Regulating Legacy Sites in Canada 2014 Ron Stenson, Senior Project Officer Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission Ron Stenson, Senior Project Officer Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission
For Canada, it all began at Port Radium in 1932.
Regulations and Requirements Nuclear Safety and Control Act Fisheries Act Canadian Environmental Protection Act The Canadian Environmental Assessment Act The Migratory Birds Act Canada Labour Code CCME Environmental Guidelines CSA Standards Territorial Lands Act Northwest Territories Waters Act Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act Ontario Mining Act Environmental Protection Act Environmental Assessment Act Clean water Act Crown Minerals Act Environmental Management and Protection Act Environmental Assessment Act Planning and Development Act Reclaimed Industrial Sites Act NSCA General Regulations NSCA Uranium Mines and Mills Regulations NSCA Class 1 Facilities Regulations NSCA Radiation Protection Regulations NSCA Nuclear Substances and Radiation Devices NSCA CNSC Cost Recovery Fees Regulations NSCA Administrative Monetary Penalties Regulations CNSC GOC International Agreements CNSC Regulations Guidance Documents ALARA Protection of the Environment Emergency Management Management of U Mine Waste Rock & Mill Tailings Assessing the Long-Term Safety of Radioactive Waste Management Managing Radioactive Wastes Public Information and Disclosure Licensee Public Information Programs Financial Guarantees for the Decommissioning of Licensed Activities. … The Canadian Legacy Uranium Mine Context
The Joint Review Group For instance in Elliot Lake, when the CNSC plans an inspection we invite: Ontario Ministry of Environment Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources Ontario Ministry of Northern Development and Mines Environment Canada Fisheries and Oceans Canada The local environmental citizens group The neighboring native band Given the large and diverse collection of laws which impact the management of Legacy Uranium Mine Sites, CNSC has adopted a Joint Review Group approach to regulating licensed sites.
The Joint Review Group (continued) Reviews of compliance documents for monitoring and maintenance activities are also coordinated through the JRG. When concerns arise they are discussed and resolved, never compromising safety, with the least burden on the licensee. When conflicts arise, the individual agency follows their procedures for compliance. If overlapping requirements conflict, The Nuclear Safety and Control Act takes precedent.
The Successful Application of “Operating” Site Legislation to Non-Operating Sites No matter what the situation there are always safety standards that must be met. The current CNSC motto is - “We will never compromise safety!”
The Successful Application of “Operating” Site Legislation to Non-Operating Sites (continued) In order to avoid triggering parts of legislation, more appropriate (non-operational) words are used. “Remediation” of “contaminated land”, rather than “decommissioning” of a “uranium mine”. “Management ” of site safety, rather than “construction” of a water control structure
The Successful Application of “Operating” Site Legislation to Non-Operating Sites (continued) The application of the CEAA had been a burden on many potential remediation projects. The CEAA was amended in 2012 to reduce the burden on proponents of certain types of projects. The Regulations Designating Physical Activities do not include Legacy sites and remediation does not trigger the CEAA.
The Successful Application of “Operating” Site Legislation to Non-Operating Sites (continued) For historic sites, including Legacy sites, our interpretation of what is ‘reasonable’ under ALARA can be different. Our current policy on requiring “best available technology” is not applied to historic sites. Our current policy on “continuous improvement” is interpreted more loosely for Historic sites.
The Successful Application of “Operating” Site Legislation to Non-Operating Sites (continued) For Legacy sites, our Cost Recovery Regulations were amended to recognize the burden on the tax payer as the remediator of last resort. We don’t regulate Legacy sites under the Uranium Mines and Mills Regulations, since in most cases it has been 50 years since they were mines. The current regulations are meant for life-cycle management of a site.
The Successful Application of “Operating” Site Legislation to Non-Operating Sites (continued) Financial Assurance requirements for Legacy sites are interpreted differently as well. Legacy site “owners” are required to list the sites as public liabilities in their budgets and planning process. One area that we require stricter interpretation of our guidance documents for Legacy sites is Public Information Programs. Given the nature of the risks undertaken at “intervention” / remediation sites it is important that the general public, local governance and local aboriginal people are kept informed of site activities.
The Successful Application of “Operating” Site Legislation to Non-Operating Sites (continued) The CNSC Wastes and Decommissioning Division is currently asking permission to draft waste management regulations. If we proceed many of the interpretations currently used will be codified as they relate to basic waste management standards and international practice.
The Practical Application of Legacy Site Requirements Interpretation Legacy uranium mine remediation projects in Canada have been, and are being, very successful. There is still a long way to go. In the absence of specific Legacy site legislation and the complex interaction between agencies and proponents Canada’s approach for the last 20 years is reminiscent of an old TV hero …
The Macgyver Principal The fictional television character MacGyver would often find himself in a difficult, often perilous, situation. With only his wits, a short piece of string and some chewing gum he would figure out how to accomplish amazing things. Welcome to legacy site regulation in Canada. Our short strings have been federal and provincial regulations written for operating sites. Our chewing gum has been the sincere desire of both the private and public sectors to do the right thing. And our wits have been the dedicated champions entrusted to protect people and the environment.
The Macgyver Principal (continued) Not all of us are clever as MacGyver, nor as desperate. But everyone in here has had to take those short pieces of string and a paper clip or duct tape and solve a problem. However, one of the results of being clever is that you now own the solution. You become a champion.
The problem with relying on champions The next time a decision has to be made, it may be a different champion interpreting the intent of the law. champions are not always consistent in their application of solutions. champions move on and take their enthusiasm and dedication with them
Lessons learned from the Canadian experience Record your interpretation of legislation as you go, in as many places as possible. Ensure reasonable consistency in your application of interpretations. Codify your interpretation as soon as you can Amend Acts and Regulations to include requirements specific to Legacy issues. Write guidance documents specific to Legacy site issues and policies
Lessons learned from the Canadian experience If you have a champion to promote your program, do not rely on that champion to implement your solutions. They will get eventually get fired, hired or retired. Don’t let it become “Ron’s Program”
Thank you all for contributing to this workshop.