With a lot of talk about nuclear energy being a part of Saskatchewan's energy future, one key concern that's risen among some is the safety of such a venture.
That was one of the topics presented at a Power Talks webinar put on by SaskPower which brought together energy experts from across Canada to answer common questions.
Sarah Eaton, the Director of the Advanced Reactor Licensing Division at the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, explained just how they approach keeping residents safe.
"So no one wants to imagine another nuclear incident, but it's our responsibility to plan for every possibility, no matter how unlikely. So while our regulatory requirements and our oversight activities are focused on preventing incidents and accidents, being prepared in the event of an emergency is a key and essential part of being a responsible nuclear regulator. Safety has and always will be our top priority."
Just as important is to keep people confident that they are safe, which is done by communicating what risks are prevalent.
"Another important part to talk about when you talk about accidents and incidents is the importance of risk communication. It's so important the way we talk about risk, both as the regulator, as proponents as yourself, like SaskPower and then the nuclear industry as a whole to ensure that the public, indigenous communities and nations, and stakeholders understand the risks from activities, understand what risks are possible, what risks are probable and those that are highly improbable and also trying to communicate about risk in a way that people can understand the nuclear sector today."
They're helped out by multiple international organizations, which help to create guidelines for nuclear safety.
"The one benefit about being a nuclear regulator is we have a lot of friends around the world who can help us and so our membership and international activities ensure that our regulatory approaches are consistent with those internationally agreed upon best principles and practices. So following Fukushima, the International Atomic Energy Association, which is the largest organization for nuclear activities, did a detailed review of the lessons learned and then directed member states including Canada to make changes."
That includes emergency exercises that go beyond what Eaton believes would be usual.
"We also participate in regular peer reviews from our International Atomic Agency colleagues who come and do inspections to ensure that our operations are operating safely and securely to ensure that our regulatory fundamentals are in place and that we are implementing our best practices. We also do a number of emergency exercises, including scenarios that would be very much improbable to help us build that knowledge experience and that operational experience to ensure that we are ready to respond to any nuclear accident or incident."