Intergovernmental forum concludes that Canada is well prepared to respond to a nuclear

From: Health Canada

February 19, 2020 – Ottawa, ON – Health Canada

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) today published its final report following an 11-day mission to review Canada’s emergency preparedness and response framework for nuclear and radiological emergencies. The Emergency Preparedness Review (EPREV) was carried out at the request of the Canadian government, making Canada the first G7 country to request an EPREV mission and highlighting its commitment to protecting the health and safety of Canadians.

The mission, which took place June 3-13, 2019, focused on preparedness for emergencies that could stem from events at nuclear power plants. The IAEA commended Canada for the well-developed and mature preparedness system in place across all levels of government, and for its robust implementation of the IAEA safety standards in nuclear and radiological emergency preparedness response.

The IAEA also recognized Canada for several good practices that go beyond expectations in the IAEA safety standards. These include:

  • the pre-distribution of and clear instructions for taking potassium iodide pills;
  • a streamlined process for the submission of claims in the event of a nuclear or radiological emergency;
  • the innovative Warden Service in New Brunswick, which uses volunteers to provide instructions and warnings to the public in emergencies; and
  • the use of social media simulators in exercises to enhance the ability of response organizations to effectively respond to misinformation.

The review team also made some recommendations and suggestions to strengthen emergency preparedness and response. These include:

  • undertaking further analyses of the benefits of sheltering and evacuation under various circumstances and around optimizing decontamination measures;
  • developing a detailed monitoring strategy;
  • defining and documenting roles and responsibilities and arrangements for the safe management of off-site radioactive waste arising from an emergency; and
  • developing criteria and procedures for terminating a nuclear emergency.

The Government of Canada and its partners have developed an action plan to address the recommendations and suggestions in the report, and intend to host a follow-up EPREV mission in the future.

Quotes

“Canadians can rest assured that robust emergency management protocols and systems are in place to respond in the event of a nuclear emergency. I am proud of the results of this mission, and look forward to overseeing the implementation of strengthened emergency preparedness practices stemming from the review.”

The Honourable Patty Hajdu

Minister of Health

“With this report, Canada is recognized internationally as being well prepared to manage a broad range of emergencies. The Federal Emergency and Response Plan is the backbone of our readiness. When provinces or territories ask the federal government for help in such complex circumstances, Canada’s 24/7 Government Operations Centre responds quickly. Canadians can have confidence in the systems set up at all orders of government to protect them.”

The Honourable Bill Blair

Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

“The Government of Canada highly values the important work of the IAEA. The recent EPREV mission highlighted the excellent collaboration taking place between our officials and the Agency. We encourage all IAEA member states to take full advantage of the valuable services offered by the Agency, such as its reviews missions and advisory services.”

The Honourable François-Philippe Champagne

Minister of Foreign Affairs

“By requesting this review, Canada has reinforced its strong commitment to the health and safety of Canadians and the environment. We welcome the report’s recommendations, which help us build on our excellent emergency management protocols. Canadians can remain confident that we are continually working to maintain the highest safety and security of our nuclear power systems.”

The Honourable Seamus O’Reagan

Minister of Natural Resources

“The IAEA’s EPREV mission confirmed that the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission is prepared to respond in the event of a nuclear emergency. The review mission has helped us identify areas to enhance in order to be even better prepared, strengthening public trust and reassuring Canadians that the CNSC, and Canada at large, is ready to respond. I am pleased to see our commitment validated and want to thank all participants for their strong collaboration and dedication to the safety and security of Canadians and the environment.”

Ms. Rumina Velshi

President, Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission

Quick facts

  • In Canada, 19 nuclear reactors are operated at four sites, generating about 15% of the country’s electricity. Canada also develops and exports reactor technology, helping to share and expand the benefits of the peaceful use of nuclear energy.

  • EPREV missions focus on arrangements and capabilities to prepare for and respond to nuclear and radiological emergencies. They are based on the IAEA safety standards in nuclear and radiological emergency preparedness response.

  • The 11-person review team for the Canadian mission included experts from the United States, Australia, Finland, France, Germany, the Republic of Korea, Romania, South Africa, Sweden and the IAEA.

  • IAEA representatives visited various sites in Ontario and New Brunswick, Canada’s two provinces with active nuclear reactor facilities, and met with representatives from a number of federal and provincial agencies as well as operators of the nuclear power plants.

  • The Federal Emergency Response Plan (FERP) was developed by Public Safety Canada in consultation with other federal government organizations. It harmonizes federal emergency response efforts with those of provincial and territorial governments, non-governmental organizations and the private sector.

  • The Federal Nuclear Emergency Plan (FNEP), prepared by Health Canada, is an annex to the FERP that addresses the health risks associated with a nuclear or radiological emergency. It supports rapid mobilization of federal radiological assessment and other specialized capabilities to manage the potential health risks associated with a nuclear or radiological emergency.

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