Tag Archives: Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission

CNA2020

WHAT WILL BE THE IMPACT OF THE NEW IMPACT ASSESSMENT AGENCY?

The CNA2020 Regulatory and Environmental Affairs pre-conference seminar will once again provide members with an opportunity to hear updates from key regulators, including the newly created Impact Assessment Agency and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC).

On August 28, 2019, the Impact Assessment Act, the Canadian Energy Regulator Act, and the Navigation Protection Act came into force. The Impact Assessment Act creates the new Impact Assessment Agency of Canada and repeals the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act of 2012.

Senior officials from the Impact Assessment Agency will provide an overview of the agency and the act, including the implementation of the act, and changes to the regulations and the impact assessment process. They will focus on how the act will apply to nuclear projects.

The CNSC will join the agency to discuss how the two government agencies are working together with joint review panels.

Following that discussion, Director of Engagement, Partnering and Integrated Planning at the Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s Ecosystems Management, Chad Ziai will outline the changes to the Fisheries Act and its new regulations.

To wrap-up the session, CNSC’s Regulatory Policy Directorate Director General Brian Torrie will provide a regulatory update as well as an update on key CNSC initiatives.

Join this CNA2020 pre-conference Regulatory Affairs Seminar on Wednesday, February 26 from 13:00 to 16:00. Registration is required for all pre-conference seminars and is not included in regular conference registration. Please see the registration terms and conditions at https://cna.ca/cna2020/registration for more information and to register.

CNA2020

CNA2020 Sponsor Spotlight: Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission

The Canadian Nuclear Association is proud to shine a spotlight on each of its CNA2020 Gold-level sponsors, which includes the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC).

The CNSC was established in 2000 under the Nuclear Safety and Control Act. It reports to Parliament through the Minister of Natural Resources. The CNSC replaced the Atomic Energy Control Board (AECB), which was founded in 1946.

The CNSC regulates the development, production, possession, use and transportation of nuclear energy, materials and equipment to protect health, safety, security and the environment. It enforces Canada’s international commitments to control the development, production, transportation and use of nuclear energy and materials, including measures related to the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. The CNSC’s mandate is also to share objective scientific, technical and regulatory information to the public about its activities and on the effects on the environment; on the health and safety of people; and on the development, production, possession, transport and use of nuclear substances.

The CNSC makes independent, fair and transparent decisions on licensing nuclear-related activities. The commission has up to seven appointed permanent members. Their decisions are supported by more than 800 employees. They are a diverse team of highly skilled nuclear professionals, including scientists, engineers, corporate professionals, new graduates and students. These employees review applications for licences according to regulatory requirements, make recommendations to the commission, and enforce compliance with the Nuclear Safety and Control Act, regulations and any licence conditions imposed by the commission.

At CNA2020, you can find the CNSC at Booth 108.

You can still register for the conference at https://cna.ca/cna2020/registration/.

CNA2020

WANO and CNSC to provide regulatory update at CNA2020

CNSC President Rumina Velshi
WANO Chairman Tom Mitchell

Get the most up-to-date regulatory information with a panel presentation at CNA2020 on Thursday, February 27, 2020, from 09:15 to 10:00. Taking the stage will be World Association of Nuclear Operators (WANO) Chairman Tom Mitchell and Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) President Rumina Velshi.

WANO is a not-for-profit international organization that helps its members maximize the safety and reliability of nuclear power plants worldwide. It was established in 1989 by the world’s nuclear power operators to exchange safety knowledge and operating experience. WANO’s members operate about 460 nuclear units in more than 30 countries and areas worldwide.

Mitchell has over 40 years of experience working in nuclear industry leadership roles. Before joining WANO, he was CEO at Ontario Power Generation. He has been an influential and active leader in WANO for many years, including being the chair of WANO’s post-Fukushima committee in 2011. He also served as the deputy director of the WANO Atlanta Centre and as governor on the WANO governing board.

The CNSC regulates 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.

It was established in 2000 and reports to the minister of natural resources.

Velshi was not new to the CNSC when she was named president and CEO in 2018. She was appointed as a permanent, part-time commission member in 2011. Throughout her career, she has worked at Ontario Hydro and Ontario Power Generation, and has served as a board member on the Ontario Energy Board. Velshi actively promotes careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, especially for young women.

Uncategorized

Small modular reactors help us take a giant leap in the fight against climate change

By John Gorman
Originally published in The Globe and Mail, December 12, 2019

To many Canadians, it may not seem like a big deal that the three provinces that have nuclear sectors – Ontario, New Brunswick and Saskatchewan – signed an agreement to develop small modular reactors (SMRs). But this milestone represents a giant leap forward for Canadian industry and the fight against climate change.

I’m new to the nuclear industry, but I’ve been working in the energy sector for 20 years. I’ve seen new technologies revolutionize how we produce and manage electricity. The development and deployment of SMRs has the potential to be even more transformative than the introduction of wind and solar power.

Why am I and others in the energy sector so excited about SMRs? The answer is in their name. First, they are small. Large reactors are powerful: They generate clean and inexpensive electricity for decades. But they take years to build, they are suitable only for large demand and they can’t be moved. SMRs, on the other hand, are like solar power in that they can be scaled to suit local needs.

SMRs are also modular, meaning they can be mass-produced and shipped to remote locations. A small city could use an SMR until it reaches capacity, then add another as the city grows. A mine could use an SMR to help with its peak production, then ship it to a new location when operations slow down.

The modular approach will also help to reduce costs. A new advanced reactor could cost more than $1-billion, but mass production removes duplication of the costs of licensing and customization. Bulk purchasing of parts and replication of skills would reduce costs further. In short, the upfront investment will be big, while the payoff in terms of inexpensive energy will last decades.

SMRs are to large reactors what desktops were to mainframe computers in the 1980s. They made computing practical, flexible and accessible for everyone.

There are three main ways that SMRs can transform Canada’s energy sector. First, as more provinces and territories phase out coal, SMRs can fill in the gap, producing similar amounts of power without carbon emissions and other pollution. SMRs produce a steady supply of electricity making it an ideal partner to wind and solar by eliminating the need for fossil fuel backups when the wind isn’t blowing or the sun isn’t shining.

Second, SMRs can be deployed in the many remote communities in Canada that still use fossil fuels to generate electricity because it’s simply not economical to build hundreds of kilometres of power lines to connect to the grid.

Finally, SMRs can help with the operation of heavy industry, such as oil sands and mines. These facilities are a big part of Canada’s economy, but they are often remote and off-grid, and they need a lot of heat and power to operate.

There are some environmentalists who still resist the expansion of nuclear power. When I was chief executive of the Canadian Solar Industries Association, I was one of them. That’s until I realized that the critical transition to a low-carbon economy will be almost impossible without the reliable, safe and clean energy that nuclear technology provides. We need nuclear power to reduce emissions, as an increasing number of environmentalists, industry leaders and the International Energy Agency agree.

SMRs have several safety advantages built into them. Some designs use molten salt or liquid sodium as a coolant instead of water. Some are built so that the reactor shuts down if it is not being actively managed, while others are designed so that the reaction slows if it gets too hot. And the designs incorporate several advances in managing waste as well. Some are designed to require refuelling only every few years or even decades, and some “recycle” spent fuel, producing only a fraction of the waste of a conventional reactor.

We’re about to witness a fascinating race to determine the best SMR design, and some of the leading candidates are Canadian. Three companies have now passed the first review by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission. They are now entering the second phase, a more detailed examination of their safety. Seven more designs are now in the first phase, and Canadian Nuclear Laboratories plans to have a demonstration unit built by 2026.

Canada has a great history as a leader in nuclear technology, dating back decades. We have some of the largest resources of uranium in the world. We also have the right people with the right skills to build safe and reliable nuclear reactors. And now that three provinces consider them a key technology for meeting emission targets, we have a clear demand for SMRs.

The agreement between the three provinces is the beginning of a transformation of our energy sector. But it’s more than that. We’ve just witnessed an election campaign that exposed regional divisions around energy and climate change. I don’t think SMRs are the entire answer to this debate, but they have the potential to be a uniting force between federal and provincial interests. Working together, we can use SMRs to meet our growing energy needs, reduce emissions and introduce carbon-free electricity to many new places in Canada and around the world.

Uncategorized

Nuclear industry eyes more federal support of ‘small modular reactors,’ as advocates push for Ottawa to hit pause

By Jolson Lim
Originally published in The Hill Times, December 3, 2018

The Canadian nuclear industry is looking for more federal government involvement in supporting the development of a new generation of reactors, after Natural Resources Canada put out a “roadmap” report earlier this month, spelling out steps different players in the sector could take.

The small modular reactor (SMR) roadmap was published on Nov. 7, and was co-developed between different public and private sector stakeholders. It recommends that federal, provincial, and territorial governments, along with utilities, industry, and the federally-funded national laboratory support demonstration of the use of SMR technology.

It also proposed: financial risk-sharing between the different players to support early deployment; the modernization of legislative and regulatory requirements to make development economically viable and timely; the development of a “robust knowledge base” for SMR technology; and for commitment to proactively engage with Indigenous communities.

SMRs are typically defined as nuclear reactors generating less than 300 megawatts of energy, and proponents see it as a promising source as the world struggles to fight climate change.

In Canada, backers see SMRs as a way to phase out diesel power for remote and Northern communities. However, to make it economically feasible within a small window of time for it to become a tool in reducing emissions, it would require demonstration soon, and eventually would require a fleet of reactors so manufacturers could benefit from more efficient and financially stable production.

But there is strong opposition to new nuclear energy development based on both environmental and safety concerns.

Nevertheless, any future development would likely have to involve government funding to support demonstration, on top of a regulatory review and placing a stronger emphasis on such technology in climate change plans.

“What would be so important now is for the government to show its policy support,” said John Barrett, president and CEO of the Canadian Nuclear Association (CNA). “But that kind of holistic policy statement is not available yet.”

Mr. Barrett’s association submitted a letter addressed to Finance Minister Bill Morneau (Toronto Centre, Ont.) following the release of his fall economic update in November.

The letter calls for the extension of clean technology and clean infrastructure funding and support programs, such as the ability to expense of 100 per cent of capital investments and loan guarantees, to nuclear technology in the next budget.

It also asks the federal government to recognize nuclear as part of Canada’s suite of clean energy technologies and to create a funding mechanism for applied research and development of the next generation of reactors.

“Such measures would go a long way in creating the supportive business innovation climate needed in Canada today to encourage clean technology developers and start-ups in the nuclear sector,” it reads. “Only with a significant scale-up of such sources can Canada meet its Paris climate targets.”

Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) is currently partnering with small-reactor proponents to get a prototype built at one of its sites by 2026 for future demonstration. The company wants to prove the commercial viability of such reactors, and position Canada as a global hub for testing and development.

The company is aiming for it to occur at its Chalk River research facility, which sits about 200 kilometres northwest of Ottawa. CNL manages and operates the two research laboratories in Canada for Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd., the crown corporation that owns such facilities.

Interest in SMRs is particularly strong in New Brunswick, where the local utility, NB Power, has partnered with an American firm to develop a small reactor in the province.

Mr. Barrett said Canada is in a commanding place with the development of SMRs, given its good regulatory and research environment and interest from different players. Globally, it makes the country an attractive place for development.

However, he said more federal focus is needed on nuclear energy.

“Nuclear is one of the tools that is sitting in the box and government hasn’t really pulled it out and taken a good look at what it can do,” said Mr. Barrett, adding it has a lot of export potential as well.

Concerns with SMRs

There are concerns that nuclear’s advantage as a low-carbon energy source is offset by serious safety and other environmental concerns.

Ole Hendrickson, a researcher for the advocacy group Concerned Citizens of Renfrew County and Area—where the Chalk River facility is located—said proponents of nuclear energy ignore other emissions, including various noble gases, iodine, and radioactive waste that has to be expensively and carefully managed. Such waste remains dangerous long after its use, and disposal remains a major concern and question.

“We don’t see small modular reactors as any different,” he said.

Earlier this month, the group appeared on Parliament Hill alongside Green Party leader Elizabeth May (Saanich-Gulf Islands, B.C.) to voice their concern over SMRs ahead of the release of the roadmap report.

Lynn Jones, a member of the citizens’ group, also questioned whether federal government funding is worth it, given there are concerns about its economic viability that has recently seen nuclear power struggle to grow globally.

“They can’t possibly succeed without significant government subsidies, the private sector has backed away from them all over the world,” she said. “They’ve come to Canada to try and get the government to subsidize them.”

Her group recently submitted two petitions to the Auditor General of Canada, with the first voicing concerns that any investment in future nuclear power would tie-up funds that would otherwise go to other proven renewables that could more quickly and effectively reduce carbon emissions. The second petition asks federal ministers to provide a justification for considering nuclear power to be a form of clean energy.

“It would take way too long to develop SMRs, apart from the fact there’s lots of other concerns about them,” she said.

The road ahead

John Stewart, director of policy and research at the CNA—speaking as the project manager of the SMR roadmap—said the report makes recommendations to a wide range of players, including governments, waste management organizations, industry, researchers, and the regulator, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission.

He said the “logical next step” is for one facilitating player to survey all those players to see what commitments they’re willing to make to further SMRs development.

“You need someone to do all that and elicit offers from the different players, get them to make specific commitments and eventually translate that into sort of national action plan,” he said.

He said he was pleased to see Natural Resources Minister Amarjeet Sohi (Edmonton Mill Woods, Alta.) attend the roadmap launch last month, despite not seeing a “lot in the way of signals” for nuclear power from the federal Liberal government.

Mr. Stewart said if the federal government offers a strong signal that SMRs can be a serious energy source, other players will follow up with tangible commitments.

“That would be a positive signal for other players to step up,” he said.

Nuclear energy accounts for almost 15 per cent of all electricity generated in Canada, particularly from two massive power plants in Ontario providing power to the Toronto region.

Mr. Stewart said nuclear power’s outlook has improved, but attitudes toward the severity of climate change haven’t matured fast enough that would see countries move quickly on SMRs.

“It looks better than it has in the past. Good would be going too far,” he said.

CNA2019

CNA2019 panel: Role of the Regulators

Top to bottom: Adrienne Kelbie, The Honourable Kristine Svinicki, Rumina Velshi

On Thursday, February 28, at 10:15 am, Adrienne Kelbie, The Honourable Kristine Svinicki and Rumina Velshi will gather onstage at CNA2019 to discuss new nuclear and the role of regulators.

The regulators are the touchstone of the nuclear industry’s credibility as a safe, secure and safeguarded industry. What role will the regulating bodies play with respect to New Nuclear? With advanced designs, technologies, fuels coming closer every day to demonstration and commercialization, how do the regulators fulfill their mandates so that benefits of nuclear for climate, economy and health can be safely and confidently enjoyed?

Adrienne Kelbie is the Chief Executive of the UK’s Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) The ONR Board appointed her as Chief Executive in January 2016. She came to ONR from the Disclosure and Barring Service which safeguards vulnerable people and has undergone significant change since its formation in 2012. Her role reflects its significant public profile, sensitivity of data and need for finely balanced decisions.

Kristine Svinicki is the Chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. She has a distinguished career as a nuclear engineer and policy advisor, working at the state and federal levels of government, and in both the legislative and executive branches. Before joining the NRC, Svinicki spent over a decade as a staff member in the United States Senate advancing a wide range of policies and initiatives related to national security, science and technology, and energy and the environment.

Rumina Velshi is the President and CEO of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission. Her five-year term began August 22, 2018. Before that she was appointed as a permanent, part-time Commission member in 2011 and re-appointed for a second five-year term in March 2018. Throughout her career, she has worked in various capacities at Ontario Hydro and Ontario Power Generation where, in her last role, she was Director, Planning and Control for the Darlington New Nuclear Project. Ms. Velshi is very active in the promotion of careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), especially for young women. She was one of the founding members of Canada’s Women in Science and Engineering.

For more information about CNA2019 visit https://cna.ca/cna2019/.