IAEA concludes Canada prepared to respond to nuclear emergency
An 11-person International Atomic Energy Agency team visited various sites in Ontario and New Brunswick
OTTAWA — The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has published its final report following an 11-day mission to review Canada’s emergency preparedness and response framework for nuclear and radiological emergencies.
The mission, which took place Jun. 3-13, 2019, focused on preparedness for emergencies that could stem from events at nuclear power plants.
Health Canada says the IAEA commended Canada for a well-developed and mature preparedness system in place across all levels of government, and for its implementation of IAEA safety standards.
The review also identified other positives in Canadian protocol:
- the pre-distribution of and clear instructions for taking potassium iodide pills;
- a streamlined process for the submission of claims in the event of a nuclear or radiological emergency;
- the Warden Service in New Brunswick, which uses volunteers to provide instructions and warnings to the public in emergencies; and
- the use of social media simulators in exercises to enhance the ability of response organizations to effectively respond to misinformation.
The review team also made some recommendations to strengthen emergency preparedness and response. These include:
- undertaking further analyses of the benefits of sheltering and evacuation under various circumstances and around optimizing decontamination measures;
- developing a detailed monitoring strategy;
- defining and documenting roles and responsibilities and arrangements for the safe management of off-site radioactive waste arising from an emergency; and
- developing criteria and procedures for terminating a nuclear emergency.
Health Canada says the government and its partners have developed an action plan to address the recommendation in the report, and intend to host a follow-up EPREV mission in the future.
Patty Hajdu, minister of Health, said in a statement, “Canadians can rest assured that robust emergency management protocols and systems are in place to respond in the event of a nuclear emergency. I am proud of the results of this mission, and look forward to overseeing the implementation of strengthened emergency preparedness practices stemming from the review.”
The 11-person review team for the Canadian mission included experts from the United States, Australia, Finland, France, Germany, the Republic of Korea, Romania, South Africa and Sweden, who visited various sites in Ontario and New Brunswick, Canada’s two provinces with active nuclear reactor facilities.
In Canada, 19 nuclear reactors are operated at four sites, generating about 15% of the country’s electricity.