This report assesses Canadian facilities that process uranium and nuclear substances and focuses on the three safety and control areas (SCAs) of radiation protection, environmental protection, and conventional health and safety. The report also highlights facility public information programs, ratings for all 14 SCAs, reportable events, significant facility modifications, and areas of increased regulatory focus.
The report covers the following uranium processing facilities: Blind River Refinery, Port Hope Conversion Facility, Cameco Fuel Manufacturing Inc., and BWXT Nuclear Energy Canada Inc. (formerly GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy Canada). The report also covers the following nuclear substance processing facilities: SRB Technologies (Canada) Inc., Nordion (Canada) Inc., and Best Theratronics Limited.
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission's (NRC's) regulatory framework for reactor oversight is a risk-informed, tiered approach to ensuring plant safety. There are three key strategic performance areas: reactor safety, radiation safety, and safeguards. Within each strategic performance area are cornerstones that reflect the essential safety aspects of facility operation.
The revised oversight program continues to use a variety of NRC inspectors who monitor plant activities. The program includes baseline inspections common to all nuclear plants. The baseline inspection program, based on the cornerstone areas, focuses on activities and systems that are \"risk significant\" (in other words, those activities and systems that have a potential to trigger an accident, can mitigate the effects of an accident, or can increase the consequences of a possible accident). The inspection program will also review the cross-cutting issues of human performance, the safety-conscious work environment, and how the utilities find and fix problems. The NRC will perform inspections beyond the baseline at plants with performance below established thresholds, as assessed through information gained from performance indicators and NRC inspections. The NRC may also perform additional inspections in response to a specific event or problem that may arise at a plant.
The oversight program uses the same tools that the NRC has traditionally used when dealing with declining plant performance and violations. However, the NRC now uses these tools in a more predictable manner that is commensurate with the decreased safety performance. In the past, the NRC tended to use fines as a prime indicator of agency concern and as a motivator for licensee corrective actions. Under the new approach, there is a system of specified agency actions if performance declines. The NRC will now generally reserve fines for such things as discriminating against workers raising safety concerns or for willfully misreporting required information.
The previous ROP evolved over a period of time when the nuclear power industry was less mature and there was much less operational experience on which to base rules and regulations. Very conservative judgments governed the rules and regulations. Because significant plant operating events occurred, the oversight process tended to be reactive and prescriptive, closely observing plant performance for adherence to the regulations and responding to operational problems as they occurred.
The previous oversight program relied more heavily on fines when violations occurred, while the new program will make broader use of other enforcement tools such as orders and other formal regulatory actions. Under the previous program, the NRC often issued fines long after the violations occurred and the amounts of the fines were substantially less than the cost of repairs or the costs associated with a shutdown to correct the violations. The new process is intended to be more effective in correcting performance or equipment problems because the agency's response will be both timelier and more predictable.
Nuclear power plants have been producing electricity commercially in Canada since the early 1960s. Today, five plants in three provinces house 22 nuclear power reactors. Nuclear energy produces about 15 percent of Canada's electricity. The CNSC has a team of technical experts and onsite inspectors to ensure that rigorous oversight of plant operation is maintained, in order to protect the public and the environment.
The CNSC also collaborates with international partners, including the International Atomic Energy Agency and its foreign counterparts. Every three years, the CNSC publishes a comprehensive report as part of the Convention on Nuclear Safety, following up on its commitment to maintain a high level of safety at all nuclear power plants.
When the CNSC receives an application for a new plant, its experts work in multidisciplinary teams to undertake an environmental assessment and a technical assessment, using the same 14 safety and control areas that form the basis of any future licensing and regulatory oversight.
The CNSC's role is to ensure that decommissioning activities are carried out in accordance with CNSC regulatory requirements to ensure protection of the workers, the public and the environment, and to implement Canada's international commitments on the peaceful use of nuclear energy.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is responsible for overseeing the nation's 103 commercial nuclear power plants to ensure they are operated safely. The safety of these plants has always been important, since an accident could release harmful radioactive material. NRC's oversight has become even more critical as the potential resurgence of nuclear power is considered. NRC implemented a new Reactor Oversight Process (ROP) in 2000 to address weaknesses in its oversight of nuclear plant safety. In this report, GAO reviewed (1) how NRC oversees nuclear power plants, (2) the results of the ROP over the past several years, and (3) the status of NRC's efforts to improve the ROP. To complete this work, GAO analyzed programwide information, inspection results covering 5 years of ROP operations, and detailed findings from a nonprobability sample of 11 plants.
GAO was asked to review DOE's management of nuclear energy demonstration awards. This report (1) describes awards DOE has made to support the demonstration of small modular and advanced reactors; and (2) examines actions DOE is taking to manage risks associated with awards.
GAO is recommending that DOE institutionalize via documentation its processes for providing oversight for large nuclear energy demonstration projects, including the use of external independent reviews. DOE agreed with GAO's recommendation.
Written for use by regulatory bodies and their technical support organizations, and those individuals supporting human performance activities and programmes, this publication addresses the definition and implementation of an oversight programme that adequately takes into account human and organizational factors to oversee safety throughout the lifetime of nuclear installations. A key concept is that safety is the result of interaction between humans, technology and the organization. Based on the outcome of several international meetings, this publication presents the main elements to be used to enhance regulatory oversight capabilities and describes the essential concepts and terms used in the area of human and organizational factors. It is intended to help in the development of regulations and guides related to these factors, stressing the key role of the licensee's management system in establishing and maintaining conditions to support people at work. The TECDOC describes ways to verify compliance with regulatory requirements related to human and organizational factors, as well as ways to better understand associated trends and conclusions, using an integrated safety assessment approach.
Relevant aspects of the NWMO's work will also comply with applicable provincial regulatory requirements. For example, some aspects of siting or construction of the project and the transportation of used nuclear fuel may be governed by provincial legislation:
The consequence of the long history of regulatory activities is that Federal regulations now affect virtually all individuals, businesses, State, local, and tribal governments, and other organizations in virtually every aspect of their lives or operations. It bears emphasis that regulations themselves are authorized by and derived from law. No regulation is valid unless the Department or agency is authorized by Congress to take the action in question. In virtually all instances, regulations either interpret or implement statutes enacted by Congress. Some regulations are based on old statutes; others on relatively new ones. Some regulations are critically important (such as the safety criteria for airlines or nuclear power plants); some are relatively trivial (such as setting the times that a draw bridge may be raised or lowered). But each has the force and effect of law and each must be taken seriously.
In this way, the Carter Administration helped to institutionalize both regulatory review by the Executive Office of the President and the utility of benefit-cost analysis for regulatory decision makers. Also, in an important legal ruling, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia in Sierra Club v. Costle (657 F. 2d 298 (1981)) found that a part of the President's administrative oversight responsibilities was to review regulations issued by his subordinates.
During the Presidential campaign of 1980, the issue was not whether to continue a regulatory review oversight program, but whether to strengthen it. President Reagan had made regulatory relief one of his four pillars for economic growth -- in addition to reducing government spending, tax cuts, and steady monetary growth. He specifically used the term \"regulatory relief\" rather than \"regulatory reform\" to emphasize his desire to cut back regulations, not just make them more cost effective. One of his first acts as President was to issue Executive Order 12291, \"Federal Regulation\" (February 17, 1981). 59ce067264