Tag Archives: Emergency Preparedness


Preparing For the Unexpected

Fort McMurray. A city once synonymous with oil is now known for the worst forest fire in Alberta’s history. The massive blaze exploded thanks to hot, dry weather. It has scorched over 200,000 hectares of ground and counting. It will take months before the flames are finally extinguished, and many more before lives can be rebuilt.

Natural threats, like the forest fire in Fort McMurray, are reminders of the challenges that every industry faces and subsequently must address: preparing for severe events that can happen, often with little or no warning.

The nuclear industry is not without its own risks from Mother Nature.  In March 2011 one of the most powerful earthquakes on the planet opened up the sea floor and unleashed a wall of water on the Japanese coast.  The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant was hit by an earthquake and a tsunami that were both much larger than its builders had contemplated.  The resulting accident led to a world-wide scrutiny of power reactors for their ability to resist extreme natural events.  The nuclear industry has since instituted what we call “beyond design” safety measures to prepare for events beyond the range used as a basis in the original design process.


Being prepared for severe weather events requires an enormous undertaking by industry.  Different industries are accountable to different regulatory bodies, organizations that operate at an arm’s length from government and aim to ensure that best practices are followed.

Nuclear reactors at Canadian sites, and the facilities around them, have numerous, layered design features and operating procedures that rendered very, very low risk the possibility of an accident because of extreme weather – such as winter ice storms or high winds.  These features and procedures have worked well for the more than fifty years that the industry has generated electricity for Canadians.  In all this time, we have not had a radiation release that harmed people or the environment.

Should nature get the best of all these technological, engineering, construction and operational defences, we know how to respond quickly in response.  The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC)  requires all nuclear power plant operators to have a fire response team and the regulator mandates that “the licensee also supports provincial and local authorities in their response efforts.”

For example, Cameco Corporation’s emergency response program at its uranium processing facility in Port Hope, Ontario is comprehensive and includes approximately 60 highly trained employees, most of whom have specialized training in industrial firefighting and hazardous materials. As has been seen in Alberta, a coordinated response to a natural disaster is important. Cameco covers the cost of hazardous material training for all members of the Port Hope fire and emergency services department, which would support the efforts of Cameco’s emergency response team in the event of a natural disaster.

Post Fukushima, reactor operator Bruce Power, which boasts a team of 400 highly trained emergency personnel, worked with other industry experts to develop state of the art fire trucks which included doubling the water capability, night-scan lights and LED technology. In addition to the new fire trucks, the company also purchased portable back-up generators and invested in specific post-Fukushima training. Throughout the nuclear industry and supply chain, organizations realize the importance of investing to prepare for the unexpected.  That is the best and prudent way to minimizing the impacts that severe weather can have on people, the environment and industry.

Nuclear News Nuclear Pride Nuclear Safety

FireFit and TopCop are Coming to Chalk River!

This July 7 and 8, FireFit and TopCop are coming to Chalk River! AECL is hosting this competitive event for the first time in the area, at the Laurentian Hills Fire Department – Chalk River Branch. The event is free and open to the public and media.

FireFit and TopCop Competition in Chalk River

What is FireFit and TopCop?

FireFit and TopCop are competitions that simulate the fire fighting and security tasks most often performed in emergency situations. The purpose of the FireFit and TopCop events is to showcase the demands of fire fighting and of being a security/ law enforcement professional. In both competitions, participants are challenged to race through designated courses and perform emergency tasks, all while dressed in the full equipment of a typical fire fighter or police officer at the scene of an emergency.

“By hosting this event in Chalk River, AECL can display the exemplary capabilities of the emergency personnel we have on site. It also allows us a great opportunity to work with our community partners. These competitions give the public some insight into the rigorous training and state of readiness that these employees maintain,” said Brian Mumford, Director of Emergency and Protective Services at AECL.

Activities at Firefit/TopCop Weekend

  • Firefit Race – Free (10:30 a.m. Saturday)
  • TopCop Race – Free (10:30 a.m. Sunday)
  • Petting Zoo – Free
  • BBQ – $
  • Pig Roast Dinner – $10 (6:30 p.m. Saturday)

AECL has worked alongside local organizations and community members to help pull this event together, including the Town of Laurentian Hills, CFB Petawawa and a number of other sponsors.

For more information about Firefit and TopCop please visit www.firefit.com or www.beatopcop.com.  A portion of the proceeds from this event will be donated to the Heart & Stroke Foundation.

2012 is a milestone year for AECL as it also celebrates 60 years as Canada’s premier nuclear science and technology organization. For more information about AECL, please visit www.aecl.ca.

Nuclear News Nuclear Pride

Bruce Power Team Wins U.S. National SWAT Championship

Congratulations to Bruce Power‘s Nuclear Response Team which has captured first prize at the 2011 U.S. National SWAT Championship in Tulsa, Oklahoma!

This is a great example the daily efforts of qualified professionals in the Canadian nuclear industry who are committed to ensuring public safety, and  an example of the many layers of protection between our nuclear operations, our employees and the communities in which we operate.

Bruce Power team members (from left) are: Ben Nevin, Jordan MacDougall, Sam McCulloch, Trevor Urbshott, Adam Atyeo, Alex Torrie, Mike McFarlane and Kyle Roulston.

This is the fourth year in a row Bruce Power has taken top prize at the competition which consists of eight tactical events that test fitness, weapons skills and team organization. Bruce Power finished first in six of those eight events which simulate real-life scenarios faced by tactical officers. Scoring is based on time and target hits and the events are conducted in full tactical gear in head-to-head stages.

Mike McFarlane gives it his all during the US National SWAT Championship where Bruce Power finished first for the fourth year running.

“This team is a real credit to our company and have demonstrated great pride, dedication and integrity in winning this championship,” said Duncan Hawthorne, Bruce Power’s President and Chief Executive Officer.

Jordan MacDougall (foreground) and members of the Bruce Power team prepare to compete during the US National SWAT Championship.

Bruce Power was the only Canadian team competing at the event which attracted 23 tactical units from the U.S. and abroad. The team donated the prizes it won to various cash-strapped law enforcement organizations in the United States earning a standing ovation at the event’s awards banquet.

Bruce Power’s Alex Torrie runs for the finish line carrying a dummy during the US National SWAT Championship in Tulsa.

“These dedicated officers make an incredible personal sacrifice to be competitive at this level and to do this year-after-year is unprecedented,” said John Latouf, Deputy Chief Emergency and Protective Services. “The team that won it for the first time in Colorado has only two members on this year’s championship team so this is a true cross-section of our entire workgroup.”

Latouf said the competition team are Nuclear Response Team members first and part-time competitors second and will be back on shift this week protecting the Bruce Power facility alongside their fellow officers.

Earlier this year, Bruce Power formed a new integrated emergency response organization combining all of its emergency response capability into a single organization including its security team.

“We are all very proud of their efforts and they are always excellent ambassadors for Bruce Power,” Latouf said.

Competition history

  • April, 2005     Placed fifth at World SWAT Challenge
  • April, 2006     Eighth place at World SWAT Challenge
  • June, 2006      First place in Police/Military category at the Security Protection Officer Team Competition (SPOTC)
  • May, 2007       Fourth at the World SWAT Challenge
  • June, 2007      First place in the Police/Military category at SPOTC.
  • Sept. 2007      First at Canadian Nuclear Security Officer’s Challenge
  • May, 2008       First at U.S. National SWAT Championships
  • June, 2008      First in Police/Military category at SPOTC
  • June, 2009      First in Police/Military category at SPOTC
  • June, 2009      First overall at U.S. National SWAT Championships
  • June, 2010      First in Police/Military category at SPOTC
  • June, 2010      First overall at U.S. National SWAT
  • June, 2011      First in Police/Military category at SPOTC
  • Oct. 2011       First overall at U.S. National SWAT Championships