Canadian watchdog raps nuclear regulator over power plant probes

Tue Oct 4, 2016 10:47am EDT
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By David Ljunggren

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada's nuclear regulator is so bad at paperwork that it cannot prove it is properly inspecting nuclear power stations and ensuring operators follow the rules, the country's official environmental watchdog said on Tuesday.

In an audit, Environment Commissioner Julie Gelfand also highlighted what she said were staff shortages at the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC).

The CNSC oversees Canada's 19 nuclear reactors, which generate about 17 percent of the nation's electricity.

Gelfand, who reports directly to Parliament, said the audit had uncovered many cases of inadequate or missing documentation.

"The CNSC could not show that site inspections were planned in a rigorous and systematic way to ensure they were sufficient - in both number and type - to verify that nuclear facilities were complying with all requirements," Gelfand said.

"The commission could also not show it had allocated enough staff to carry out inspections," she added in a statement.

The audit examined how the CNSC managed site inspections, not the overall safety of nuclear power plants in Canada.

While the CNSC did follow up on cases of non-compliance by power plant operators, and confirmed they were taking corrective action, it sometimes did so slowly, the audit found.   Continued...