Canadian nuclear regulatory inspections called inadequate

Oct 21, 2016

Canada's federal government watchdog is calling for the country's nuclear regulator to beef up inspections of the country's nuclear power plants. In a recent report, the commissioner of the environment found several serious issues.


Canada has five nuclear power plants, three of them in Ontario. Of those three, two of them are on the north shore of Lake Ontario, just east of Toronto. Together, they supply enough energy for almost 3.5 million people.
            
But the commissioner of the environment has found the agency that regulates the nuclear industry was not adequately inspecting those nuclear power plants. Julie Gelfand says her audit focused only on how the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission manages its site inspections.

The Pickering Nuclear Generating Station is one of the world's largest nuclear generating facilities
Credit opg.com

"We found that for site inspections, 75 percent of them were done without an approved guide. It's a bit like an airline pilot who doesn't go through his checklist before taking off," Gelfand said.
 
Gelfand also found inaccurate or incomplete planning records and, in some cases, some inspections were recorded as having been completed when they were not.
 
"This kind of lack of precision in a precision industry, I think, is not really acceptable. These mistakes shouldn't happen when we're dealing with nuclear power plants," she added.
 
Gelfand's report led to questions in the Canadian Parliament. But prime minister Justin Trudeau said his government takes nuclear safety and security seriously. Officials say they have confidence in the nuclear regulator and that Canada is seen as a worldwide leader in how it oversees the nuclear industry.   

The nuclear safety commission says it is addressing the report and will make sure inspectors follow all safety protocols.