Canadian nuclear plant safety to be reviewed
The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission has established a task force to evaluate the operational, technical and regulatory implications of the nuclear disaster in Japan in relation to Canadian power plants.
The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex was badly damaged by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan’s northeast coast and continues to release radiation into the environment as officials work desperately to get the plant’s reactors under control.
The Canadian commission decided to set up the task force at its March 30 meeting.
"The task force members will review licensees' responses to the CNSC’s request for information under subsection 12(2) of the General Nuclear Safety and Control Regulation to re-examine the safety cases of their respective nuclear facilities, the underlying defence-in-depth against external hazards, severe accident scenarios and emergency preparedness procedures and guidelines," a CNSC news release said.
Canada has seven nuclear generating stations located at five sites in Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick.
The task force’s job will be to recommend short- and long-term measures to address any significant gaps at Canadian nuclear power plants and determine whether any design modifications are required.
The task force will recommend, if appropriate, potential changes to regulatory requirements, inspection programs and policies for existing CANDU reactors and potential new nuclear power plants, according to the commission's release.
Members will also determine priorities for the implementation of corrective actions based on the lessons learned and the need, if any, for further examination. The task force will present its findings to the commission at a public forum, although the date has not yet been decided.
The task force will be chaired by Greg Rzentkowski, the director-general of nuclear power plant regulation, and members will include senior experts in reactor design, safety assessment, and emergency preparedness and response.
The most recent accident at a Canadian nuclear plant was in mid-March when 73,000 litres of demineralized water leaked into Lake Ontario from the Pickering A nuclear generating station.
Ontario Power Generation, which operates the plant located 35 kilometres east of Toronto, told the CNSC a pump seal failure was the cause.
Ontario Power Generation said the risk was minimal but that such leaks are not supposed to occur.