suggestion S15

IRRS text

S15. CNSC should consider the requirements of Specific Safety Requirements (SSR)-4 and relevant IAEA guidance when specifying safety requirements and criteria for fuel cycle facilities.

Canada’s response

Accepted. The IRRS team observed that the CNSC regulatory framework does not directly reference IAEA Safety Standard SSR-4, Safety of Nuclear Fuel Cycle Facilities. CNSC staff use technical assessment reference matrices (TARMs) to review licence applications. The TARM reviewed by the IRRS team included IAEA Safety Standard NS-R-5, Safety of Nuclear Fuel Cycle Facilities, which was superseded by SSR-4 in 2017. CNSC staff will update the current TARMs with information and reference to SSR-4 and other IAEA guidance related to fuel cycle facilities in the next revision of the TARM, scheduled for 2020.

When the CNSC develops or reviews its regulatory instruments, consideration is given to applicable IAEA safety standards within the regulatory framework.

IAEA Suggestion S16

IRRS text

S16. The CNSC should consider establishing or adopting guidance aligned with IAEA TS-G-1.4.

Canada’s response

Accepted. The CNSC’s regulatory oversight of packaging and transport aligns with the IAEA’s SSR-6, Regulations for the Safe Transport of Radioactive Material, and the associated Safety Guides. Canada’s Packaging and Transport of Nuclear Substances Regulations, 2015 contain a specific link to SSR-6, but do not explicitly reference the guidance material. During the next revision of REGDOC-2.14.1, Information Incorporated by Reference in Canada’s Packaging and Transport of Nuclear Substances Regulations, 2015, the CNSC will add an explicit reference to all relevant IAEA Safety Guides. This revision of REGDOC-2.14.1, which is expected to be in 2021, will coincide with the coming into effect of IAEA SSR-6 (2018).

IAEA Recommendation R3

IRRS text

R3. CNSC should ensure that the radiation protection requirements are consistent with the requirements of General Safety Requirements (GSR) Part 3.

Canada’s response

Accepted. The CNSC has established a systematic, regular review of existing regulations and regulatory documents. This ensures that Canada’s nuclear regulatory regime is comprehensive and up to date, reflects relevant changes in technology and international practices, and meets the needs of Canadians.

The CNSC is currently finalizing a revision to the Radiation Protection Regulations, and anticipates that these regulatory amendments will be made in early 2020. This update represents more than six years of work and stakeholder consultation. The revised regulations will be more consistent with the requirements of GSR Part 3 while taking into account the CNSC’s comprehensive framework for safety and the needs of Canadians.

As part of its ongoing review cycle of regulatory instruments, the CNSC will continue to examine relevant international standards and recommendations in order to identify areas for improvement that enhance safety. 

IAEA Recommendation R4

IRRS text

R4. The CNSC should revise its guidance for package design certification applications to align it with IAEA SSR-6.

Canada’s response

Accepted. The CNSC’s regulatory document, RD-364, Joint Canada-United States Guide for Approval of Type B(U) and Fissile Material Transportation Packages, currently contains references to a previous edition of the IAEA’s SSR-6, Regulations for the Safe Transport of Radioactive Material. While the contents of the document are still accurate, the references need to be updated to reflect the current 2018 edition of SSR-6. The CNSC will continue to work with counterparts at the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the United States Department of Transportation to revise RD-364 as soon as the U.S. has completed updating its domestic transport regulations. In the meantime, RD-364 remains a helpful guide for applicants to ensure that applications for Type B(U) packages include all relevant information for obtaining both a Canadian and a U.S. package certification. The revised RD-364 is expected to be published in 2023.

Module 10 – Emergency Preparedness and Response

Since the Government of Canada hosted an EPREV mission in June 2019, it was agreed that the IRRS Module 10, on emergency preparedness and response, would be included in Canada’s EPREV mission. This module was therefore excluded from the scope of Canada’s IRRS mission.

Module 11 – Interfaces with Nuclear Security

In this module, the IRRS team identified no good practices, suggestions or recommendations.

Conclusion

The CNSC recognizes the importance of international peer reviews and is committed to regulatory excellence in the nuclear sector. As a continued demonstration of this commitment, Canada hosted an IRRS mission in September 2019, in order to review elements of Canada’s framework for safety, as well as the CNSC’s core regulatory processes for all aspects of the nuclear fuel cycle.

The IRRS mission confirmed that the CNSC has a strong regulatory framework and continues to ensure the safe operation of nuclear facilities in Canada. The mission to Canada provided valuable insights for Canada and the other participating parties. Along with a number of good practices, the CNSC and other Canadian federal departments were presented with suggestions and recommendations to further improve Canada’s oversight of the nuclear industry, including the CNSC’s regulatory framework. All the input received was carefully reviewed and considered. A response for each recommendation, suggestion and good practice is provided in the report. All actions arising from recommendations and suggestions, along with the associated timelines for completion, are summarized in appendix A of this report. These defined actions show Canada’s commitment to addressing the findings arising from the 2019 IRRS mission, and will be considered the measures for determining whether recommendations and suggestions have been fully addressed prior to the IRRS follow-up mission.

The CNSC will continue to share progress related to continuous improvement initiatives resulting from the 2019 IRRS mission in an open and transparent manner.

Appendix A: Canada’s commitments in preparation for the Integrated Regulatory Review Service follow-up mission

Finding Action to address finding Timeline for completion
Module 1 – Responsibilities and Function of the Government
S1 No actions are required. Detailed information is available in Canada’s response to the 2019 IRRS Report.
S2 / S3 No actions are required. Detailed information is available in Canada’s response to the 2019 IRRS Report.
R1 Natural Resources Canada will review its existing policy for radioactive waste, and consider how it may be enhanced to give effect to the principles stated in the Radioactive Waste Policy Framework, including the establishment of an associated strategy. The review will be completed prior to the IRRS follow-up mission.
Module 2 – The Global Safety Regime
No recommendations/suggestions were identified in this module.
Module 3 – Responsibilities and Functions of the Regulatory Body
S4 The CNSC will continue to ensure that its upcoming two-year human resource management plan clearly identifies the core and emerging skill requirements of the organization and the workforce needed to execute its mandate. The new two-year human resource management plan (2020–22) will be in place by March 2020.
Module 4 – Management System of the Regulatory Body
S5 The CNSC will consolidate existing elements into a single formalized safety policy document. The policy will be completed by December 2020.
Module 5 – Authorization
S6 The CNSC will update its regulatory document, REGDOC-2.11.2, Decommissioning, to explicitly reflect the CNSC’s recognition that in situ decommissioning should not be considered an acceptable strategy for planned decommissioning of existing nuclear power plants and future nuclear facilities other than uranium mines. It is expected that Commission approval of the regulatory document will be sought in summer 2020.
S7 The CNSC will administratively update internal procedures to document how it systematically implements justification in the authorization of all practices involving radiation sources. Internal procedures will be updated by June 2020.
S8 The CNSC will review and consider whether there is merit in moving to a notification scheme for some very low-risk applications. The consideration of including notification as appropriate for any activities regulated under the Nuclear Safety and Control Act will be completed by December 2021. If this results in including notification alone as an option, the strategy to implement this option will be drafted by April 2022.
R2 / S9 The CNSC will update its regulatory document, REGDOC-2.9.2, Controlling Releases to the Environment, to address inconsistency in the application of dose constraints for derived release limits for Class I facilities. The public consultation of the regulatory document will take place in 2020 with Commission approval being contemplated for 2021.
Module 6 – Review and Assessment
S10 Prior surveys have indicated that there is little risk of significant gamma exposure from building materials (manufactured materials, such as concrete and bricks, as well as materials used in their natural form, such as granite and marble) used in Canada. Health Canada will consolidate and, where necessary, update the risk assessment in collaboration with relevant authorities. Results will be used to determine whether further action is required. A recommendation will be determined regarding the need for further action to manage exposures to building materials. A recommendation regarding the need for further action to manage exposures to building materials will be determined by March 2021.
Module 7 – Inspection
S11 The CNSC will review and formalize its current practices for inspector exchanges between licensee locations to maximize the current sharing of operating experience and lessons learned. The review and formalization will be completed by September 2021.
S12 The CNSC will review its current practices and formalize the process elements that ensure the objectivity and independence of inspectors.  The review and formalization will be completed by September 2021.
S13 The CNSC will further codify how unannounced inspections will continue being considered as part of the Nuclear Fuel Cycle and Research Reactors Program. This will be codified by April 2020.
Module 8 – Enforcement
No recommendations/suggestions were identified in this module.
Module 9 – Regulations and Guides
S14 The CNSC will update its management system document “Conduct Regulatory Policy Analysis” and associated templates to note the requirement to perform a systematic gap analysis against International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safety standards. This was action was completed in December 2019.
S15 The CNSC will update the current Technical Assessment Reference Matrices (TARMs) with information and reference to SSR-4 and other IAEA guidance related to fuel cycle facilities in the next scheduled revision. This will be addressed in the next TARM revision, scheduled for 2020.
S16 In its next revision of regulatory document, REGDOC-2.14.1, Information Incorporated by Reference in Canada’s Packaging and Transport of Nuclear Substances Regulations, 2015, the CNSC will incorporate an explicit reference to all relevant IAEA Safety Guides. The regulatory document is expected to be published in 2021.
R3 The CNSC is currently finalizing a revision to the Radiation Protection Regulations. This update represents more than six years of work and stakeholder consultation. The revised regulations will be more consistent with the requirements of General Safety Requirements Part 3; while taking into account the CNSC’s comprehensive framework for safety and the needs of Canadians. As part of its ongoing review cycle of regulatory instruments, the CNSC will continue to examine relevant international standards and recommendations to identify areas for improvement that enhance safety. 
R4 The CNSC will revise its regulatory document, RD-364, Joint Canada-United States Guide for Approval of Type B(U) and Fissile Material Transportation Packages, to include references to reflect the current 2018 edition of SSR-6. The revised regulatory document is expected to be published in 2023.
Module 10 – Emergency Preparedness and Response
This module was included in Canada’s Emergency Preparedness Review mission and thus excluded from the scope of Canada’s IRRS mission.
Module 11 – Interfaces with Nuclear Security
No recommendations/suggestions were identified in this module.
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