OTTAWA Oct 4 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.
Gelfand said documentation was so poor that the CNSC could
not prove its inspectors always followed correct procedures
during site visits or that their reports accurately reflected
what a plant inspection had found.
In the 2013-14 and 2014-15 fiscal years, the CNSC only
completed 76 percent of planned site inspections, in part
because it did not have the necessary staff.
Although senior management said there were enough
inspectors, officials on the ground at every plant told
Gelfand's team that "there were either not enough inspectors at
their sites or not enough at the levels needed."
In a written response to the criticism, the CNSC said its
nuclear oversight procedures were comprehensive, but agreed on
the need for better documentation.
(Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Paul Simao)