The Use of Risk Insights to Support Inspections for Nuclear Power Plants in Canada

Abstract of the technical paper/presentation presented at:
Women in Nuclear Global Conference
October 17-21, 2021

Prepared by: Tiffany Dunbar and Yolande Akl
Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission

Abstract:

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) is a modern nuclear regulator that uses a risk-informed and performance based approach when conducting regulatory activities. CNSC staff apply the concept of Risk-Informed Decision Making (RIDM), which means that risk insights can be used to complement existing safety analyses, regulations, requirements and operational considerations for compliance and licensing. Each operating nuclear power plant (NPP) is required to characterize and evaluate risks to ensure safe operation in order to protect the public and the environment. One way Canadian NPP licensees assess risks is by conducting probabilistic safety assessments (PSAs), which consider risks associated with postulated events that can arise within the plant or originate outside the plant, including earthquakes and external flooding. The PSAs demonstrate how each NPP could mitigate these postulated events. The PSA results are specific to each NPP and can be used by CNSC staff when conducting inspections. The risk and performance insights can be used to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of planning inspections and evaluating inspection findings. By using these insights, CNSC inspectors may prioritize areas with higher risk significance or potential performance issues when conducting inspections.

CNSC staff initiated a project called the Risk Handbook in order to summarize each NPP’s PSA risk insights and overall performance. The project had two main objectives, in support of CNSC inspectors: first, to provide introductory PSA training; and second, to develop a user-friendly, web-based tool to summarize the PSA risk insights and performance information.

This paper will define risk and explain how information from PSAs can be used to support the safe operation of NPPs. Discussions about the Risk Handbook’s structure and proposed regulatory applications will be provided. The lessons learned and the proposed path forward will also be discussed.

To obtain a copy of the abstract’s document, please contact us at cnsc.info.ccsn@cnsc-ccsn.gc.ca or call 613-995-5894 or 1-800-668-5284 (in Canada). When contacting us, please provide the title and date of the abstract.

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