International Atomic Energy Agency Emergency Preparedness Review Mission to Canada in June 2019

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) undertook an Emergency Preparedness Review (EPREV) mission to Canada from June 3-13, 2019, led by a team of international experts. The purpose of this independent review was to assess Canada's level of preparedness for nuclear and radiological emergencies based on the IAEA safety standards and international best practices. It also identified opportunities to increase Canada's ability to protect public health and safety.

After completing the EPREV Review Mission, the IAEA published a press release commending Canadian best practices and identifying opportunities for further strengthening Canadian arrangements. The final report was published in February 2020, and will be considered in ongoing efforts to strengthen the arrangements to prepare for, and respond to nuclear and radiological emergencies.


The IAEA undertakes EPREV peer-reviewed missions to Member States by request.

In February 2017, Canada requested that the IAEA carry out its first Canadian EPREV mission. Given that nuclear emergency preparedness and response is a shared responsibility in Canada, the scope of the EPREV mission included federal authorities, provinces with operating nuclear power plants (Ontario and New Brunswick), and the nuclear power plant operators.

Canada was the first G7 country to request an EPREV mission, highlighting the Government of Canada's commitment to protecting the health and safety of Canadians.

Partners participating in the EPREV mission are:

Federal partners:

Ontario Partners

New Brunswick Partners

Nuclear Power Plant Operators

Other Non-Government Partners

Final Report Executive Summary

This report provides the results of the Emergency Preparedness Review (EPREV) mission to Canada from 3 to 13 June 2019. The mission was undertaken by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in response to a request from the Government of Canada. EPREV missions are designed to provide a peer review of emergency preparedness and response (EPR) arrangements in a country, based on the IAEA Safety Standards. The mission focused on preparedness for emergencies originating from events at Emergency Preparedness Category I (EPC I) facilities, as defined in IAEA Safety Standards Series No. GSR Part 7, Preparedness and Response for a Nuclear or Radiological Emergency, which includes emergencies taking place at nuclear power plants (NPPs), irrespective of their initiating events. In addition, and as agreed with the Canadian counterparts responsible for the EPREV and those responsible for the Integrated Regulatory Review Service (IRRS) scheduled for September 2019, Module 10 (EPR) of the IRRS was included in the Canada EPREV and excluded from the Canada IRRS.

The team for the EPREV mission consisted of international EPR experts from IAEA Member States, as well as a team coordinator and deputy team coordinator from the IAEA Secretariat. The EPREV mission took place in Ottawa, the national capital of Canada, as well as in the Provinces of Ontario and New Brunswick, the only Canadian provinces that have operating commercial nuclear power plants. The EPREV consisted of a review, prior to the actual mission, of extensive reference materials provided by Canada and, during the mission, of site visits and interviews. The EPREV team interacted during the mission with government officials at the federal, provincial and municipal levels, as well as with staff of two NPPs.

This report includes recommendations and suggestions for improvements by Canada, based on the principles, requirements and recommendations of the IAEA Safety Standards; the report also mentions good practices that were observed and that are considered models for other Member States. In some cases, improvements in line with the detailed findings are already being undertaken. In other cases, the Government of Canada should adopt an action plan to implement the recommendations and suggestions.

The Government of Canada is to be commended for the well-developed and mature EPR system in place across all levels of government. This system, consistent with the Constitution and governance system in Canada, places leadership for preparedness and response for emergencies at nuclear power plants largely with authorities in Ontario and New Brunswick, the two provinces in which operating nuclear power plants are located. The federal government acts in a support role, as requested by the provinces and within areas of exclusive federal jurisdiction.

Canada is also to be commended for its implementation of the IAEA Safety Standards throughout its EPR programme, and for exceeding them in some cases. In addition, in hosting an EPREV, the Canadian government has taken a leadership role among developed countries with mature nuclear power programmes by availing itself of the IAEA EPR peer review service.

The EPREV team noted some areas where improvements could be made, most of which the Government of Canada is aware of, as indicated in its self-assessment made prior to the EPREV mission. In several cases, actions are already in progress to address the opportunities for improvement noted. Examples of recommendations in the EPREV report include provisions for justification and optimization of the individual protective actions, development of a detailed monitoring strategy and development of detailed arrangements for terminating a nuclear emergency.

The team also noted a number of specific commendable practices. These good practices refer to aspects that go beyond the expectations set in the IAEA safety standards. Among these, the EPREV team identified pre-distribution of potassium iodide, complemented with clear instructions and advice, in areas outside of the Precautionary Action Zone. Another example is the New Brunswick Warden Service, an innovative approach to using volunteers to ensure that instructions and warnings are provided to the public in a variety of emergency situations. Additionally, the clear, focused and effective preparation and support for, and the coordination of, the EPREV mission were exemplary and constitute a positive model for Member States who may consider hosting an EPREV or other IAEA peer review service.

This report serves as the final record of the EPREV mission. The IAEA will continue to work with Canada to enhance its national EPR arrangements. Canada has committed to developing an Action Plan to implement the recommendations and suggestions in this report and to inviting the IAEA for an EPREV follow-up mission to review their implementation.

The full report is available on the IAEA's website.

Summary of Canada's Action Plan

Canada recognizes the importance of international peer reviews and is committed to protecting the health and safety of Canadians, and the environment.

The EPREV mission confirmed that Canada has a mature nuclear emergency preparedness and response program at all levels of government and with the nuclear power plants, and is ready to respond to a nuclear emergency in Canada. The mission to Canada provided valuable insights for Canada as well as the EPREV team members. The IAEA commended Canada on several international best practices. Opportunities were also identified to further strengthen Canada's ability to prepare for, and respond to, nuclear and radiological emergencies.

Furthering the commitment to protect the health and safety of Canadians, an Action Plan has been developed to address the findings of the EPREV final report in a timely manner, and prepare for the IAEA's follow-up EPREV mission. Implementing Canada's Action Plan will require collaboration from all levels of government to address areas such as nuclear security, nuclear emergency protection strategies, off-site waste management and arrangements for the termination of a nuclear emergency. Specific initiatives that will be undertaken include:

Hazard Assessment

  • Consider the impacts of nuclear security events to on-site and off-site emergency response
  • Revise arrangements to coordinate on-site and off-site responses when concurrent with a nuclear security event
  • Conduct exercises to test arrangements

Overall Protection Strategy

  • Review current protective action decision-making procedures
  • Elaborate on decision-making guidance documents and tools for the justification and optimization of the protection strategy
  • Update the Canadian Guidelines for Intervention During a Nuclear Emergency to cover the full set of protective actions

Off-Site Radiological Waste Management

  • Formalize a national waste management working group
  • Formally outline roles and responsibilities
  • Develop formal waste-management arrangements

Arrangements to End an Emergency and Transition to Recovery

  • Host an IAEA workshop on emergency termination
  • Publish Canadian guidance document on nuclear emergency recovery
  • Identify roles and responsibilities for emergency termination and recovery
  • Develop arrangements, criteria, and procedures for ending a nuclear emergency and transitioning to recovery

This Action Plan will be implemented in collaboration with all partners at the federal, provincial and municipal levels, as well as the nuclear power plant operators.

Canada's response: 2019 International Atomic Energy Agency emergency preparedness review

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