This report provides information on the status and development of nuclear power programmes in Canada, including factors related to the effective planning, decision making and implementation of the nuclear power programme that together lead to safe and economical operations of nuclear power plants.
The CNPP summarizes organizational and industrial aspects of nuclear power programmes and provides information about the relevant legislative, regulatory and international framework in Canada.
Canada has been a world leader in nuclear energy since the development of Canada’s own CANDU reactor technology by Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. (AECL) in 1952. Rooted in this history, nuclear energy is an important part of Canada’s current clean energy mix, and will continue to play a key role in achieving the country’s low carbon future. This includes not only the contributions of nuclear to Canada’s clean energy mix, but continued investments in Canada’s nuclear science and technology capabilities, and exploration of the potential applications of new nuclear technologies, including small modular reactors.
Nuclear energy is the second largest source of non-emitting electricity in Canada, with 19 commercial nuclear power reactors located in Ontario and New Brunswick that produce approximately 15% of Canada’s electricity supply. This includes approximately 60% of the electricity supply in the province of Ontario, and 33% in New Brunswick. Canada is also the world’s second largest uranium producer, with over 20% of total world production coming from mines in Saskatchewan. Eighty-five percent of Canada’s uranium production is exported for use in nuclear power throughout the world.
1. COUNTRY ENERGY OVERVIEW
1.1. ENERGY INFORMATION
1.1.1. Energy policy
The responsibilities of the federal and provincial levels of government with respect to energy are clearly delineated in the Canadian Constitution. Provincial governments are the direct managers of most of the country’s natural resources, and have responsibility for energy management within their borders. The federal government is responsible for international and interprovincial trade and energy infrastructure, as well as the regulation of nuclear energy and uranium, and the management of energy resources on federal Crown land, offshore and in the northern territories. As such the primary principles that guide Canadian energy policy are:
Respect for jurisdictional authority and the role of the provinces and territories.
Market orientation: Competitive markets are generally the most efficient means of determining supply, demand, prices and trade while ensuring an efficient, competitive and innovative energy system that is responsive to Canada’s energy needs.
Targeted interventions: When markets cannot achieve policy objectives, the government should intervene through regulation or other means. These policy objectives include issues of science and technology, health and safety (e.g., pipeline regulation) and environmental sustainability.
Canadian energy policies have evolved to reflect individual provincial, territorial or regional strengths. For example, Quebec and Manitoba, both rich in hydroelectricity resources, have remarkably clean power systems in place and are looking for opportunities to increase electrification, such as in transportation. Meanwhile, hydro-poor but fossil fuel–rich provinces such as Alberta and Saskatchewan have developed energy systems that are far more reliant on hydrocarbons. Federal, provincial and territorial governments have a wide range of policies aimed at increasing the uptake of clean energy.
The Government of Canada seeks to enable the environmentally responsible production and use of energy, while ensuring the growth and competitiveness of the Canadian economy, along with the availability of secure and competitively priced energy and the protection of energy infrastructure. Canada is an energy intensive country, and current federal energy policies focus on:
Promoting renewables and non-emitting electricity generation;
Encouraging energy efficiency;
Developing cleaner fossil fuel applications and alternatives.
These efforts are supported by an emphasis on innovation — through research, development and deployment of clean technologies and practices.
In May 2015, Canada announced its commitment to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. This commitment has been made possible by the combined efforts of the federal, provincial and territorial governments in reducing emissions.
In December 2015, Canada was one of 177 countries that adopted the Paris Agreement at the 21st Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Canada supported targets to hold the increase in global average temperature to “well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels” and pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
In December 2016, the federal, provincial, and territorial governments announced the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change. The framework builds on measures that provinces and territories have already taken to inform the development and submission of Canada’s 2030 GHG emissions reduction commitment and its long term low GHG emission development strategy. Canada is implementing the Pan-Canadian Framework, including through federal investments in clean energy innovation.
1.1.2. Estimated available energy
TABLE 1: ESTIMATED AVAILABLE ENERGY RESOURCES
|Estimated available energy sources|
|Total amount in specific units*||8.9||27.01||1 982.2||509 000||160|
*Recoverable under current technological and economic conditions (solid, end of 2011; liquid, end of 2015; gas, end of 2014; hydro, end of 2014; other renewable, 2015).
**Solid: billion tonnes; liquid, gas: billion m3; uranium: tU; hydro, renewable: GW.
n.a.: Data not applicable.
Sources: Natural Resources Canada, World Nuclear Association, Canadian Hydropower Association.
1.1.3. Energy statistics
TABLE 2: ENERGY STATISTICS
|Year||1980||1990||2000||2005||2010||2015||Compound annual growth rate (%)
|- Primary electricity****||1.1||1.5||1.7||1.8||1.7||2.1||1.4|
|- Primary electricity****||1.3||1.9||2.1||2.3||2.3||1.7||0.9 –.7|
|Net import (Import–Export)|
** Energy consumption = Primary energy consumption + Net import (Import–Export) of secondary energy.
*** Solid fuels include coal, lignite.
**** Includes nuclear and hydro.
Source: International Energy Agency Database.
1.2. THE ELECTRICITY SYSTEM
1.2.1. Electricity policy and decision making process
Under the Constitution, electricity generation, transmission, and distribution falls primarily under the jurisdiction of the provinces. The provincial governments, along with the governments of Yukon and Northwest Territories own their natural resources. Provinces are responsible for most aspects of regulation and energy sector development within their geographical boundaries, including electricity policy and planning. While the three territories do not share these constitutional authorities, jurisdiction over electrical energy has been devolved to them under the Yukon Act, the Northwest Territories Act, and the Nunavut Act, respectively. The provinces and territories therefore have the authority to govern their electricity systems. A province or territory is free to decide the sources of its electricity supply and the design of its electricity markets. The Federal Government’s role is restricted to nuclear energy policy and regulation, the regulation of international transmission lines and electricity exports, and the regulation of interprovincial transmission lines that are designated by the Governor in Council. Both levels of governments are involved in electricity research.
As a result, each province and territory has its own electricity policy and regulatory framework. All provinces, except for Yukon, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Northwest Territories, have adopted a regulated monopoly model for transmission and distribution. Some provinces and territories have also adopted the same model for generation, while others have opened generation to competition. In many provinces and territories, electricity is primarily supplied by a vertically integrated electric utility. Although some of these utilities are privately owned, most are Crown corporations owned by the provincial and territorial governments.
With the exception of Saskatchewan, each province and territory has an arms length board that regulates the provincial electricity system, including construction activities and electricity rates. In Saskatchewan, the provincial Cabinet, with advice from a review panel, is responsible for approving electricity rates.
1.2.2. Structure of electric power sector
Canada has an exceptionally clean electricity generation system, with nearly 81% of electricity supply coming from non–greenhouse gas emitting sources in 2016. Canada’s hydroelectric resources represent a large part of this supply, totalling about 60% of total electricity supply. That said, the provincial and territorial electricity supply portfolios are quite varied. Newfoundland and Labrador, British Columbia, Manitoba, Yukon and Quebec rely primarily on hydroelectricity (with shares exceeding 90% of provincial supply). Hydro and nuclear represent the major sources of electricity in Ontario. Coal and natural gas dominate in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia. In New Brunswick, nuclear, hydro, natural gas and coal each play roles. Northwest Territories and Nunavut rely primarily on diesel, while wind and diesel play relatively equal roles on Prince Edward Island, along with imports from New Brunswick.
Since the 1990s, the structure of the electricity industry has undergone significant change. Most provinces and territories have moved from the traditional model of provincially regulated and vertically integrated monopolies towards a more competitive system with the private sector playing an increasing role. In Alberta and Ontario, a bid based model exists between local distribution companies and both large and small generators, while in other provinces and territories independent power producers are able to sell power only to the major utility that provides most of the generation, transmission and distribution services.
The main drivers for this type of restructuring include political support for competitive markets, technological developments (e.g. gas turbines) that have led to smaller generating stations, development of variable renewable generation, and the need to seek lower electricity costs for industrial customers.
The following table indicates the entities involved in providing electricity generation, transmission and distribution services in each province and territory.
|British Columbia||Nearly all generation, transmission and distribution services are provided by BC Hydro, a provincial Crown corporation. BC Hydro has signed long term power purchase agreements with some independent power producers developing renewable energy projects smaller than 200 MW(e). Fortis BC, a private utility also generates, transmits and distributes electricity to 170 000 customers in the southern part of the province.|
|Alberta||The generation market is competitive, with a number of companies generating electricity in the province. Transmission services are provided under the regulated monopoly model by AltaLink and ATCO Electric; there are distinct service areas in which these two companies have monopolies. Distribution services are provided under the regulated monopoly model by a number of firms with distinct service areas.|
|Saskatchewan||SaskPower a provincial Crown corporation, provides nearly all generation, transmission and distribution services. SaskPower has signed long term power purchase agreements with some independent power producers.|
|Manitoba||Manitoba Hydro, a provincial Crown corporation, provides nearly all generation, transmission and distribution services.|
|Ontario||Ontario has a complex hybrid electricity framework. Generation is partly regulated, partly unregulated; transmission services are provided by HydroOne, a publicly traded, regulated monopoly with mixed provincial and private ownership, and distribution services are provided under the regulated monopoly model by a number of firms with distinct service areas.|
|Quebec||Hydro-Québec, a provincial Crown corporation, provides nearly all generation, transmission and distribution services. Hydro-Québec has signed long term power purchase agreements with some independent power producers.|
|New Brunswick||New Brunswick Power Corporation (NB Power), a provincial Crown corporation, provides nearly all generation, transmission and distribution services. NB Power has signed long term power purchase agreements with some independent power producers.|
|Nova Scotia||Nova Scotia Power, which is privately held by Emera Inc., a publicly traded company, operates in a regulated monopoly environment, and provides nearly all generation, transmission and distribution services. Nova Scotia Power has signed long term power purchase agreements with some independent power producers.|
|Prince Edward Island (PEI)||Maritime Electric, which is privately held by Fortis Inc., a publicly traded company, operates in a regulated monopoly environment, and provides nearly all electricity supply, transmission and distribution services. Most of PEI’s power is imported from New Brunswick. Maritime Electric has signed long term power purchase agreements with some independent power producers.|
|Newfoundland and Labrador||Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro generates most of the electricity in the province, and provides transmission and distribution services in Labrador, the Great Northern Peninsula of Newfoundland and the smaller communities along the southern coast of Newfoundland. Newfoundland Power, a private company held by Fortis Inc., a publicly traded company, provides most transmission and distribution services in the more populated areas of Newfoundland.|
|Yukon||Generation, transmission and distribution services in Yukon are provided by Yukon Energy Corporation, a territorially owned Crown corporation, and Yukon Electrical, a private company owned by ATCO Inc., a publicly traded company.|
|Northwest Territories||Generation, transmission and distribution services in the Northwest Territories are provided by Northwest Territories Power Corporation, a territorially owned Crown corporation, and Northland Utilities Ltd, which is primarily owned by ATCO Electric.|
|Nunavut||Generation, transmission and distribution services in Nunavut are provided by Qulliq Energy Corporation.|
1.2.3. Main indicators
Given the diversity of provincial and territorial electricity markets and electricity resources, the use of various sources for base load, intermediate and peak load depend on the province or territory. However, in most cases, hydro, nuclear and coal are used for base load, while natural gas, petroleum and hydro are used in intermediate and peak situations. Wind and other renewables are growing sources of energy in several provinces.
TABLE 3: INSTALLED CAPACITY, ELECTRICITY PRODUCTION AND CONSUMPTION
|Year||1980||1990||2000||2005||2010||2016||Compound annual growth rate (%)
|Capacity of electrical plants (GW(e))|
|- Other renewable||—||—||—||—||—||2.7||—|
|Electricity production (TWh)|
|- other renewable||—||—||—||—||—||3.0||—|
|Total electricity consumption (TWh)||340.1||465.4||550.2||580.5||570.4||584.2||0.4|
*Electricity transmission losses are not deducted.
** Includes producer consumption.
—: Data not available.
Sources: Natural Resources Canada, Statistics Canada Catalogues 57-003, 57-202 and 57-206, CANSIM Table 128-0017, and micro data from the Electric Power Generating Stations Survey, the Electricity Supply and Disposition Survey and the Electric Power Thermal Generating Station Fuel Consumption Survey.
TABLE 4: ENERGY RELATED RATIOS
|Energy consumption per capita (GJ/capita)||334||309||335||338||293||300|
|Electricity consumption per capita (kWh/capita)||13 823||16 736||17 873||17 943||16 712||16 621 (2016)|
|Electricity production/Energy production (%)||12||11||10||10||10||9|
|Nuclear/Total electricity (%)||10||15||12||14||16||15|
|Ratio of external dependency (%)*||–4||–34||–52||–52||–62||–75|
* Net import/Total energy consumption.
Note: Table 128-0009 has been terminated and replaced with Table 128-0016. Comparisons with earlier data (pre 2000) should be done with caution.
Source: Natural Resources Canada, Statistics Canada (Tables 128-0009, 128-0016).
2. NUCLEAR POWER SITUATION
2.1. HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENT AND CURRENT ORGANIZATIONAL STRUCTURE
Canada was one of the first countries to develop a civilian nuclear power programme after the Second World War. It has since developed the Canada Deuterium Uranium (CANDU) reactor, which uses pressurized fuel channels instead of a pressure vessel, natural uranium fuel instead of enriched uranium, and heavy water as a coolant/moderator instead of the light water that is found in pressurized water reactor designs. CANDU reactors have been successfully sold and operated in Canada, as well as abroad. There are currently 19 CANDU reactors in operation in Canada. Nuclear energy provides about 15% of Canada’s electricity needs.
The many milestones of the Canadian nuclear programme are (individual reactor capacity figures are approximate, refer to Table 5 for more detailed information):
In 1955, AECL, Ontario Hydro and Canadian General Electric made a commitment to build the first small scale prototype 22 MW(e) CANDU reactor in Rolphton, Ontario, which began supplying the Ontario power grid in 1962.
A larger prototype was constructed at Douglas Point, Ontario. The 200 MW(e) reactor went into service in 1967; these two reactors established the technological base for the larger commercial units to follow and launched Canada’s nuclear programme.
Two 500 MW(e) reactors at Pickering, Ontario, were committed to under a tripartite agreement between Ontario Hydro, AECL and the federal government; Ontario Hydro later committed to two more units to build an integrated 4 unit station; the units (Pickering A) came into operation between 1971 and 1973.
Gentilly-1, a 250 MW(e) boiling light water reactor was constructed in Bécancour, Québec. It was put into service in 1972 and operated intermittently until 1978.
Conceptual design studies on the Bruce A station were initiated in 1968; the 4×800 MW(e) unit Bruce A station came into service from 1977 to 1979.
AECL developed the CANDU 6 reactor design and was successful in selling four of these in the early to mid-1970s: Gentilly-2 (Hydro-Québec, 1973), Point Lepreau (New Brunswick, 1974) and two abroad.
In July 1974, Ontario Hydro decided to add 4 units to the Pickering site; these came into service as Pickering B from 1983 to 1986.
Four additional units (Bruce B) came into service from 1984 to 1987; four 900 MW(e) units at Darlington came into service from 1989 to 1994.
Seven units at Bruce A and Pickering A were laid up from 1995 to 1998 pending refurbishment after an independent review of the plant’s operations.
Pickering A Units 4 and 1 were subsequently refurbished and returned to service in 2003 and 2005, respectively. In 2005, Ontario Power Generation (OPG) — previously known as Ontario Hydro — decided that Units 2 and 3 would remain in safe shutdown state and not be refurbished.
In 2001, OPG entered into an agreement with Bruce Power, a private sector consortium, to lease its Bruce A and Bruce B nuclear generation station; Bruce Power successfully restarted Units 3 and 4 of Bruce A in 2004 and 2003, respectively. In 2005, it undertook a multibillion dollar project to refurbish and restart units 1 and 2.
In 2002, through the Nuclear Fuel Waste Act, the Government of Canada assigned responsibility for the long term management of Canada’s used nuclear fuel to the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO), established by OPG, Hydro-Québec, New Brunswick Power Corporation and AECL on a not for profit basis.
In 2007, the Government of Canada accepted the NWMO’s recommendation of Adaptive Phased Management (APM), for the long term management of nuclear fuel waste in Canada. This approach includes isolating and containing nuclear fuel waste in a deep geologic repository (DGR).
In November 2007, Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources announced a review of AECL. In May 2009, the Government announced that it was moving forward with a restructuring of AECL and on 2 October 2011, the Government of Canada completed the sale of the assets of AECL’s CANDU Reactor Division to Candu Energy Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of SNC-Lavalin.
In February 2010, OPG announced its intention to proceed with the refurbishment of its four nuclear power reactors at Darlington.
In May 2010, the NWMO initiated its siting process to identify an informed and willing community with a safe and suitable site to host a DGR. Through the siting process, 22 communities came forward to engage with the NWMO and learn more about the APM approach, and as of April 2018 there are five Ontario communities that continue to participate.
The refurbishment of Bruce A Units 1 and 2 and Point Lepreau were completed and the units returned to service in 2012. On 28 December 2012, Hydro-Québec decided to decommission Gentilly-2 and shut the station down.
In February 2012, the Government of Canada publicly launched the second phase of the restructuring of AECL, focused on its nuclear laboratories and decommissioning sites. In February 2013, the Government of Canada announced its intention to implement a Government owned, contractor operated model for AECL’s sites.
In September 2015, the Government owned, contractor operated model was implemented at AECL’s nuclear laboratories. Under this model, Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL), a private sector contractor, manages and operates AECL’s sites on its behalf. AECL continues to own the sites, facilities, assets and liabilities.
In October 2016, OPG began the refurbishment of its reactors at the Darlington Nuclear Generating Station. OPG estimates that the refurbishment of all four units will be complete in 2026 and that the station should remain operational until 2055.
In 2017, Bruce Power reached an agreement with the Province of Ontario to complete the refurbishment of the remaining units at the Bruce site, Units 3 and 4 at the Bruce A station and Units 5 to 8 at the Bruce B station.
2.1.2. Current Organizational Structure
FIG. 1. Federal reporting structure.
The Department of Natural Resources (Natural Resources Canada) reports directly to the Minister of Natural Resources, while the CNSC and AECL report to Parliament through the Minister.
2.2. NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS: OVERVIEW
2.2.1. Status and performance of nuclear power plants
There are currently 19 nuclear power reactors in full commercial operation in Canada, operated by public utilities and private companies in Ontario (18) and New Brunswick (1). These reactors generated about 15% of Canada’s electricity (approximately 62.3% in Ontario and 30% in New Brunswick) in 2015. In 2016, the capacity factors of CANDU reactors in operation in Canada averaged 83.93%, higher than the lifetime average performance of 76.6%.
FIG. 2. Canada’s Major Nuclear Facilities.
TABLE 5: STATUS AND PERFORMANCE OF NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS
|DOUGLAS POINT||PHWR||206||Permanent Shutdown||OH||AECL||1960-02-01||1966-11-15||1967-01-07||1968-09-26||1984-05-04|
|ROLPHTON NPD||PHWR||22||Permanent Shutdown||OH||CGE||1958-01-01||1962-04-11||1962-06-04||1962-10-01||1987-08-01|
|Data source: IAEA - Power Reactor Information System (PRIS).|
|Note: Table is completely generated from PRIS data to reflect the latest available information and may be more up to date than the text of the report.|
2.2.2. Plant upgrading, plant life management and licence renewals
The refurbishments of Ontario’s Bruce A Units 1 and 2 and New Brunswick’s Point Lepreau nuclear station have all been completed with the units returning to service in fall 2012.
In January 2016, Ontario announced that it is investing $12.8 billion to refurbish four reactors at Darlington, expected to be completed by 2026. Bruce Power also announced that it will be spending $13 billion to refurbish six reactors at Bruce. These refurbishments will extend the lifespan of the reactors by approximately 30 years.
In June 2016, Bruce Power invested over $1 billion to take advantage of the existing operational life of Bruce A Units 3 and 4, and announced plans to invest $1.1 billion over the next five years to extend the operational lives of its Bruce B units.
In 2017, Bruce Power reached an agreement with the Province of Ontario to complete the refurbishment of the remaining units at the Bruce site — Units 3 and 4 at the Bruce A station, and Units 5 to 8 at the Bruce B station. The refurbishment is planned to start in 2020 with Unit 6 and be completed by 2030 with the refurbishment of Unit 8.
Pickering, originally scheduled to shut down in 2020, is expected to continue to operate until 2024, pending approval from the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission. The current operating licence for Pickering is in effect from 1 September 2013 to 31 August 2018.
2.2.3. Permanent shutdown and decommissioning process
The Gentilly2 facility, operated by Hydro-Québec, is located on the south shore of the Saint Lawrence River in Bécancour, Québec, about 15 kilometres east of Trois-Rivières.
The CANDU reactor has a nominal capacity of 675 MW(e) (megawatts electrical). It went into commercial operation in 1983. Based on a recommendation from Hydro-Québec, the Government of Québec decided in 2012 to close Gentilly-2. The reactor was shut down on 28 December 2012 and completely defuelled by 3 September 2013. In 2015, Gentilly-2 transitioned into a safe storage state and its fuel is stored in the irradiated fuel bay and dry storage.
A financial guarantee is a tangible commitment by a licensee that there will be sufficient resources to safely terminate licensed activities. When licensees terminate their activities, they must properly account for the safe disposal of all licensed material and equipment, and must demonstrate that all locations associated with the licence are free of radioactive contamination. A financial guarantee does not relieve licensees from complying with regulatory requirements for termination of licensed activities, but ensures there are funds available when licensees are unable to carry out safe termination. In August 2017, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) accepted the total financial guarantee proposed by Hydro-Québec as a financial guarantee for the future decommissioning of the Gentilly-2 nuclear reactor and the nuclear waste facilities location in Bécancour.
The Gentilly-2 decommissioning plan includes the dismantling of all systems and structures, the remediation of any radioactive contamination or harmful or potentially dangerous substances to bring the values under the prescribed limits, and the long term management of radioactive waste, including spent fuel. As the decommissioning strategy adopted by Hydro-Québec has a 40 year dormancy period, the dismantling will be gradually phased in.
In April 2016, a Commission hearing as well as operational and performance discussions took place regarding Hydro-Québec’s application to obtain a decommissioning licence. On 22 June 2016, the Commission announced its decision to issue a power reactor decommissioning licence to Hydro-Québec for the Gentilly-2 facility. The licence is valid from 1 July 2016 to 30 June 2026.
TABLE 6: STATUS OF DECOMMISSIONING PROCESS OF NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS
|Reactor unit||Shutdown reason||Decommission strategy||Current decommis-sioning phase||Current fuel manage-ment phase||Decommissioning licensee||Licence termination year|
|Gentilly-2||End of life||1. Controlled reactor shutdown (completed)
2. Defuel reactor core (wet storage, completed)
3. De-water and vacuum dry the primary heat transport system and moderator system (completed)
4. Drain all station systems (completed)
5. Move fuel from wet storage to dry storage (by 2020)
6. Dismantle reactor components (to be completed 2059–2064)
|Currently transferring fuel from wet storage to dry storage||Wet and dry storage||Hydro-Québec||Decommis-sioning licence: 2026
2.3. FUTURE DEVELOPMENT OF NUCLEAR POWER
2.3.1. Nuclear power development strategy
Canada recognizes that nuclear energy can play an important role in achieving global energy security, climate change mitigation and sustainable development goals.
Ontario’s 2013 Long Term Energy Plan commits to keeping nuclear power at approximately 50% of the province’s electricity supply while New Brunswick’s Energy Blueprint expects nuclear to continue to contribute 35%.
In December 2015, the province of Ontario announced it had entered into an amended agreement with Bruce Power that will allow the operator to refurbish six nuclear units at its Bruce Nuclear Generating Station between 2020 and 2036. In January 2016, Ontario approved the refurbishment of four nuclear reactors at the Darlington nuclear generating station and approved a proposal to operate units at the Pickering nuclear generating station for an additional two to four years beyond the plant’s scheduled decommissioning in 2020. The Darlington refurbishment is expected to be completed by 2026.
2.3.2. Project management
The provinces are responsible for managing their own energy supply and electricity generation infrastructure, including decisions on the construction of NPPs in the provinces, whether by private or public entities. As indicated earlier, the regulation of nuclear energy falls under federal jurisdiction. In this regard, NPPs in Canada are regulated by the CNSC throughout their life cycles starting from the environmental assessment and site preparation phase to decommissioning and abandonment, including long term radioactive waste management.
The Major Project Management Office (MPMO)’s mandate is to provide overarching project management and accountability for major resource projects in the federal regulatory review process, and to drive improvements to the regulatory system for major resource projects. In collaboration with other federal departments and agencies, including the CNSC, the MPMO advances the principles of transparency, predictability, timeliness and accountability in the Government of Canada’s approach to the review of major resource project applications. It also supports effective and efficient system for environmental assessment and enhanced and meaningful consultation with indigenous peoples.
The CNSC has been — and continues to be — a full and active member of the MPMO initiative since its establishment in 2007. The MPMO is currently coordinating the mandated review of environmental and regulatory processes with the goal of developing new, fair processes that are robust, incorporate scientific evidence, protect the environment, respect the rights of indigenous peoples, and support economic growth. The CNSC is the responsible authority for new nuclear projects under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012.
2.3.3. Project funding
Different financing models exist for financing nuclear plants and the decision on the approach taken rests with the provinces and relevant public and private utilities in the provinces.
2.4. ORGANIZATIONS INVOLVED IN CONSTRUCTION OF NPPs
The Canadian nuclear industry covers the entire nuclear energy fuel cycle from nuclear research and development, uranium mining and fuel fabrication to nuclear reactor construction as well as servicing of CANDU reactors in Canada and abroad, nuclear power plant operation, nuclear waste management and decommissioning.
There are over 170 member companies participating in the Organization of Canadian Nuclear Industries (OCNI), which represents the Canadian nuclear supply chain. Their business lines range from specialized technical services through small instrument suppliers to engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) companies. In 2015, annual direct employment associated with the Canadian nuclear industry was estimated at around 30 000.
Manufacturing: Because of the cyclical nature of the nuclear industry, most of the firms are also active suppliers to other industries in Canada and abroad.
Engineering: A number of Canadian engineering consulting firms, working closely with an EPC company or directly with utilities, assume the conventional design responsibilities as well as project and construction management and other services, which are typically required during plant construction.
Operation and maintenance: A number of private sector suppliers work as subcontractors for provincial utilities for some of the operations and maintenance work.
Construction: This business is cyclical in nature and the impact on employment can be significant. The construction of reactors in other parts of the world has been typically undertaken by a consortium, including the end user utility (which has the overall accountability for oversight of the project), the reactor vendor and the EPC in association with specialized construction contractors.
2.5. ORGANIZATIONS INVOLVED IN OPERATION OF NPPs
As electricity in Canada is a provincial responsibility, all electric utilities, including nuclear power, fall under provincial jurisdiction. The provinces, in consultation with the utilities, are responsible for business decisions relating to electrical power, including nuclear stations. The utilities are responsible for the planning, construction, operation and decommissioning of NPPs. Some private sector suppliers work as subcontractors to the utilities for specific work.
There are currently two utilities and one private utility operating NPPs in Canada: OPG, NB Power, and Bruce Power, a privately operated plant under a public–private partnership. Hydro-Québec is currently not operating any nuclear power stations; however, the utility is preparing to decommission one NPP.
The utilities are members of the CANDU Owner’s Group (COG), which provides some funding for nuclear research and development (R&D). COG was formed in the early 1980s to promote closer cooperation in matters relating to plant operations and other programmes as a means to improve plant performance.
2.6. ORGANIZATIONS INVOLVED IN DECOMMISSIONING OF NPPs
The decommissioning of an NPP is the responsibility of its operator. The CNSC licenses the decommissioning process 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, and to ensure that any stored waste and contaminated portions of the plant proper are dealt with in a safe manner. In addition, the CNSC requires all licensees with operating NPPs to develop decommissioning plans and maintain financial guarantees sufficient to cover the eventual decommissioning of the NPP.
2.7. FUEL CYCLE, INCLUDING WASTE MANAGEMENT
2.7.1. Nuclear fuel cycle
The Canadian nuclear industry covers the entire natural uranium nuclear energy fuel cycle from nuclear R&D and uranium mining, milling, and fuel fabrication to nuclear technology design, construction, operation, maintenance, waste management and decommissioning.
2.7.2. Mining and milling
Canadian uranium production totalled 13 325 tU in 2015, about 22% of the total world production. All Canadian production is from mines located in northern Saskatchewan.
McArthur River, the world’s largest high grade uranium mine, and the Key Lake mill, the world’s largest uranium mill, are operated by Cameco Corporation. These two facilities maintained their standing as the world’s largest uranium production centre by producing 7341 tU in 2015.
The Rabbit Lake mine and mill, which are wholly owned and operated by Cameco, produced 1621 tU in 2015. On 21 April 2016, Cameco announced it was suspending operations at Rabbit Lake due to low uranium prices, but may resume production when market conditions improve.
The Cigar Lake is the world’s second largest high grade uranium deposit. The mine is operated by Cameco Corporation and the ore is processed at the McClean Lake mill, which is operated by Orano. Cigar Lake production totalled 4359 tU in 2015, ranking it as the world’s second largest uranium mine. The mine has been in full production since 2017, producing 6900 tU annually.
Production from the McClean Lake mill is almost entirely from Cigar Lake ore. A small amount of stockpiled ore from the McClean Lake mine was processed in 2015, producing a total of 4 tU.
2.7.3. Uranium conversion
Cameco Corporation operates Canada’s only uranium refining and conversion facilities, located at Blind River and Port Hope, Ontario, respectively. At the Blind River refinery, uranium ore concentrates from Canada and abroad are refined to uranium trioxide (UO3), an intermediate product. The bulk of the UO3 is then trucked to the Cameco Port Hope facility, which is currently the only operating conversion facility in North America producing uranium hexafluoride (UF6) and the only commercial supply of fuel grade natural uranium dioxide (UO2). UF6 is enriched outside Canada for use in foreign light water reactors, while natural UO2 is used to fabricate fuel bundles for CANDU reactors in Canada and abroad.
2.7.4. Fuel fabrication
In Canada, there are two fuel fabrication companies, BWXT Nuclear Energy Canada Inc. and Cameco Fuel Manufacturing Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Cameco Corporation, which produce fuel pellets and fuel bundles for CANDU reactors. Both of these companies operate in the province of Ontario. BWXT produces fuel pellets and fuel bundles at facilities in Toronto and Peterborough, Ontario, respectively. Cameco produces fuel pellets, fuel bundles and components at its facilities in Cobourg and Port Hope, Ontario. The fuel fabrication process involves forming the uranium dioxide into pellets, followed by a process of sintering and sheathing in zirconium to make fuel bundles for use in CANDU reactors.
2.7.5. Radioactive waste management
Canada has policies, legislation and responsible institutions that govern the management of all categories of radioactive waste. The Government’s 1996 Policy Framework for Radioactive Waste outlines the national context for the management of radioactive waste and lays out a set of principles to ensure that it is carried out in a safe, environmentally sound, comprehensive, cost effective and integrated manner.
Under the framework, the Federal Government is responsible for:
Developing policy and regulating;
Overseeing owners to ensure that they comply with legal requirements and meet their funding and operational responsibilities in accordance with approved waste management plans.
Consistent with the framework, waste owners are responsible for funding, organizing, managing, and operating the long term waste management and/or disposal facilities and other facilities required for their waste.
2.7.6. Responsible institutions
Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) is the lead department for the development and implementation of Government policy on radioactive waste management, and provides oversight of waste owners to ensure obligations under the policy framework are met. It also provides support to the Minister of Natural Resources in fulfilling the legislative requirements of the Nuclear Fuel Waste Act (NFWA), and ensuring that the nuclear utilities and the NWMO comply with the requirements of the act.
As the Canadian nuclear regulator, the CNSC regulates radioactive waste owners in Canada based on its comprehensive and stringent regulatory regime, and verifies that waste management facilities comply with established safety requirements through inspections and audits.
AECL is responsible for the federal government’s radioactive waste and decommissioning obligations stemming from legacy nuclear science and technology operations at its sites as well as for other sites contaminated with historic low level radioactive waste across Canada for which the Government of Canada has accepted responsibility. AECL oversees its contractor, CNL, which manages and operates AECL’s sites on its behalf and implements programmes and projects to manage its radioactive waste responsibilities.
Canada’s nuclear operators are responsible for managing their own waste and are well suited to developing and implementing safe, secure solutions. The nuclear industry is safely managing its radioactive waste, and initiatives are underway to develop long term radioactive waste management facilities.
CNL operates a commercial waste service for small producers and owners of radioactive waste, such as hospitals and universities. On behalf of AECL, CNL accepts low level and intermediate level radioactive waste on a fee for service basis from these organizations for long term management.
2.7.7. Long term management of nuclear fuel waste
Nuclear fuel waste is defined under the NFWA as irradiated fuel bundles removed from commercial or research nuclear fission reactors. Nuclear fuel waste is currently stored safely and securely in pools and/or dry storage containers in waste management facilities at licensed nuclear sites. There are three provincial nuclear utilities (OPG, Hydro-Québec and NB Power) which altogether own about 97% of the approximately 11 000 m3 of nuclear fuel waste in Canada. The remainder is owned by AECL and McMaster University.(1)
Consistent with the Policy Framework for Radioactive Waste, the NFWA was brought into force in 2002 to ensure that a safe national solution for the long term management of nuclear fuel waste was developed, Government selected and implemented.
The act required the nuclear energy corporations to establish a waste management organization. Consequently, the NWMO was established as a separate legal entity to develop and implement a safe national long term solution for nuclear fuel waste. The legislation also required the nuclear energy corporations and AECL to establish trust funds with independent third party trust companies to finance their long term waste management responsibilities.
As a first step towards developing a national solution, the act required the NWMO to submit a study to the Government of Canada on proposed approaches for the long term safe management of nuclear fuel waste. On 3 November 2005, the NWMO submitted its study, Choosing a Way Forward, after having carried out a three year dialogue with Canadians. In its study, the NWMO recommended the APM approach as its preferred solution.
On 14 June 2007, the Government selected the APM approach as Canada’s national solution for managing nuclear fuel waste over the long term. The goal of the APM approach involves containing and isolating the nuclear fuel waste in a DGR located at a safe site within an informed and willing host community. The NWMO is responsible for implementing the APM approach, subject to receiving all of the necessary regulatory approvals.
In May 2010, the NWMO initiated a siting process to identify an informed and willing host community with a safe, and suitable site for a DGR. By 2012, twenty-two interested communities in Ontario and Saskatchewan came forward to participate in the process and learn more about the APM project. Potential land areas located within the interested communities have been narrowed down through assessments, and the NWMO has now focused its siting process on five Ontario communities. Those five communities are continuing to engage with the NWMO and explore the possibility of hosting a DGR and Centre of Expertise for the long term management of nuclear fuel waste. For information about the NWMO’s siting process and how it is implementing the APM approach, refer to the following web site: http://www.nwmo.ca
Highly enriched uranium (HEU) nuclear fuel waste from research reactors at Canadian universities has been returned to the United States of America, through the US Department of Energy, to its Savannah River facility. In 2010, Canada and the USA agreed to cooperate in the repatriation of US origin HEU fuel stored at AECL’s Chalk River Laboratories to the Savannah River site, and in 2012, this agreement was expanded to include HEU bearing liquids. These repatriation initiatives are currently under way.
2.7.8. Management of low and intermediate level radioactive waste
Consistent with the Radioactive Waste Policy Framework, owners of low level and intermediate level radioactive waste (L&ILRW) are responsible for the funding, organization and operation of the waste management facilities required for their waste. Above ground and in ground storage structures and buildings are used to safely and securely contain and store L&ILRW, and prevent the release of contaminants to the environment.
OPG, Canada’s largest nuclear utility, has a centralized storage facility for L&ILRW at the Bruce nuclear site, whereas other waste owners generally store their L&ILRW at the site where the waste was generated.
OPG and AECL collectively own 97% of Canada’s 2.4 million m3 of L&ILRW. Initiatives are underway to establish long term waste management and disposal facilities. These initiatives and projects are described below.
OPG deep geologic repository for L&ILRW
In 2004, the Municipality of Kincardine and OPG entered into a hosting agreement that would enable OPG to prepare a site, construct, and operate a DGR for its L&ILRW at the Bruce nuclear site. The Bruce nuclear site is located within the municipality of Kincardine, Ontario.
The repository would be designed to manage the radioactive waste produced from OPG’s twenty nuclear power reactors at Bruce, Pickering and Darlington, Ontario, including L&ILRW arising from reactor refurbishment.
On 24 January 2012, Canada’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change, and the president of the CNSC announced the establishment of a three member joint review panel (JRP) to review the environmental effects of OPG’s proposed project. The JRP held a total of 33 days of public hearings in September and October 2013, and September 2014.
On 6 May 2015, the JRP submitted its report to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change for review and decision under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012, which included a total of 97 recommendations. In its report, the JRP concluded that the DGR project is not likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects, provided that the mitigation measures proposed by OPG, and recommended by the panel, are implemented.
On 18 February 2016, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change requested additional information and further studies on the environmental assessment of the DGR project. OPG submitted its response to the minister’s request to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency on 28 December 2016.
In August 2017, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change requested that the analysis of cumulative effects, used to evaluate the project, be updated to reflect the impact on the physical and cultural heritage of the Saugeen Ojibway Nation (SON), an indigenous people whose traditional territory includes the site of the proposed DGR.
The letter states that the project should not move forward until the SON’s communities are supportive of it, pursuant to the 2013 commitment made by OPG to the SON to this effect. OPG is currently reviewing this new request for information.
For information on the environmental assessment, please visit http://www.ceaa-acee.gc.ca/050/details-eng.cfm?evaluation=17520
If the project is authorized to proceed to the next phase of the permitting process, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change’s environmental assessment decision statement will include conditions related to the project that will be legally binding on the proponent. A licensing decision by the JRP would then be required.
Decommissioning and waste management projects at AECL sites
AECL’s inventory of L&ILRW radioactive stems for nuclear science and technology activities carried out at its sites across Canada includes the Chalk River Laboratories (Ontario), the Whiteshell Laboratories (Manitoba) and three prototype reactor sites in Ontario and Quebec. These include, for example, R&D for nuclear reactor technology, the production of medical isotopes and national science programmes. AECL also manages historic low level radioactive waste, as described below.
AECL’s L&ILRW inventory is currently being safely managed in a number of waste management areas at its sites and includes various types of storage, including silos, tile holes, bunkers and shielded above ground storage buildings.
As part of the implementation of the Government owned, contractor operated, AECL has asked its contractor, CNL, to accelerate decommissioning and waste management activities at its sites in order to reduce risks and protect the environment. As a result, CNL has put forward three projects for the disposal of AECL’s radioactive waste: a proposed near surface disposal facility for low level radioactive waste, to be located at the Chalk River Laboratories; a proposal for the in situ decommissioning of the nuclear power demonstration reactor in Rolphton, Ontario; and a proposal for the in situ decommissioning of the WR-1 research reactor at the Whiteshell Laboratories in Pinawa, Manitoba. All three projects are currently undergoing an environmental assessment and are subject to licensing from the CNSC.
The proposed near surface disposal facility is meant to dispose of AECL’s low level radioactive waste, which is primarily located at the Chalk River Laboratories. This includes waste that is currently in storage, waste to be produced as a result of the decommissioning of buildings and facilities, contaminated soils and waste that will continue to be produced as a result of ongoing nuclear science and technology activities. The facility will consist of an engineered mound with multiple disposal cells, and will replace the current practice of placing the waste in temporary storage. The facility will be sized to hold approximately one million m3 of waste, and will allow CNL to decommission more than 100 buildings and structures at the Chalk River Laboratories that are outdated and redundant.
The other two projects relate to CNL’s plan to decommission the nuclear power demonstration prototype reactor and the WR-1 research reactor in situ by grouting them in place. In both cases, the reactor components and systems are located below grade in the subsurface portion of the facility, and fuel has already been removed. CNL plans to remove the above ground portions of both facilities, and fill the subsurface portions of the facilities with grout to ‘entomb’ the reactors in place.
CNL is also accelerating the decommissioning of outdated and contaminated buildings at the Chalk River Laboratories and the former Whiteshell Laboratories. The latter is expected to be fully decommissioned and closed by 2024, whereas the Chalk River Laboratories remain an active and operating nuclear research site.
Management of historic waste
Historic low level radioactive waste is waste for which the current owner cannot reasonably be held responsible, and for which the Government of Canada has accepted responsibility. Canada’s historic waste inventory consists largely of radium and uranium contaminated soils.
On behalf of the Government of Canada, AECL is responsible for the management of Canada’s historic waste. The majority of this waste by volume is located in the municipalities of Port Hope and Clarington, in Ontario. These wastes are being addressed through the Port Hope Area Initiative (PHAI), the largest remediation project in Canada. This initiative, supported by $1.28 billion in federal funding, involves the cleanup and local long term management of approximately 1.7 million m3 of low level radioactive waste. CNL is delivering the PHAI under contract to AECL.
Under the PHAI, two engineered near surface waste management facilities are being constructed and operated, one in each of the municipalities of Port Hope and Clarington. These facilities will allow for the safe management of the historic waste which had been disposed of and/or dispersed in those municipalities, including at more than 800 residential properties. The Port Granby Long Term Waste Management Facility in Clarington began receiving waste in late 2016, and waste excavation and emplacement will be completed in 2018. The Port Hope Long Term Waste Management Facility in Port Hope began receiving waste in late 2017, and excavation and emplacement will continue until 2023. Once excavation and emplacement are completed, each facility will be capped and will enter into long term monitoring.
Most of the remaining historic waste to be dealt with in Canada consists of very low level radioactive waste located along the Northern Transportation Route between Port Radium, in the Northwest Territories and Fort McMurray, Alberta. The waste results from the past transport of radium and uranium bearing ore and concentrates. Cleanup of the soil that posed a radiological hazard has taken place at a number of locations along the Northern Transportation Route, and the wastes are safely stored in regularly inspected storage mounds. Strategies are being developed for the cleanup of the remaining contamination along the Northern Transportation Route, which is estimated to consist of about 14 000 m3 of contaminated soil.
2.8. RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT
2.8.1. R&D organizations
Nuclear research and development in Canada began in the 1940s. The federal government has funded a research and development programme at AECL since its creation in 1952.
Early pursuits took place at the Chalk River Laboratories in what were considered to be ‘new’ sciences at the time — nuclear physics, nuclear chemistry and radiation biology. The National Research Experimental reactor and the National Research Universal reactor were critical to the laboratories’ early programmes of basic science and isotope production as well as to the development of the CANDU reactor technology. Nuclear science and technology work was expanded at the Whiteshell Laboratories in 1963, where research was focused on the largest organically cooled, heavy water moderated nuclear reactor in the world, the WR-1. Facilities also included a SLOWPOKE reactor as well as shielded hot cell facilities and other nuclear research laboratories. An underground research laboratory and research in fuel storage also supported programmes for the study and demonstration of storage and disposal facilities.
Work at the Chalk River Laboratories was also expanded to support federal government initiatives to develop national radiological health and safety regulations and to contribute to international efforts to control the proliferation of nuclear weapons.
In the mid-90s, a decision was made to shut down the Whiteshell Laboratories and to consolidate research activities at the Chalk River Laboratories. The Whiteshell Laboratories are currently undergoing decommissioning, and today the Chalk River Laboratories are Canada’s largest science and technology complex. The laboratories boast multiple highly specialized and unique laboratories as well as testing facilities, all of which are used to deliver nuclear science and technology in the areas of health, safety, security, environment, energy, non-proliferation and emergency management for the benefit of Canadians and industry.
AECL enables nuclear science and technology for the federal government through the management of the Federal Nuclear Science and Technology Work Plan, which supports the Government’s priorities and core responsibilities in the areas of health, nuclear safety and security, energy and the environment. Work under the plan is delivered by CNL, which manages and operates the Chalk River Laboratories under contract with AECL. AECL has also asked CNL to increase the science and technology stature of the Chalk River Laboratories, which is enabled by the delivery of services to third parties on a commercial basis and an investment of $1.2 billion for new and renewed science and site support infrastructure.
In March 2018, the National Research Universal reactor was shut down after more than 60 years of operation. Its contributions included providing lifesaving medical isotopes that benefitted over a billion people, supporting the continued operation of the CANDU nuclear fleet, enabling technological and industrial advances and supporting research that led to Nobel prizes.
Today, CNL is working to revitalize the Chalk River Laboratories, including a plan for a new advanced nuclear materials centre, and has a stated objective to host a demonstration small modular reactor by 2026.
Other Canadian private sector organizations are also actively pursuing the development of nuclear technology. STERN Laboratories performs nuclear reliability and safety experiments for customers in the private and public sectors in order to help the development of PWR, BWR and CANDU reactor technology. Kinectrics, formerly the R&D arm of Ontario Hydro carries out technological consulting across North America for nuclear related issues. TRIUMF’s research facilities in Vancouver, British Columbia, serve a wide variety of nuclear research development interests, including with respect to detector development, high temperature superconductor testing, and cyclotron based medical isotope production.
2.8.2. Development of advanced nuclear power technologies
Canada is a member of the Generation IV International Forum (GIF), which enables the coordination of advanced nuclear research among major nuclear countries. As part of this initiative, Canadian Nuclear Laboratories continues to work toward the development of the supercritical water reactor (SCWR) concept.
SNC-Lavalin, a member of Canada’s nuclear supply chain and owner of Candu Energy Inc., is currently engaged in a joint venture with the Chinese National Nuclear Corporation in order to develop the Advanced Fuel CANDU Reactor (AFCR).
CNL has launched a process to invite applications for technology developers to build a demonstration small modular reactor at one of the sites it manages on behalf of AECL.
2.8.3. International cooperation and initiatives
Canada is a member of both the Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Canada’s voluntary contributions to the IAEA, in addition to its assessed contributions, make it a contributor to the Agency. Additionally, Canada provides in-kind contributions to the IAEA through the participation of experts from government, regulators, industry and academia in IAEA activities.
Canada is also a member of the GIF, the International Framework for Nuclear Energy Cooperation (IFNEC), and the Multinational Design and Evaluation Programme (MDEP).
Canada is an active supporter of the peaceful uses of nuclear energy and maintains nuclear cooperation agreements (NCAs) with 48 countries, including members of the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom). Canada’s NCAs are a key requirement of its policy on non-proliferation, and are the responsibility of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Natural Resources. NCAs are negotiated by Global Affairs Canada (GAC) and the CNSC; the respective administrative arrangements are established by the CNSC pursuant to the Nuclear Safety and Control Act. Canada’s NCAs commit its bilateral nuclear partners to complying with a set of requirements which help implement Canadian nuclear non-proliferation policy, ensuring that Canadian nuclear exports are only used for peaceful non-explosive end uses. Canada has also concluded various bilateral memorandums of understanding in support of greater cooperation on research and development.
Canada participates in the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme through the Sustainable Network for Independent Technical Expertise for Radioactive Waste (SITEX-II) and the Fast Nuclear Emergency Tools (FASTNET) projects.
2.9. HUMAN RESOURCES DEVELOPMENT
To support its nuclear energy programme, a strong human resources development framework has been developed in Canada. At least four universities are currently offering a nuclear engineering programme in Canada. In 2002, the University Network of Excellence in Nuclear Engineering (UNENE) was created through a partnership of leading Canadian universities, along with major nuclear plant operators, to carry out research and education in nuclear technologies. UNENE has now grown to a partnership of 12 Canadian universities along with seven industrial partners, conducting research and delivering a Masters of Nuclear Engineering programme along with other educational and training initiatives. The UNENE universities use their research initiatives, including eight Industrial Research Chair programmes, to develop expert personnel for the nuclear community. Both E&T and R&D programmes are regularly updated to reflect the challenges and opportunities for nuclear in Canada. The Chalk River Laboratories have also been used for educational development and many scientists and students, both Canadian and international, have conducted nuclear research there. Managed by CNL, the laboratories offer several educational development opportunities, including a reactor school programme.
TRIUMF, a publicly funded subatomic physics laboratory operated by a consortium of Canadian universities, offers lectures and seminars to students on nuclear medicine and particle accelerator development. TRIUMF possesses leading-edge scientific facilities including a cyclotron and a proton therapy cancer treatment centre.
2.10. STAKEHOLDER INVOLVEMENT
The Government of Canada keeps indigenous peoples and the public informed on national nuclear policy and events through responsible departments/ministers and by reporting to Parliament or to the public via information disseminated on web sites, publications, social media, the media, and through other means of correspondence. The CNSC keeps interested indigenous peoples informed of developments related to major nuclear facilities and activities in various ways, including emails, letters, phone calls and engagement activities. Indigenous peoples and members of the public are welcome to observe, either in person or via webcast, or to formally participate as intervenors in the public hearings of the CNSC when it makes decisions on the licensing of major nuclear facilities. In 2011, the CNSC — which values public input — established a participant funding programme (PFP), to help indigenous peoples, individuals and not for profit organizations participate in its regulatory review processes. Through this funding, the CNSC aspires to increase participation in its environmental assessment and licensing processes for major nuclear facilities, and to help 9ndigenous peoples, individuals and not for profit organizations bring value added information to the Commission. Stakeholders are also consulted on regulatory documents and amendments.
The individual owners, power companies or nuclear organizations inform their own stakeholders and the press about their activities and project details. There are also other organizations in Canada who have an interest in communicating information on nuclear power to the public, including the Canadian Nuclear Association, the Canadian Nuclear Society, the CANDU Owners Group and the Organization of Canadian Nuclear Industries.
2.11. EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS
2.11.1. Emergency preparedness in Canada
Within Canada’s constitutional framework, emergency management is a shared responsibility between the three levels of government (municipal, provincial and federal), operators, and non-governmental organizations in a bottom up approach. Most emergencies are local in nature, and are managed at the community or provincial/territorial level. The Federal Government can become involved where it has primary jurisdiction or when requested for assistance due to the scope of the emergency.
The Government of Canada’s emergency planning, preparedness and response are based on an “all-hazards” approach. The Emergency Management Act sets out broad policy direction and general responsibilities for Public Safety Canada and all other federal ministers and their respective departments/agencies. It broadens the scope of emergency preparedness at the federal level to include the four pillars of emergency management: mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery. Public Safety Canada has prepared the all-hazards Federal Emergency Response Plan (FERP) to address governance and coordination issues for federal entities and to support the provinces and territories. The Minister of Public Safety is responsible for coordinating the Government of Canada’s response to any emergency. The FERP is designed to harmonize federal emergency response efforts with those of the provinces and territorial governments, non-governmental organizations and the private sector, through processes and mechanisms that facilitate an integrated response. The Government Operations Centre (GOC) achieves the implementation of this plan by using the incident command system (ICS) structure. During an emergency, groups are created to fulfil those functions: planning, operations, logistics, finance and communications. The GOC serves as the operational 24/7 point of contact to trigger or receive notifications at the federal level.
Health Canada, through the Radiation Protection Bureau, administers the Federal Nuclear Emergency Plan (FNEP). The FNEP is integrated with and forms an annex to the FERP to coordinate the Government of Canada’s technical response and to support the provinces/territories in managing the radiological consequences of any domestic, transboundary or international nuclear emergency. The FNEP provides supplemental and specific multidepartmental and interjurisdictional arrangements necessary to address the health risks associated with a radiological or nuclear emergency. Health Canada also leads the federal interdepartmental Radiological/Nuclear Emergency Management Coordination Committee and co-leads the Federal/Provincial/Territorial Radiological/Nuclear Emergency Management Coordination Committee. These two committees provide a forum for information exchange and the development of plans and joint projects to improve nuclear emergency management in Canada.
The FNEP has provincial annexes for provinces with nuclear power plants (Ontario and New Brunswick). These annexes establish the link between federal and provincial nuclear emergency response organizations and capabilities. Provincial annexes to the FNEP describe interfaces between the Government of Canada and the provincial emergency management organizations in those provinces that have NPPs or ports hosting foreign nuclear powered vessels.
In alignment with International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) guidance and requirements, Canadian nuclear emergency response responsibilities are subdivided into on-site and off-site nuclear emergency responses. On-site nuclear emergency preparedness and response pertains to all actions and measures taken within the boundary of the licensee site, whereas off-site nuclear emergency preparedness and response pertain to actions and measures taken outside and beyond the boundary of the licensee site.
These two areas of preparedness and response — off-site and on-site — require specific roles and responsibilities from different stakeholders yet, closely related as they are, they also require coordination between all levels of government and the CNSC licensee. For example:
CNSC licensees are responsible for on-site nuclear emergency response and emergencies that may occur off-site.
Provincial governments are responsible for off-site nuclear emergency response.
If requested by the provincial government, the Federal Government may provide support to the province.
During an integrated Government of Canada response to a nuclear emergency under the FERP/FNEP, all levels of government and various agencies and organizations have the responsibility to develop and implement emergency response plans to deal with the consequences and impacts outside the boundaries of the nuclear facility licensed by the CNSC. The licensee is responsible for the response inside the boundaries of its facility.
An integrated Government of Canada response is required when:
A province/territory requests federal support to deal with an emergency;
An emergency affects multiple jurisdictions and/or government institutions, and requires a coordinated response;
An emergency directly involves federal assets, services, employees, statutory authority or responsibilities, or affects confidence in government;
An emergency affects other aspects of the national interest.
In particular, for nuclear emergency preparedness and response:
The provincial/territorial governments are responsible for overseeing public health and safety and the protection of property and the environment within their jurisdictions. Accordingly, they assume lead responsibility for the arrangements necessary to respond to the off-site effects of a nuclear emergency by enacting legislation and providing direction to the municipalities where the NPPs are located. Typically, their administrative structures include an emergency measures organization (or the equivalent) to cope with a wide range of potential or actual emergencies in accordance with defined plans and procedures. The provinces maintain emergency operations centres to coordinate protective actions for the public and to provide the media with information. The two provinces with operating NPPs, Ontario and New Brunswick, have dedicated plans for managing nuclear emergencies that could occur within their borders.
The CNSC plays a dual role. First, under the mandate established by the Nuclear Safety Control Act, the CNSC maintains regulatory oversight of the on-site nuclear emergency preparedness and response activities of the licensee. Second, as a federal agency, the CNSC participates in the whole-of-government preparedness and response to a nuclear emergency, in accordance with the requirements of both the FERP and the FNEP.
Global Affairs Canada is responsible for liaisons with the international community and their diplomatic missions in Canada, for assisting Canadians abroad, and for coordinating the national response to nuclear emergencies that occur in foreign countries, but have an impact on Canada.
Health Canada, in conjunction with Public Safety Canada, coordinates with relevant emergency preparedness committees, including the Federal Exercise Working Group, which looks at exercise development for the entire Federal Government. The FNEP identifies the need for an ongoing exercise programme. Health Canada maintains an evergreen five year nuclear emergency training, drill and exercise programme. This programme includes development and implementation of a long term programme for training, drills and exercises, and participation in federal, provincial/territorial and international drills and exercises, including those organized under the auspices of the IAEA and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) Nuclear Energy Agency. Targeted drills and exercises are conducted on a routine basis, with a large scale multijurisdictional exercise occurring, in general, once every two to three years. Each exercise and drill is followed by an after action report and a management action plan. Relevant lessons learned are then integrated into plans and procedures and are re-exercised as necessary to continuously to increase the level of preparedness.
2.11.2. Licensee emergency preparedness
The Canadian nuclear regulatory framework places the onus on the licensees to perform a detailed assessment of their risk environment to identify potential hazards that could lead to a nuclear emergency. In turn, this licensee risk assessment is overseen by the CNSC. As part of the licensing process, the licensees are required to have measures and plans in place to prevent, mitigate, respond and recover from a nuclear emergency. In the event of a nuclear emergency at a licensed facility and/or involving a CNSC licensed nuclear substance, the main responder is the licensee and the CNSC will monitor and support the licensee in the emergency response, as required.
3. NATIONAL LAWS AND REGULATIONS
3.1. REGULATORY FRAMEWORK
3.1.1. Regulatory authority(ies)
On 31 May 2000, the CNSC was created as the successor to the Atomic Energy Control Board (AECB), which had served as the regulator of Canada’s nuclear industry for more than 50 years. The CNSC’s creation followed the entry into force of the Nuclear Safety and Control Act (NSCA) and its regulations. The NSCA represented the first major overhaul of legislation governing Canada’s nuclear regulatory regime since the AECB was established in 1946. It created an independent administrative tribunal (the CNSC’s Commission) to regulate the nuclear industry and authorized the hiring of technical and support staff. The CNSC reports to Parliament through the Minister of Natural Resources.
The CNSC’s mission is to regulate the use of nuclear energy and materials to protect health, safety, security and the environment; to implement Canada’s international commitments on the peaceful use of nuclear energy; and to disseminate objective scientific, technical and regulatory information to the public. Under the NSCA, the CNSC’s mandate involves four major areas:
Regulation of the development, production and use of nuclear energy in Canada to protect health safety and the environment;
Regulation of the production, possession, use and transport of nuclear substances, and the production, possession, and use of prescribed equipment and prescribed information;
Implementation of measures respecting international control of the development, production, transport and use of nuclear energy and substances, including measures respecting the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons and nuclear explosive devices;
Dissemination of scientific, technical and regulatory information concerning the activities of the CNSC and the effects on the environment, on the health and safety of persons, of the development, production, possession, transport and use of nuclear energy and nuclear substances.
Parliament has also given the CNSC the authority to conduct environmental assessments under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012 (CEAA 2012).
The Canadian regulatory system is designed to protect people and the environment from the risks associated with the development and use of nuclear energy and nuclear substances. Individuals, companies and medical or academic institutions wishing to operate nuclear facilities or use nuclear substances for industrial, medical or academic purposes must first obtain a licence from the CNSC. It is a fundamental tenet of Canada’s regulatory regime that licensees are primarily responsible for safety. The CNSC’s role is to ensure that the applicants live up to their responsibility. The onus is therefore on the applicant or the holder of the licence to justify the selection of a site, method of construction, and mode of operation of a facility, and the decommissioning plan for the facility or activity, to the satisfaction of the Commission.
The Commission is an independent, quasi-judicial tribunal and a court of record, with the powers, rights, and privileges necessary to carry out its duties and enforce its orders. It operates at arm’s length from the Government with no ties to the nuclear industry.
The Commission has up to seven permanent members who are appointed by the Governor in Council for terms of up to five years. One member is designated as President of the Commission and Chief Executive Officer of the CNSC.
Subject to the Governor in Council’s approval, the Commission may make and amend regulations as it deems necessary for attaining the objects of the NSCA. The Commission is also empowered to grant licences to conduct nuclear activities. Commission decisions are science and safety based; they may not be overturned by the Government of Canada. They are reviewable only by the Federal Court of Canada. These measures help ensure the independence of the Commission.
The Governor in Council may issue directives to the CNSC. Any such directive may only be of general application on broad policy matters with respect to the objects of the Commission, and not in respect of a particular case before the Commission.
To maintain its adjudicative distance from CNSC staff, the Commission communicates with staff only through the Commission Secretariat and through formal proceedings. This separation serves to maintain the Commission’s independence.
Licensing matters for major facilities are carried out in public hearings by the Commission. When issuing a licence, the Commission must be satisfied that the proponents have taken adequate measures to protect health and safety, the environment, ensure security, and respect Canada’s international commitments, and that the companies are qualified to carry out the licensed activities. Licensing matters for major facilities are carried out in public hearings by an independent administrative tribunal — the CNSC’s Commission. This is one of the most visible functions of the CNSC in the regulation of the nuclear industry.
As part of its implementation of international obligations and commitments, the CNSC regulates the import and export of nuclear substances, nuclear equipment and nuclear technology in order to ensure that Canada’s nuclear non-proliferation policy and international obligations are respected, including those arising from the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). In addition, the CNSC works in collaboration with Global Affairs Canada to fully implement the provisions of Canada’s nuclear cooperation agreements. CNSC and Global Affairs Canada staff also provide technical support and policy guidance in support of Canada’s participation in international non-proliferation activities and initiatives.
The CNSC has developed a suite of regulatory documents, which are a key part of the CNSC’s regulatory framework for nuclear activities in Canada. They provide additional clarity to licensees and applicants about how to meet the requirements set out in the NSCA and the regulations made under the NSCA. Regulatory documents generally present both requirements and guidance in a single document and distinguish between both through the use of mandatory (e.g., shall, must) and non-mandatory (e.g., should, may) language.
CNSC staff inspects licensed activities and enforces compliance with regulations, and develops regulatory and guidance documents.
Standards for radiological protection have been developed over the years at both national and international levels. The basis for the Canadian regulatory radiation dose limits originates from the recommendations of the International Commission on Radiological Protection.
3.1.2. Licensing Process
There are many stages in the life cycle of nuclear facilities before any person or company can prepare a site to construct, operate, decommission or abandon a nuclear facility — or possess, use, transport or store nuclear substances — they must obtain a corresponding licence from the CNSC.
There are four major steps in the licensing process for a new nuclear facility (such as an NPP):
The licensing process begins when an application is received by the CNSC. An assessment plan and timeline are then developed for each individual application. The assessment plan identifies the scope and depth of the technical assessment needed to evaluate the application. It takes historical licensing information, licensing experience, performance and compliance reports, and CNSC staff recommendations into account.
Protecting the environment is an important part of the work of the CNSC. The predicted environmental effects and proposed mitigation measures are identified before a project is carried out. The effectiveness of those mitigation measures is then assessed throughout the life cycle of the project. The CNSC assesses the environmental effects of all nuclear facilities or activities at every phase of their life cycle. This assessment is based on the scale and complexity of the environmental risks associated with the facility or activity. The CNSC carries out environmental assessments under the NSCA or, where applicable, under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012.
CNSC staff undertake a variety of technical assessments according to the prescribed assessment plan to ensure that each application complies with all regulatory criteria as defined by the NSCA, relevant regulations, international and domestic standards and international obligations.
The final step in the licensing process is the Commission tribunal’s decision, which takes into account submissions by the applicant, all CNSC staff recommendations and the views and concerns expressed at public hearings. The public hearings provide interested stakeholders an opportunity to participate in the licensing process by voicing any views or concerns to the Commission members, which constitutes an important part of informing licensing decisions.
In 2012, the Government of Canada launched Responsible Resource Development, a plan to streamline the review process for major resource projects. Under this plan, the CNSC has committed to firm, end to end timelines for its reviews of new nuclear development. A 24 month timeline will apply to the CNSC portion of reviews and decisions for site preparation licences for new Class I nuclear facilities. This timeline will also apply to the CNSC portion of reviews and decisions for licences for site preparation and construction of new uranium mines or mills.
3.2. MAIN NATIONAL LAWS AND REGULATIONS IN NUCLEAR POWER
While Canada’s provinces have constitutional responsibility for resource and industrial development, including authority for decisions regarding the development of uranium resources and the commercial development and use of nuclear power, regulation of the nuclear industry is a federal responsibility and has been since the inception of the Canadian nuclear industry in the mid-1940s. While the CNSC has sole responsibility for licensing nuclear facilities and nuclear activities, a number of other federal agencies are involved in the regulation of the industry. Provinces may also have regulations that deal with off-site activities of licensees, such as provisions for off-site emergency preparedness.
The main national laws relevant to Canada’s nuclear programme are the NSCA, which entered into force in 2000; the Nuclear Liability and Compensation Act (NLCA) which entered into force on 1 January 2017; the Nuclear Energy Act of 1985; and the Nuclear Fuel Waste Act (NFWA) of 2002. Other federal legislation of significance to the Canadian nuclear industry includes the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, which was updated in 2012, and the Canada Labour Code, which governs conventional occupational health and safety issues, labour standards and labour relations.
As noted above, the NSCA replaced the Atomic Energy Control Act of 1946 and established the CNSC in place of the former AECB with regulatory responsibilities for nuclear matters. The NSCA received a royal assent in March 1997, and entered into force on 31 May 2000 after new regulations in support of the act were approved.
In addition to the powers and responsibilities of the CNSC outlined above, the NSCA authorizes the Commission to require that operators of nuclear facilities provide financial guarantees as a condition of their licence. This is a discretionary power that the Commission has used to require operators of uranium mines and mills, uranium refineries and fuel fabrication facilities, NPPs and research reactors and facilities to provide financial guarantees to support decommissioning activities and the long term management of nuclear waste. The financial guarantees are based on decommissioning plans accepted by the CNSC, using conservative cost estimates for implementing those plans. Financial guarantees ensure that the costs for decommissioning will be borne by licensees, not taxpayers. Recent development of the financial guarantees programme has expanded financial guarantees for all CNSC licensees’ that are holders of nuclear substance and prescribed equipment, as well as Class II facilities. The CNSC has contracted private insurance under which it is the sole insured party, and that is meant to cover costs if the CNSC needs to take control of licensed material and safely terminate a licensed activity. Licensees contribute to the CNSC annual insurance premium in proportion to their liability by paying a yearly financial contribution.
The NLCA, which entered into force on 1 January 2017, establishes liability for civil injury and damage arising from nuclear accidents and provides for a well defined compensation system for claimants in the unlikely event of injury and damage resulting from a radioactive release at a nuclear installation in Canada. The NLCA applies to nuclear installations designated by federal government regulation. These are generally nuclear reactors, fuel fabrication facilities, and facilities for the long term management of nuclear fuel waste.
The NLCA repealed and replaced the previous Nuclear Liability Act of 1976. The NLCA increased the amount of compensation available to address damage caused by a nuclear incident from $75 million under the NLA to $650 million, transitioning to $1 billion in 2020, a level commensurate with international standards. The NLCA broadens definitions of compensable damage to include economic loss, preventive measures and environmental damage, improves the procedures for delivery of compensation and extends the limitation period for submitting compensation claims for bodily injury to 30 years. The NLCA also implements the provisions of the IAEA’s Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage, which Canada ratified on 6 June 2017, and which entered into force for Canada on 4 September 2017. The NLCA maintains the underlying principles and key strengths of the NLA, including making nuclear operators absolutely and exclusively liable for nuclear damage, but expands upon it.
The NFWA requires nuclear utilities to form a waste management organization whose mandate is to propose to the Government of Canada approaches for the long term management of nuclear fuel waste, and to implement the approach that is selected by the Government. The NFWA also requires the utilities and AECL to establish trust funds to finance the implementation of the selected long term nuclear fuel waste management approach. The NFWA entered into force on 15 November 2002.
The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) establishes in legislation the process and the obligations of federal departments and agencies for the conduct of environmental assessments of public or private projects involving the federal government. The CEAA underwent a statutory review process which led to changes in the act, which entered into force on 6 July 2012. For designated projects described in the Regulations Designating Physical Activities, an environmental assessment is required to identify whether the project is likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects and determine whether those effects can be mitigated. The Minister of Environment and Climate Change may also designate a project not identified in the Regulations Designating Physical Activities if the project may cause adverse environmental effects or if there are public concerns related to those effects.
Conventional occupational health and safety, labour relations and labour standards are governed by the Canada Labour Code. Provisions in the code allow the Federal Government to incorporate by reference provincial statutes of general application as federal regulations, and to make arrangements with provincial governments for the administration of those regulations. This power has been exercised with respect to nuclear power facilities in Ontario, and for conventional occupational health and safety matters at Saskatchewan uranium mines and mills.
Natural Resources Canada, http://www.nrcan-rncan.gc.ca
Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, http://www.nuclearsafety.gc.ca
Atomic Energy of Canada Limited, http://www.aecl.ca
APPENDIX 1. INTERNATIONAL, MULTILATERAL AND BILATERAL AGREEMENTS
Agreements with the Agency
Main international treaties
Other relevant agreements
Canada has bilateral nuclear cooperation agreements with the following partners:
|Egypt||Korea, Republic of||Turkey|
|Finland||Philippines||United Arab Emirates|
|Germany||Romania||United States of America|
*Euratom encompasses 28 European Union countries: Austria; Belgium; Bulgaria; Croatia; Cyprus; Czech Republic; Denmark; Estonia; Finland; France; Germany; Greece; Hungary; Ireland; Italy; Latvia; Lithuania; Luxembourg; Malta; Netherlands; Poland; Portugal; Romania; Slovakia; Slovenia; Spain; Sweden; and the United Kingdom. Some countries are currently covered by both the Canada–Euratom agreement and separate bilateral agreements with Canada.
APPENDIX 2. MAIN ORGANIZATIONS, INSTITUTIONS AND COMPANIES INVOLVED IN NUCLEAR POWER RELATED ACTIVITIES