Canadian reactors to review safety plans

OTTAWA, CANADA - In the wake of the nuclear crisis in Japan, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission has ordered all reactor operators to revisit their safety plans and report on potential improvements to be made by AprilÂ’s end.

Federal Natural Resources Minister Christian Paradis wrote a letter to the Ontario energy minister saying the nuclear regulator has kept abreast of the efforts to cool the Fukushima Daiichi power plant in coastal Japan where a massive earthquake struck, saying the reactors should “review initial lessons from the Japanese earthquake and re-examine the safety cases for the reactors.”

In the letter, addressed to Ontario Energy Minister Brad Duguid, Mr. Paradis asked for a focus on external hazards, things like seismic shifts, floods, fire and extreme weather events — all things Japan has weathered in the 10 days since the initial 9.0 quake sent a tsunami flooding over the coastline.

The Nuclear Safety Commission, which is reports to the Department of Natural Resources, also asked regulators to review emergency preparedness systems, and other protocols that help the reactors steer clear of severe accidents.

“Operators are to report, by April 29, on implementation plans for short- and long-term measures to address any significant gaps,” he said in the letter, which was in reply to one sent by Mr. Duguid, which asked for the Commission to think about the Japanese crisis as it starts to look at Ontario Power Generation’s plans for construction of two reactors at the Darlington nuclear station.

A panel created by the Commission and Environment Canada launched hearings to find out how suitable the Darlington site would be for the construction of the reactors. Ontario Power Generation needs separate licences to build and operate each reactor.

“As information becomes available on what led to the events in Japan, any new lessons learned will be applied,” Mr. Paradis said, agreeing that the panel should proceed.

Canada has five nuclear power stations: three in Ontario at Darlington, Bruce and Pickering Point Lepreau in New Brunswick and QuebecÂ’s Gentilly. It also has a research reactor at Chalk River, Ont.


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