CNSC Action on Nuclear Security Post 9/11


January 8, 2009

Prior to September 11th, nuclear facility security requirements in Canada were based on:

  • international recommendations, modified to account for the Canadian social, cultural, economic and political environment
  • the Nuclear Safety and Control Act and Nuclear Security Regulations which reflect the threat as assessed by Canadian Security officials

CNSC commissioned studies in late 1999, 2000, 2002 and 2003 on the security of nuclear facilities in Canada. The studies addressed potential internal and external threats to nuclear facilities as well as identifying areas vital to nuclear safety at CANDU reactors and nuclear research facilities.

Following the events of September 11, 2001:

  • Based on the findings of these studies, CNSC required enhanced nuclear security provisions at major nuclear facilities. CNSC also moved to a risk-based approach in assessing security at such facilities
  • CNSC has taken steps to update these studies to reflect the current threat risk to Canada
  • Major nuclear facilities were immediately instructed by CNSC to initiate enhanced security measures at their sites. These measures have been closely reviewed and audited by CNSC
  • Licensees were subsequently informed that enhanced security measures were to remain in place until further notice from CNSC. Enhanced measures are now being replaced with cost effective long term measures to ensure the health, safety and national security requirements are maintained
  • Potential threats have been constantly monitored in close collaboration with the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Canada, licensees, international agencies and other regulators, especially the Nuclear Regulatory Commission of the United States
  • The President of CNSC ordered a complete review of Canada’s Nuclear Security Regulations taking into account the findings and recommendations of recent studies. The review resulted in proposed amendments to the Nuclear Security Regulations that were released for public comment in October of 2003. The public comments resulted in further changes to the proposed amendments. As a result of these changes the proposed amendments were again prepublished in June 2005 for an additional comment period. CNSC anticipates that the amended Nuclear Security Regulations will come into effect in early 2006
  • On October 1, 2001, CNSC instructed major licensees (including some research facilities at universities and isotope processing labs) to report within two weeks on the current status of security measures, including voluntary measures. The provisions licensees have made are being assessed on a continuous basis. CNSC is taking an active role in conducting site audits and evaluations to ensure appropriate security measures are in place
  • As a result of this review, CNSC ordered immediate action on a number of measures to increase security at major nuclear facilities. On October 19, 2001, the President of CNSC met with senior executives of Ontario Power Generation, Bruce Power, Hydro Québec, New Brunswick Power and Atomic Energy of Canada Limited to inform the licensees of this order and its content. The following enhanced measures are now in place:
    • Immediate, on-site armed response available twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week
    • Enhanced security screening of employees and contractors involving background, police and security checks
    • Protection against forced vehicle penetration of the Protected Area with the addition of vehicle barriers
    • Improved physical identification checks of personnel utilizing card access and palm scanners
    • Searching of personnel and vehicles utilizing explosives detectors, X-ray screening and metal detection equipment

On November 16, 2001, CNSC completed a second phase of the Security Review. As a result of the analyses carried out, CNSC informed the licensees of a ‘second tier’ of nuclear facilities (e.g. uranium refineries, mills and fuel fabricators) of: a) the security measures to be enhanced at their facilities; and b) of the terms of a vulnerability assessment which they are to conduct. Some of the security enhancements were to take effect immediately, while others required gradual or longer term action.

CNSC will be amending the licenses of these ‘second tier’ facilities to capture the security enhancements on a more permanent basis.

The third phase of the security review is underway and will eventually cover all 4,500 licensees. For each class of licensee, the review:

  • examines the current state of security using a risk-based approach
  • assesses whether measures currently in place are adequate
  • provides recommendations, action notices or directives to upgrade the physical security when/if required for improvement
  • where required CNSC conducts a follow-up assessment

A significant number of the higher risk sites have now been inspected and where required additional physical protection measures have been put in place.

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