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IAEA Mission Says Canada's Pickering Nuclear Plant Has Strengthened Safety, Sees Scope for Further Improvement

2016/35
Pickering, Canada

An International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) team of experts today said Canada's Pickering Nuclear Power Plant has strengthened safety in recent years but also identified areas where work is needed to further improve the facility's operational safety.

The Operational Safety Review Team (OSART) today concluded a 19-day mission to assess operational safety at the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station, located outside Toronto on the shores of Lake Ontario.

The team found that the facility has made good progress in a number of operational safety areas, for example by installing severe accident simulation software. The team also proposed further safety enhancements, including measures to ensure proper maintenance of safety-relevant equipment.

OSART missions aim to improve operational safety by objectively assessing safety performance using the IAEA's Safety Standards and proposing recommendations for improvement where appropriate.

Ontario Power Generation (OPG) operates six reactors at the site, with an additional two reactors in safe shutdown state. The units are CANDU pressurized heavy water reactors, which commonly use natural uranium as fuel and heavy water as a coolant and moderator. Unit 1 came online in 1971, while unit 8 was the last to be connected to the grid, in 1986. The site hosted OSART missions in 1987 and 2004.

"We noted that the Pickering Nuclear Power Plant has made good progress in their operational safety performance in the past several years.  Many safety enhancements were implemented," said team leader Fuming Jiang, Senior Nuclear Safety Officer at the IAEA.

"We observed that the plant’s senior leadership team is constantly reinforcing the value of safety as the top priority."

The 18-member team comprised experts and observers from Belgium, Brazil, the People's Republic of China, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, Romania, Russia Federation, Slovak Republic, Sweden and the United States of America as well as the IAEA.

The review covered the following areas: leadership and management for safety; training and qualification; operations; maintenance; technical support; operating experience; radiation protection; chemistry; emergency preparedness and response; accident management; human, technology and organization; long-term operation as well as the transitional period from operation to decommissioning.

The OSART team identified a number of good practices that will be shared with the nuclear industry globally, including:

  • The plant sponsors a community-based educational and leadership development programme that engages partners such as a local university and a theatre group. The long-standing programme, which includes mentoring for high school students and other components, provides a forum for the plant to educate the public on its operations while also promoting environmental awareness.
  • The plant has developed an effective programme to manage the supply of spare parts for aging equipment, which take into consideration long-term operation and transition to decommissioning.
  • The plant is ensuring that new residents who move to areas near the plant are included in the distribution of iodine tablets.

The mission made a number of proposals to improve operational safety at the plant, including:

  • The plant should ensure that all deficiencies are identified and reported in a timely manner.
  • The plant should continue to pursue improvements in areas that directly impact plant operational safety.
  • The work control process should be improved to ensure timely repair of systems, structures and components.

The team provided a draft of the report to the plant's management. Management and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission will have an opportunity to make factual comments on the draft, which will be reviewed by the IAEA. The final report will be submitted to the Canadian Government within about three months.

Pickering nuclear power plant management expressed a determination to address all the areas identified for improvement and requested the IAEA to schedule a follow-up mission in approximately 18 months' time.

Brian McGee, Senior Vice President at the plant said the OSART review was useful.

"OPG is supportive of independent oversight and transparency and believe reports like this further strengthen the operational safety of the Pickering Nuclear Plant. We will use the findings to continue our drive for excellence," he said.

Background

General information about OSART missions can be found on the IAEA Website. An OSART mission is designed as a review of programmes and activities essential to operational safety. It is not a regulatory inspection, nor is it a design review or a substitute for an exhaustive assessment of the plant's overall safety status. This was the 189th mission of the OSART programme, which began in 1982.

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