Federal Nuclear Emergency Plan

The Federal Nuclear Emergency Plan (FNEP) describes the Government of Canada’s arrangements for managing a major nuclear emergency. It is a multi-departmental event-specific plan that outlines the roles and responsibilities of federal organizations in preparing for and responding to a nuclear emergency. The FNEP focuses on the coordination and execution of federal scientific/technical activities required for nuclear emergency response while the  Federal Emergency Response Plan (FERP) provides the broader response structure.

The FNEP was first developed in 1984 as a response to two events:

  • The crash of the nuclear satellite COSMOS 954 in the Northwest Territories in 1978; and
  • The accident at Three Mile Island nuclear generating station in Pennsylvania in 1979.

Three other events, Chernobyl, Ukraine, in 1986, Tokaimura, Japan, in 1999, and one more recently in Fukushima, Japan, in 2011, have underscored the necessity of having effective nuclear emergency preparedness and response arrangements in place. Lessons learned from nuclear emergencies are used to update and revise the FNEP.

Health Canada's Role

Health Canada is the lead department responsible for coordinating the nuclear emergency response of more than eighteen federal organizations in support of impacted provinces and territories. A structured framework is required to facilitate coordination as these organizations have distinct roles and responsibilities. The FNEP provides this structure for coordinating planning and response to a peacetime nuclear emergency involving Canadians at home and abroad.

FNEP Fifth Edition

The FNEP was recently revised following extensive consultations and discussions with federal and provincial partners.  This revision updated the procedures and structures outlined in the FNEP.  On October 9, 2012 the Deputy Ministers Emergency Management Committee endorsed the FNEP 5th edition. Along with this endorsement, the Committee agreed to test the revised FNEP in a national-level full-scale exercise.

FNEP and Emergency Preparedness Exercises

The revised FNEP is being tested through a series of emergency preparedness exercises known as ValidEx. An exercise is an artificial situation designed to enable emergency response organizations to evaluate the effectiveness of their emergency plans, procedures, and capabilities. Exercises are intended to identify any problems, inadequacies, or gaps in preparedness and response plans so that these issues may be resolved prior to a real emergency, and provide opportunities for personnel to be thoroughly trained and ready to respond quickly and effectively. The ValidEx series consists of exercises increasing in scope and complexity: a table top exercise (TTX), two Emergency Management Workshops, a command post exercise (CPX) and a full scale exercise (FSX).

Table Top Exercise

The first in the ValidEx series was a half-day Table Top Exercise that took place on February 26, 2013. It involved FNEP federal partners and introduced participants to technical assessment arrangements described in the FNEP.

Emergency Management Workshops

Two Emergency Management Workshops were held in early 2013, one in Toronto, Ontario on March 21 and 22, 2013 and the other in Saint John, New Brunswick on March 26 and 27, 2013.  These workshops involved representatives from federal, provincial, and municipal governments and operators who would have a significant role to play in the response to a nuclear emergency.

Exercise Cool Breeze (Command Post Exercise)

The Command Post Exercise (CPX) took place on October 2 and 3, 2013. Invited participants included the Federal FNEP partners and key Emergency Operation Centres (Health Portfolio Operations Centre (HP OC), Government Operations Centre (GOC), and the Ontario Provincial Emergency Operations Centre (ON PEOC)). As well, Ontario Power Generation (OPG) participated as observers. The CPX focused on technical information exchange, sharing situational awareness, and transmission of requests for information and recommendations.

Exercise Unified Response (Full-Scale Exercise)

The FNEP ValidEx series culminates with a Full Scale Exercise called Exercise Unified Response that will take place the week of May 26, 2014. OPG’s Darlington Nuclear Generating Station is the host of this exercise. Participants will include OPG, municipalities, the Province of Ontario, Federal regional participants, and Federal partners from the National Capital Region. This exercise will focus on the integration of plans and arrangements across all responding organizations and jurisdictions.

For more information on Exercise Unified Response:

  • Ontario Power Generation News Release from February 12, 2014

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