Monday 27 October 1997
Mr Bob Ferguson
Mr Bob Tulk
Atomic Energy Control Board
Mr Jim Harvie
Dr Barry Parsons
Mr Robert Leblanc
Mrs Audrey Nowack
Office of the fire marshal; Town of Pickering
Mr Jim Coulson
Mr Joshy Kallungal
Mr Rick Pearsall
Mr Tom Quinn
SELECT COMMITTEE ON ONTARIO HYDRO NUCLEAR AFFAIRS
Chair / Président
Mr Derwyn Shea (High Park-Swansea PC)
Vice-Chair / Vice-Président
Mr Monte Kwinter (Wilson Heights L)
Mr Sean Conway (Renfrew North / -Nord L)
Mrs Barbara Fisher (Bruce PC)
Mr Doug Galt (Northumberland PC)
Mrs Helen Johns (Huron PC)
Mr Monte Kwinter (Wilson Heights L)
Mr Floyd Laughren (Nickel Belt ND)
Mr John R. O'Toole (Durham East / -Est PC)
Mr Derwyn Shea (High Park-Swansea PC)
Clerk / Greffière
Ms Donna Bryce
Staff / Personnel
Mr Lewis Yeager, research officer, Legislative Research Service
Mr Richard Campbell, consultant
Mr Robert Power, legal counsel
SELECT COMMITTEE ON COMITÉ SPÉCIAL DES AFFAIRES
ONTARIO HYDRO NUCLEAR AFFAIRS NUCLÉAIRES D'ONTARIO HYDRO
Monday 27 October 1997 Lundi 27 octobre 1997
The committee met at 1703 in room 151, following a closed session.
The Chair (Mr Derwyn Shea): The committee will now meet in public. We have completed about three hours of confidential testimony that has ranged over a number of issues, including security. That will not be the subject of any public discussions. The committee will take that information unto itself for private consideration when it writes its report.
The Chair: We now begin with the open briefing sessions and our first session is with Ontario Hydro. We will deal with the fire and emergency response protocol. Mr Ferguson, welcome back to the committee. If you would be good enough for the purposes of Hansard to identify yourself and your colleague, then we are in your hands for your presentation.
Mr Robert Ferguson: My name is Robert Ferguson. I am the vice-president of technical support for Ontario Hydro Nuclear. On my right is Mr Bob Tulk. He is in charge of the fire protection program in my division for Ontario Hydro Nuclear.
I am pleased to be able to have this opportunity to brief you this evening. Just a housekeeping question: I have several copies of papers if you would like --
The Chair: I'll have them picked up now. We'll distribute them to members of the committee immediately.
Mr Ferguson: I don't know how many there are. I don't know if there are quite enough.
The Chair: Thank you.
Mr Ferguson: As they're passing these out, I'll continue on.
As you said earlier, fire protection and emergency preparedness are the subjects and I would like to begin first with the fire protection program, if that's satisfactory.
As background, on August 13 of this year the chief nuclear officer of Ontario Hydro, Carl Andognini, held a press conference to discuss the results of the IIPA report dealing with a broad range of issues affecting performance of the nuclear stations. One of the areas examined, and it was openly critical, was the state of the fire protection program. The report was released to the public at that time.
Also I'd like to comment on one item that seems to be in the news today: the so-called "volunteer firefighters." Our volunteers are being portrayed as being inadequate and not fire protection professionals and I somewhat take offence at that. It's important to recognize that our emergency response people are trained in firefighting, first aid, CPR, confined-space rescue and handling hazardous materials incidents. We also have a full-time professional emergency response person in the shift emergency response coordinator, what we call the SERC position. I will get into this a little more later.
We are in the process of defining and implementing programs to further enhance the overall level of fire protection at all our facilities and would like to take this opportunity to go through the program focusing on three areas: (1) the most significant findings in the IIPA report; (2) the immediate actions that we have taken and continue to take; (3) the actions that we will be taking in the future.
In regard to the IIPA report findings, the first and, in my opinion, the most important finding, which shouldn't be overlooked, is the conclusion by the team that the stations are being operated safely. With regard to fire, this conclusion is based on the manner in which Candu stations are designed and on the capabilities of station emergency response personnel.
The Candu design effectively employs what is known in the industry as a defence-in-depth approach, which provides protection by duplicating and separating nuclear systems. A typical Candu design has two separate shutdown systems and two heat removal provisions that are physically separate from one another. Duplicate support systems, such as power and service water, are similarly separated from one another. The ideal is to prevent an event, such as a fire, from simultaneously disabling both means of shutting down and cooling the reactor. Based on this design approach, the IIPA team of independent experts found, and I quote, that the "design was robust with respect to fire protection."
The review team also found that the firefighting strategy had been predicated on manual response to fires. Candu stations are designed with an open architecture -- meaning there are large spaces and they're not confined like they are in the United States where it's compartmentalized -- that facilitates maintenance and provides relatively easy access for the emergency response teams to extinguish a fire.
The volunteer emergency response teams, or ERTs for short, are composed of station personnel: typically, mechanical maintainers, control technicians and technical support staff. In addition to their regular duties, these individuals are trained to respond to a host of emergency situations, including fire, first aid, CPR, confined-space rescue and hazardous material incidents. The emergency response team training program is of a standard very similar to that received by municipal firefighters. In fact the municipal crews use our fire training facilities at both Wesleyville and Bruce.
We have mutual assistance agreements with municipal fire departments and, in the past, we have had reciprocal staff exchange programs with them. Several of our ERT members are also volunteer municipal firefighters, and it is noteworthy that our ERT and municipal crews typically have a high level of mutual trust which, given the potentially life-threatening nature of firefighting, speaks directly to the competence of our crews.
One of the unique features to our approach to fire protection is the full-time shift emergency response coordinator, as I mentioned earlier, the SERC. These individuals are the incident commanders -- in other words, the person in charge; if there is a fire, that's the person to get to and that's the person who takes charge and they are full-time in this job -- whenever the emergency response team is called to respond. The SERCs do a very good job of keeping us informed -- management, I mean -- on areas that need improvement and keep us moving forward to resolve fire issues.
The IIPA report was, however, critical of the lack of a clearly defined fire protection program. The report found that corporate and plant restructuring was required to provide fire program leadership and awareness of fire hazards. It found that a clearly defined OHN fire policy with supporting standards was needed to provide the required framework to address fire issues. It found that fire training programs need to be delivered to enhance employee fire awareness and develop professional fire personnel. It found that detailed nuclear safety fire assessments need to be performed to ensure and demonstrate adequate fire protection is provided, and that the amount of combustible material in the stations, for example, paper towels, filing cabinets, coat racks, wood palates, floor cleaning materials etc, needs to be managed and reduced.
While we presently have a minimally acceptable level of fire protection, we are taking action to address the IIPA findings to raise our level of performance.
Turning now to the immediate actions we have taken and continue to take to reduce the fire risk at our facilities, two initiatives are under way.
The first involves the removal of combustible material at each of the stations. The intent of this program is to remove combustible material that doesn't need to be there and to implement procedural controls to appropriately handle or minimize the amount of material being stored within the station. To date there has been a notable improvement in the level and treatment of combustible material in all stations, but we need to continue this effort.
The second initiative is a fire protection design improvement program which targets three high-risk areas at each of the stations: the main control room and the associated control equipment rooms, the cable spreading areas, and the turbine generators.
This program is well advanced. We will be tendering for design-and-build contracts for new or upgraded fire detection and suppression systems in each of these areas early next year. The cost of this program is estimated to be $25 million for all the stations.
In terms of the actions we will be taking in the future, we are currently planning to implement a fire safety improvement program that will be implemented over the next five years and will cost approximately $151 million; 75% of this program will be completed in the next three years. Such a program clearly indicates Ontario Hydro's resolve to improve fire safety at our nuclear facilities.
Currently we are engaged in discussions with the AECB concerning the program's scope and content which will contain seven basic elements.
The first two are the transient combustible and the design improvement programs I mentioned earlier.
The third is a program to develop an OHN fire policy with supporting standards. This program will run concurrently with the other initiatives and will result in a comprehensive fire policy by the end of the first quarter of next year. Supporting standards will be developed throughout the 1998 and 1999 calendar years in parallel with overall program needs.
The fourth initiative is to restructure the emergency response teams at each of the stations. We have determined that dedicated emergency response team crews are required to prevent station maintenance interruptions due to training and minimum shift complement requirements. Moving to these full-time ERT crews will create 80 full-time firefighter positions at each station. I think that's worth repeating. It will create 80 full-time firefighter positions at each station. ERT personnel will perform the routine maintenance on fire protection systems, as well as other non-critical duties. This approach focuses fire training and maintenance responsibility on one work group. We believe this approach will result in superior fire system maintenance and station ERT crews being equal to the best municipal fire department in the province. We will be selecting and training personnel for this program in 1998.
The fifth initiative is to develop fire training programs to heighten fire awareness of our staff and to develop professional fire expertise within the organization. One of the training programs presently being developed is fire awareness for our senior management. This education program relates actual fire experience at nuclear and industrial facilities to the management infrastructure breakdown that led to the fire. This training will begin in 1998.
The sixth program is to conduct area-by-area reviews of each station to identify and assess fire hazards. Currently we are discussing the scope and methodology for conducting this work with the AECB and these assessments will start in 1998.
The seventh initiative will be to address the results of the fire assessments.
We believe this seven-part program will move Ontario Hydro Nuclear to the forefront of fire protection. In particular, the ERT restructuring program will result in superior fire system maintenance and station ERT crews being equal to the best municipal fire department in the province.
Now I would like to entertain questions.
The Chair: Mr Ferguson, we appreciate that very much. As you know, we will proceed in rotation by caucus asking questions. We will begin the first round with the government caucus and we will begin with Dr Galt.
Mr Doug Galt (Northumberland): I was interested in some of the contracts you were talking about. One is at $25 million and one at $151 million. Do you plan to outsource that or will you be looking at doing that in-house?
Mr Ferguson: It's a combination. It really will be. We have a lot of people internally, and where we have the talent internal, we will do it internally.
Mr Galt: What percentage are we talking about?
Mr Ferguson: For example, like the $151 million, a lot of it is hardware and this sort of thing. All that money is not just labour. Therefore, obviously we will be buying the hardware from wherever after we design it, get it specified out and we will be outsourcing some and doing some within. I can't say much else other than that. The work we do not have the expertise to do in-house, we will indeed be bidding that work and outsourcing.
Mr Galt: I'm just concerned about how Hydro has evolved in the past. There's been so much in-house. I was noticing some other operations in other provinces where they've outsourced and they now have a very viable industry going worldwide building hydro plants and we still have Ontario Hydro and really didn't get anything more than, I might sarcastically say, a great big debt where we are today.
Mr Ferguson: That's a worthwhile comment.
Mr Galt: Yes. I'm really concerned that we are not outsourcing enough and are trying to do too much in-house is where I was coming from.
My second question relates to the 80 full-time firefighters you would have at each station, I think is what you said in your presentation.
Mr Ferguson: Correct.
Mr Galt: When you say "each station," is that like the five stations?
Mr Ferguson: No. It's like the three stations; actually the four. I don't know how we're going to do it at Bruce A because they're going to lay up Bruce A and naturally you wouldn't need quite the fire complement at A until you brought it back.
Mr Galt: Right.
Mr Ferguson: For example, for Pickering, all of Pickering A and B would just be the 80. Darlington would have 80. So when we say station, that doesn't mean Pickering A and Pickering B each get 80. It would be 80 because that's all one unit, as you're well aware; in other words, one facility, if you will. Then there would be 80 for the Darlington facility. Then on the Bruce, I don't know, Bob, if that's been resolved.
Mr Bob Tulk: We're looking at 80 people at Bruce B and we're looking at probably a combination of 80 at Bruce services -- the plant area, the general area, the support infrastructure around the Bruce site, as well as Bruce A. We still have assets there that we want to protect, so we would want to have a fire crew available.
Mr Galt: How many are there now?
Mr Tulk: We have volunteer teams. The team minimum complement is 12. We typically try to schedule 16 to allow for vacations, holidays, training, that sort of thing.
Mr Galt: Being classified as full-time firefighters -- we hope there are not that many fires there -- are there other activities you can effectively and efficiently use these people at other than sitting in the fire station waiting for a fire?
Mr Ferguson: The answer is yes to that. We're also hoping we're not going to have full-time for them, but they have to be trained and they have to be ready.
Mr Galt: That's their first job.
Mr Ferguson: That's number one. That's their first job. Then they will do maintenance, for example, on the fire equipment itself, plus the fire equipment in the stations; in other words, things like where you have sprinkler systems, fire hoses and any other devices you need to fight the fire with. They will maintain those. If that isn't enough to keep them totally busy, then we will put them on some other work, but it will not be that kind of work they can't just drop right in a minute in case there's a fire or something else. In other words, we wouldn't want to put them in all dressed up in a particular radiation suit or something like that and be locked back in here in a place they couldn't get out of easily. So that's the kind of work, but the answer is yes, we will be having other work for them to do.
Mr John O'Toole (Durham East): I'm very concerned about this, just in response to the program on the CBC and the fact that I live in the Darlington and Pickering area in Durham region. I want you to comment quickly. How accurate was that portrayal on the CBC in terms of the risk to the community, in terms of the casualness in the approach to fires, some 30 events? Could you comment? Were those events significant? Was it a paper towel or was it a major piece of construction material? What actually happened?
Mr Ferguson: I can comment some on those events. There were really 34 fire reports. Out of those 34 fire reports, 12 of them were due to alarm malfunctions. In other words, when the alarm itself fails, it fails safe, if you will, so 12 of them were non-fires but the alarm failed. Three others were false alarms due to grinding dust and that sort of thing. Out of the 34, 15 of them were non-fires entirely.
Eight were overheated equipment like bearings. On a piece of equipment, for example, a bearing would start smoking. In fact there was one today at Pickering, on exactly that, and indeed the fire department was called. Our sensitivity has been increased over the last year or two years as to making more calls and trying to be superconservative.
The other 11 were flame, sparks, smouldering cigarettes etc.
In the AECB report, it said two events out of the 11 occurred in the main control rooms. For example, on April 2, 1996, smouldering cigarette butts were dumped into a garbage can that contained paper located in a designated smoking area. In other words, it was in the control room but there was a designated smoking area. They had some smouldering cigarette butts and they dumped them into a garbage can containing paper. That's not what a person wants to do.
Mr O'Toole: I wonder, for the sake of time -- I have two or three questions -- if you could leave a copy of that summary with the committee. I would appreciate it as a reference.
Mr Ferguson: Sure. Of course.
Mr O'Toole: The other part of it is, I'm surprised you wouldn't have a non-smoking policy in the area to begin with, but that's for you to decide. You can put all the fire detectors up you want, but you should take the pre-eminence of watching fire hazards at that level.
Are there sprinkler systems? The report led me to believe there wasn't a wide distribution of sprinkler or halon systems in the facility because of the foolproof nature of the construction, the concrete etc. Can you comment? Is there wide use of sprinklers or halon systems?
Mr Ferguson: Sprinkler systems are used in several places, but in some places they aren't. For example, one of the areas that is talked about is the cable spreading rooms. That concerns us and it concerns us tremendously. Part of that $151 million, for example, is to put spray systems in our cable spreading rooms. So indeed part of that report --
Mr O'Toole: The recovery plan, the $151 million, is addressing --
Mr Ferguson: The recovery plan is addressing all of those items in that report.
Mr O'Toole: I have one more question, if I may be indulged. I want you to comment on two things.
One is the 80. I get the impression from listening, without being critical, as a taxpayer, as a very normal citizen who doesn't know the high technology of this area, that we're throwing money and people at a problem. I think that is a perceived way Hydro deals with everything: throw the bucks at it. They did it at Darlington and now we're all paying for it. I want you to comment on that.
The other one is, I sat on local council when Ontario Hydro worked out a deal with the Darlington station to build a full station. They built it and manned it, and they're paying the firemen there for the next two or three years as part of this transitional agreement. There's another example of misuse of taxpayers' money, in my view. I'm not criticizing you. I'm pleased you've been very forthright. Could you comment on that? That agreement, to me, flies in the face of -- here's another plan and I'm not convinced. I have no expertise, I might add, but I'm not comfortable. That's why we're here. I'm not being unkind to you.
There are two things I'm asking here: the response agreement with the municipality, the status there, and what are the 80 people? Are they going to solve the problem or are we just going to have more people in a large, overstaffed situation?
Mr Ferguson: Let's start with the 80 people. As far as the 80 people are concerned, that's not just the only thing going to be done, as I think we talked about. We're looking at the complete report and we're systematically looking at the whole thing. The 80 people are just part of the fix. If you're just going to put out 80 people there and not do anything else and say, "This is going to solve our problem," because it sounds good in the papers or something, that would be the totally wrong way to go, and it's not the way we're doing it.
These are big plants and we need to allow for things like sickness and training. You have to have these people up to speed and well-trained, and in order to do that, you don't just have 80 people sitting right there at the ready all the time, you really don't. It's a total of 80 people. That accounts for vacations etc. Therefore, what you actually have on shift, 24 hours a day --
Mr O'Toole: Twenty.
Mr Ferguson: Well, more like 20.
Mr O'Toole: It's three shifts.
Mr Tulk: Sixteen is what we're planning and then only 12.
Mr Ferguson: Okay, 16 to 20, but they're full-time. When you break it down like that, it begins to look more realistic.
As far as the municipal agreement is concerned, I can't address that. I don't know about it, especially about the Darlington agreement. I'm sorry, I'll have to get back to you on that. I literally don't know about that agreement. I know that in the United States, for example, there are agreements with municipalities, all of them near nuclear facilities, to keep them up and properly trained, because they have to be trained in some special things as far as the nuclear plant is concerned that they aren't going to get just within their own municipality. So that does take extra money and extra time.
Mr Sean G. Conway (Renfrew North): Mr Ferguson, you are now the vice-president of technical support at Ontario Hydro. You've held that position for what, six months?
Mr Ferguson: I've been a vice-president at Ontario Hydro. That particular position I've held for about four months.
Mr Conway: Your background prior to coming to Ontario was in the United States?
Mr Ferguson: Correct.
Mr Conway: Could you give us just a brief overview of your experience in the United States, particularly with nuclear power programs?
Mr Ferguson: I began in 1959 as a mechanical engineer. I started in a reactor operation and I was the reactor operator for about two or three years. Then I went into engineering project management. We started a company, an architect engineering firm, and did consulting with commercial utilities in the United States and around the world.
Mr Conway: So you had in that experience an opportunity to be involved with and to assess to some extent the nuclear power operations of a number of utilities in the United States and elsewhere which had nuclear power capacity, correct?
Mr Ferguson: Yes, sir.
Mr Conway: I ask that just as way of background because what I want you to tell the committee, certainly to tell me, is how would you compare the attitudes at Ontario Hydro Nuclear with respect to fire safety prior to the measures you've announced? How does the situation that the IIPA found and reported on in August 1997 compare with similar situations in, say, the United States?
Mr Ferguson: The situation we found was one of what we termed a lack of urgency, a lack of concern, that the risk was so low that it was not too immediate a problem.
Mr Conway: Was that attitude that you found in Ontario Hydro -- lack of concern, low risk, not likely going to be a problem, can't happen here -- qualitatively different at Ontario Hydro than, say, your experience in the United States with utilities operating nuclear power reactors?
Mr Ferguson: Yes, sir.
Mr Conway: Just as a matter of interest, why do you think Ontario Hydro's attitude was qualitatively different in that respect?
Mr Ferguson: I don't know the answer to that, but I attribute it to a management attitude. I know this, that we found a lot of people at what we call the SERC level and the firefighter level who had been trying for years to get this raised in the consciousness and it wasn't happening.
Mr Conway: How did American managers manage to get better performance, better attitudes and better results, to the best of your knowledge, on this fire protection issue?
Mr Ferguson: Management attention.
Mr Conway: What does that mean?
Mr Ferguson: It means putting down your plans, identifying your risk and making it happen. I realize that with the Candu design there is a difference in design basis, and there truly is a different design basis. That isn't just a lot of hand-waving. However, there is a need to have properly trained people and there is a need to respond when there's a fire. I don't care whether you have 12 fires or 34 fires and I don't care whether they're little or whether they're large, that's unacceptable. Little fires can become big fires. That kind of attitude that allows that to happen is not acceptable from a management standpoint.
Mr Conway: What did American managers typically employ as methodology to ensure that at the front line there was a better attitude and better performance and better results?
Mr Ferguson: Better management support and better training.
Mr Conway: You see, one of the difficulties -- I'm following up here with Mr O'Toole, who, as is his wont, made the point very well. Ontario Hydro has had all kinds of good plans over a long period of time, and like Mr O'Toole I'm impressed with your plan. You appear to have, in the best Ontario Hydro tradition, a good plan, a clear plan. You're going to spend some money, by my reckoning $176 million: $25 million for upgraded fire protection and suppression systems, and that will give comfort to people who watched Brian Stewart on national television the other night express some real concerns about that, and then $151 million will be spent over a three-year period or a five-year period to implement a fire safety improvement program. That's good and that's comforting.
The only difficulty is that a lot of this committee now comes from Missouri, because Ontario Hydro has had these plans before.
Mr Ferguson: I understand.
Mr Conway: We are very hopeful that under the capable new leadership, much of which appears to come from Missouri, there will be better results. I say that half facetiously but half truthfully, because the problem has been -- and I think the average citizen, if he or she were sitting in this room, would say, "Another good plan." What are you going to do specifically, given the management culture problem that has been talked about by everyone from yourself to the sainted Bill Farlinger to the impressive Carl Andognini to Dr Bishop? What are you going to do to ensure that your plan doesn't come a cropper, that after you spend $176 million and you hire all these new people, we're not going to be treated to a spectacle that somebody's going to come in here from Scottish electric in seven years' time and say, "Ferguson had good intentions but didn't take root"?
Mr Ferguson: A couple of things. I want to clarify that of that $151 million, that $25 million is included in that. That's just a clarification.
What are we going to do? Number one, Ontario Hydro Nuclear fire protection program management is my accountability, me personally. Okay? I'm building a staff and we are preparing the plans. We haven't got them all prepared yet and I appreciate the comment about, "One more flavour of the week, one more plan." You have to have a plan, though, and then you've got to work the plan. We're going to stay here to indeed make sure the plan works. We're not just another consultant flying in here, preparing a plan and then flying out and dumping it on somebody's desk. We're here to make it work. That's all I can do, is to give you my word that's what I'm going to do. I can't look into the future.
Mr Conway: No, and I appreciate that. You've been very candid on that. Mr Ferguson, can you tell me how many new people in the fire protection program development and implementation you expect you're going to require to successfully implement the plan?
Mr Ferguson: At the corporate level, we're not talking a lot of people to implement the plan because we're not going to be implementing it; we're going to be doing the policies and the procedures and then we're going to put it out, and then we're going to get it driven down through the stations and then we're going to monitor them and make sure they're really implementing those plans.
Mr Conway: At the corporate level, how many people are you going to --
Mr Ferguson: At the corporate level, I'm looking at six or seven people at the most.
Mr Conway: Where are you going to get those six or seven people?
Mr Ferguson: Right now I have one. I have another one who is in one of my other organizations who is being brought in. We will advertise and we'll supplement with consultants, where we have to, until we get those kinds of people we need to staff the program.
Mr Conway: And you're willing to cast your net internationally to find the right people?
Mr Ferguson: Internationally, true, but I'm going to try first to get them in Canada, if at all possible, and I think that is possible.
Mr Conway: Your associate -- I'm sorry, I was out when we began -- his background?
Mr Tulk: I am a mechanical engineer in the province of Ontario. I've spent the last 16 years working for Ontario Hydro, predominantly in the nuclear safety area. Most of my work has been on the Darlington station, but in the last four years I've been working on several projects across all of OHN.
Mr Conway: You're just the man I need to talk to then. Given what Mr Ferguson has so eloquently indicated as to past problems and future intentions, what do you, sir, see as the key to changing the attitudes and the performance of home-grown talent at these sites -- Bruce, Pickering and Darlington -- to improve their past practices which, I'll tell you, have been presented to the public -- I know people don't like to hear these words, but if I heard the name Homer Simpson once on or after August 13, I heard it several times. It may be unfair, it may be unkind, but it was almost understandable, given some of what was presented on the 13th. How are we going to change those attitudes, to the extent they have to be changed, with the home-grown talent?
Mr Tulk: I think the key to it is that you have to have a fire awareness within senior management and I think that's coming rather quickly. The education program -- Mr Ferguson referred to the management education program; I forget which bullet it was in the handout -- specifically addresses that point. What we're doing is looking at past fire events in nuclear facilities worldwide and industrial experience worldwide and are putting together a training program that ties the root cause of those fires back to the management failure.
Mr Conway: If I'm a Hydro staff person, say, out at Bruce or Pickering or Darlington, how do I know, working on the line, that things are changing? You indicated it was changing quickly. How would I know that if I'm a front-line Hydro employee at one of those stations?
Mr Ferguson: One way you might notice that is where that responsibility now resides in the organization at the Bruce plant. That particular organization reports right on up now to the top of the house, where it was kind of buried down in the organization before. That's one real key one.
Mr Floyd Laughren (Nickel Belt): Mr Ferguson, welcome to the committee. On page 10 of your submission you talk about spending $151 million in five years: "Such a program clearly indicates Ontario Hydro's resolve to improve fire safety at our nuclear facilities." It's also, it seems to me, an indication that there's a lot of improvement needed or you wouldn't be spending --
Mr Ferguson: True statement.
Mr Laughren: Those are big bucks. I have trouble, as a layperson out there, understanding this fire issue. I don't understand whether it's simply the same kind of problem that a fire at a department store might cause, or in the Legislature itself or in a house or a factory, or whether it goes beyond that and gets into the whole nuclear area, the dangers of nuclear power. Could you help me on that because I really don't have a good picture.
Mr Ferguson: I'll try to do that. Number one, a lot of it is the same as in your house or in a department store. You've got so many rags or you've got so much garbage, boxes, whatever, stacked up over in a corner. That's not good fire practice. So a lot of it is exactly that.
The other part that comes into running a nuclear power station is that we have a lot of cables and a lot of those are control cables. In some cases, they're running right close together or in the same general area. You don't want a fire there because some of those control cables might be allowing you to turn on a pump to keep the water circulating in case the reactor was shut down and you need to cool it off. So those kinds of things are more related to, if you will, a high-tech industry, not necessarily nuclear per se, but it is the instrumentation and the cables.
Mr Laughren: I don't want to engage in any fearmongering here, but what would be the ultimate result of a fire? For example, that CBC program to which a number of people have made reference talked about, "It's a matter of time." I think it was an expert, believe it or not, from, not Missouri but --
Mr Conway: Minnesota.
Mr Laughren: -- Minnesota.
Mr Conway: Gerald Brown.
Mr Laughren: As long as he's not from Utah, I can live with it. This fellow said it's a matter of time till they have a fire they can't put out. What went through my mind was Three Mile Island or whatever; Chernobyl, I suppose. To what extent is that a potential danger, not exactly the same? I appreciate the technology is different.
Mr Ferguson: I understand. I think one of the keys to listening to that particular comment is if they continue down this path, which is where that report stated -- that report was put out in June, issued in June. Had we continued down that path the way that was going, indeed in my opinion he was 100% correct, we would have that big fire. We're not going down that same path. That's number one. We really aren't. We're moving the fire loadings out. We're not just making plans, we're presently doing things. We've done a bunch of measures already. We put in fire watches. For example, if there's a person welding in a certain area we put a fire watch over here, a person who is trained in handling fire extinguishers etc to make darn sure there aren't any fires going from those sparks or whatever. We're putting in compensatory measures. If we weren't going to do that, it would be different.
Mr Laughren: Would there be a nuclear danger?
Mr Ferguson: The primary nuclear danger, which is quite honestly somewhat different here than it would be in the States with the type of reactor, would be if you caused the fuel in the reactor to not be properly cooled, and it would split open and the fission products got into the air. That would be the primary danger, no question about it.
Mr Laughren: The reason I'm pursuing this question is that I always thought AECB's responsibility was to make sure, on that side of it -- not so much somebody falling and breaking a leg or even getting burned -- that it was under their purview, the whole issue of nuclear. I don't think this latest push came from the AECB. It came from the IIPA, did it not?
Mr Ferguson: That's correct. Although, having said that, they had comments over the years in the fire protection area that hadn't been properly implemented, in my opinion. We made the largest push; yes, this is true, and the most concerted push.
Mr Laughren: Were you part of the Andognini team?
Mr Ferguson: Yes.
Mr Laughren: You came with him?
Mr Ferguson: Yes, I did.
Mr Laughren: I do find it passing strange that it was you folks who blew the whistle, if I could use that expression, on the fire problem and not the AECB. That I really do find strange.
Mr Ferguson: That's part of the whole IIPA. We were brought in to look at the whole program, all of the nuclear program, not just the fire protection part.
Mr Laughren: Right, I understand.
Mr Ferguson: This was just one of the many aspects of the whole nuclear program. If you want to call it "blow the whistle," we were brought in for that purpose, to evaluate the program and to make recommendations on how to make it better. That's the first part. The IIPA primarily identified the problems and then the rest of it is the get well program, if you will, or the improvement program that's coming down now to take care of those problems.
Mr Laughren: At the end of the day, when you've spent this $151 million, you will have improved the situation at Ontario Hydro Nuclear beyond that which is required by AECB. Is that correct?
Mr Ferguson: Yes, sir.
Mr Laughren: Would the AECB requirements today in Ontario, or Canada, be acceptable in the United States?
Mr Ferguson: That's a hard -- I'd like to just say yes or no. With the design they're dealing with here, it's a completely different situation. They've got different laws to begin with. What is acceptable? Usually the law defines what is acceptable and what isn't. In Canada the law is not the same as it is in the United States. If they were to go there and say, "Is this program acceptable?" within the laws of the United States, the answer would be no; within the laws of Canada, yes, it is. That doesn't mean, just because it's within the law, that it's better or it's worse. It is minimally acceptable here. My problem is we don't want to run just minimally acceptable.
Mr Laughren: I appreciate that. The full-time people, I think you said 80 at each of the stations, so it's 240 positions, am I right?
Mr Ferguson: Approximately, yes.
Mr Laughren: Approximately, at Pickering, Bruce and Darlington. These are full-time positions. I have trouble in my mind, and I appreciate there are three shifts --
Mr Ferguson: Five.
Mr Tulk: Five shifts; 15 times five for a total of 80.
Mr Laughren: Okay, I missed that. I heard some reference to -- I had trouble in my mind, despite the fact that you had these fires, picturing these people, full-time, being able to occupy their time.
Mr Ferguson: Everybody has that problem with every fire department all over the United States, and all over the world in fact.
Mr Laughren: But they have to be there and they have to be trained.
Mr Ferguson: Same problem; that's right.
The Chair: I'm going to cut us down to two minutes each because we've got to make one more round.
Mrs Barbara Fisher (Bruce): I will pre-empt it by saying that while you're placing your ads for your firefighters, I would hopefully like to think that you're at least doing that through the Ontario firefighters association as well. There are many well-trained people there who may have an interest in coming to the rescue of doing something. They're made-in-Ontario people. That's not meant to be a slam; it's just meant to be a compliment in terms of making sure we do it.
I want to dwell just for a minute on two things, very quickly. It's been reported that there's, let's call it, a less than palatable relationship between the Ministry of the Solicitor General and the people from Ontario Hydro who are trying to develop nuclear preparedness plans, which include fire and safety. Certainly in the place I live, that's been the case. I know from reading from Pickering that the fire chief of the Pickering community has had less than favourable comments with regard to its working relationship with Ontario Hydro.
There must be some responsibility in the end for all those bodies -- the Solicitor General who oversees Ontario Hydro, and the local communities -- to do a better job. Can you tell me where in the plan that's been presented so far that's been addressed and how that recovery is going to happen?
Mr Ferguson: A couple of things. One is we'll address that in more detail when we get into the emergency preparedness area, okay? Yes, when the fellow behind me, Art Young, first took over, we hadn't even finished the IIPA. He decided right away that the emergency preparedness area needed some real attention. It was given that. One of the things we found was that the relationship with government bodies, and especially at the high level more so than down at the lower working level, was bad; it was broken, no question about it.
I think, personally, from what I've seen in the last month and a half and two months, that has really turned around. On that information you're talking about, I would ask you to go back and check your sources at the latest date now and ask again. Is it perfect? No, it's not perfect. But are we working it? Yes, we are.
Mrs Fisher: I think it's got to be open.
Mr Conway: I'm satisfied as much as I think I can be today that I've asked all my questions.
Mr Laughren: Very briefly, one thing that seemed to come through when we had the British in here who had privatized their nuclear industry was how they had brought along the employees of those nuclear installations there. As a matter of fact, they were shareholders of the whole operation. I was a little concerned when you were talking a couple of minutes ago about your commitment to making this work, your use of the words: "my responsibility," and, "I am here," and, "I am not going to leave with my briefcase because I'm a consultant."
Mr Ferguson: Good point.
Mr Laughren: If the culture's going to change at Hydro --
Mr Ferguson: Your point is extremely well taken. It's just that I feel personal responsibility to make it work, okay? There's not a way in the world I can make this work; it is a team effort. It means the employees, and not just the seven of us who came from the States either, all the Ontario Hydro people. It's going to take us all to make it work. I think we're making a lot of headway at the stations and the relationships between corporate and the stations. Your point is very well taken and shouldn't be misunderstood.
The Chair: Thank you very much for appearing before the committee. We appreciate both your testimony in camera and in the open session. If there are any further questions, I hope you'll be prepared to respond either in writing or come back and attend upon this committee.
Mr Ferguson: Very much so.
The Chair: You are excused; we appreciate that. It being almost 1800 hours, we will adjourn for one hour.
Mr Conway: The BBC World News.
The Chair: Mr Conway wants to watch the news. He will bring back a written report for the committee.
Mr Conway: You might want to check with your portfolio manager.
The Chair: I will do that as well. We will adjourn. We will return at 7 o'clock where we'll pick up with our deputations again continuing. It will be at 7 o'clock: a briefing, the Atomic Energy Control Board, fire and emergency response; and at 8 pm, the Ontario fire marshal's representative and the Pickering fire chief. We have these items. That will conclude the affairs of the day in terms of fire and emergency response and security. The committee will stand adjourned until 7 o'clock.
The committee recessed from 1753 to 1902.
ATOMIC ENERGY CONTROL BOARD
The Chair: The committee will resume business, and for the next hour we will have a briefing by the Atomic Energy Control Board on the inspection process of the nuclear facilities.
Mr Laughren: On a point of order if I might, Mr Chair: I seek your guidance in this regard. I wrote a letter to Ontario Hydro after a morning in here during which the government members would not support writing a letter to the minister on seeking tabling of the white paper, which I think has become almost laughable, quite frankly, that we're operating in this vacuum, but so be it. That's the way the government members want it.
Mr Conway: Oh, there are developments.
Mr Laughren: I wrote a letter to the chair of Ontario Hydro asking for more information on a number of matters, because I didn't want to bring it back to the committee, knowing the response I'd get from the government members. I gave the Chair of the committee a copy of that letter. I received a response today from the chair of Ontario Hydro, indicating that he received my letter and would in due course respond to my letter, but of course the queries from the committee as a whole had to be responded to first. I don't know what those queries are, and I'd appreciate knowing that.
Secondly, if we're going to get into having the committee write letters to Hydro asking for information and separating that out from members of the committee who want to write letters, then I don't know how this committee is going to work, so I would seek your guidance in that regard.
I would have much preferred to have the committee endorse the letter that I wrote, but it seemed to me at the time that I probably would not get the support from the committee, so I'm seeking your guidance on how we can say to Hydro, "Look, when a member of this committee writes to you for information, we don't expect him or her to get the back of your hand," that it's all legitimate seeking of information, not frivolous requests. I ask that you take that under advisement at least. I'm not asking for a ruling as we sit here -- I think that would be unfair -- but I simply ask that you ponder on that.
The Chair: I will give that some consideration. While the Chair has no control over the response that we get from anyone, either formally or informally, I know that you did in fact write the letter, you did indeed circulate the letter -- at least I made sure that letter was circulated to all members of the committee so we had a chance to see it. Let me reflect upon that, Mr Laughren. Your concern has been noted in Hansard and brought to my attention.
Mr Conway: I don't know that I ever heard one member request another to ponder in my time here.
The Chair: Mr Laughren and I used old-fashioned but very important language, Mr Conway --
Mr Conway: I'm impressed.
The Chair: -- and we understand each other, so I will indeed ponder.
Mr Harvie, welcome back to the committee for open session. I will begin once again to indicate that you're here talking about the inspection process and also will be referring to fire and emergency response and a number of other issues that will be brought forward during your presentation to the committee. We're in your hands.
Mr Jim Harvie: Thank you, Mr Chairman. I'll reintroduce Robert Leblanc, the director of the power reactor division A at the Atomic Energy Control Board; Dr Barry Parsons, our senior project officer at the Pickering site; and Mrs Audrey Nowack, one of our legal counsel.
We have three brief presentations, one on inspection and licensing of the reactors, a briefing on that subject; one on fire protection and our views on that; and one on emergency preparedness. Depending on the Chairman's wishes, we can give all three presentations and then have questions or we could have presentations and then questions after each one.
Dr Parsons is going to give the first presentation on licensing and operation and inspection of nuclear power stations.
The Chair: Can I just point out to members of the committee that we are having copies of the slides presented for members of the committee. If you haven't got them now, they'll be here shortly.
Dr Barry Parsons: In the following presentation, I will first describe the AECB licensing process for a nuclear facility. After this, I will describe the main elements of our compliance inspection program for nuclear facilities.
The licensing process is the means by which the AECB gains assurance that a nuclear facility will be sited, designed, constructed, commissioned, operated and decommissioned in compliance with established safety standards and regulations.
Very early in the project, AECB staff receive a letter of intention and are closely involved in the site selection stages. Safety evaluations for each of the licensing stages are submitted by the applicant and reviewed by our staff. AECB staff maintains close surveillance over safety-related activities in each phase of the project. There are requirements on the applicant to carry out public information programs which are closely monitored by us and other agencies. In addition, it is expected that other federal, provincial and municipal legislative requirements be fulfilled; for example, environmental and emergency response. Throughout the whole process, there is a continuous review, evaluation and monitoring of analysis, operations etc by AECB staff.
I will focus my presentation tonight on the operating licence renewal process only. A nuclear facility licence is issued for a finite period, usually two years. Shorter-term licences, as short as six months, have been issued by the AECB for facilities where improvement in their operations is required. The renewal process is similar to the initial licensing, but AECB staff review concentrates on operation and design experience during the previous period.
As part of AECB staff continuous surveillance, an annual report on station operation is presented to the board. Staff reviews and recommendations for relicensing are presented to the board as licensing board member documents, called BMDs. These BMDs are public documents. Licensing recommendations usually involve many AECB departments.
Page 4 of the handout shows a simplified sequence of events for operating licence renewal. Starting from the bottom left with a licensee application, this is sent to the AECB senior project officer at the respective site. The application is reviewed by AECB staff, along with input from specialist AECB staff located at our head office in Ottawa. Where required, input from external agencies is obtained. The review determines whether all the licensing prerequisites have been satisfied.
Once the review is completed, a board member document is prepared, which is reviewed by senior AECB management. Once approved by senior management, the board member document is submitted to the board. The process involves two board meetings, the first one being submitted for information. At the second board meeting, the board member document is submitted for a decision. The use of two board meetings allows time for public input.
We have AECB staff located full-time at each reactor site. The number of staff typically equals the number of reactors plus a senior project office. For example, at the Pickering site office, where there are eight reactors, we have eight project officers plus a senior project officer, along with two administrative support staff.
The normal duties of the site staff are to perform inspections, which I will discuss in detail later, to review, monitor and assess the operation to verify that the station is operated as defined in the safety report and to verify compliance to the licence and the licence conditions. Project officers have free access to all parts of the nuclear station and to all staff, as well as to all drawings and reports produced by the licensee.
We have about 320 AECB staff located at our head office in Ottawa. Approximately half the staff work in areas related to power reactors. Their duties include certifying licensee staff who operate the reactors, review of licensee training programs, review of significant events that happen at the stations, review of the safety analysis and changes to the safety analysis, review of engineering reliability and risk, review of licensee quality assurance programs, review of safety of the pressure boundary of reactor components and the review of licensee radiation protection programs.
Along with our Ottawa staff, we carry out compliance inspection activities to verify that reactor operation is in compliance with the facility operating licence, including the Atomic Energy Control Act and regulations and any other applicable federal and provincial legislation.
Types of compliance inspections include: routine field inspections. These are informal area inspections of equipment and area conditions. System inspections: These confirm the system will meet its design intent as originally licensed. Operating practice assessment: This is an activity review, such as a reactor startup or maintenance work. Quality assurance audits: These are formal audits of elements of the licensee-managed programs, such as configuration control, operator duties and maintenance. Health physics appraisals: These are formal assessments of the licensee radiation protection program. Emergency preparedness assessments: These are formal assessments of the licensee capability to respond to station emergencies. Physical security inspections: Formal inspection of the physical security measures at the station to protect it from unwanted acts and intrusions. Non-routine field inspections: These are reactive-type inspections to follow up on a station event or equipment failure.
In December 1996, the board approved a short-term licence for Pickering nuclear generation division. In recommending the short-term licence, AECB staff viewed the Pickering operation as only marginally acceptable. Over 1995 and 1996, a deterioration in safety performance at Pickering was observed, as evidenced by a number of events at the station which had operational safety significance. AECB staff believed that if the deterioration continued, it would eventually result in unsafe operation.
The AECB staff review of operation for the year 1996 concluded: "Although the risk to the workers and the public is low, major safety-related changes at Pickering are necessary," and that "the sustainability of the changes need to be demonstrated." AECB staff recognized that efforts by Ontario Hydro to improve safety performance were being initiated, but AECB staff concluded that it was too early to judge effectiveness of the actions and believed an evaluation period was required by AECB staff.
As a result, an enhanced assessment of Pickering over the period December 1996 to March 1997 was performed. This involved more than 40 AECB staff, with a total of three person-years' effort. The results of the Pickering enhanced assessment formed the basis for AECB staff's recommendation for licence renewal in June 1997. The Pickering enhanced assessment is a public document. If the committee wishes, I can briefly present the results of this assessment.
The Chair: Very briefly.
Dr Parsons: The assessment looked at eight different areas of reactor operation. They include significant event report follow-up, maintenance programs, procedural compliance -- how well the organization is following procedure -- radiation protection programs, self-assessment, training, surveillance testing and monitoring, and reactor safety during outages.
The overall conclusions of our enhanced assessment can be summarized as -- this was in June 1997 -- Pickering has recognized past poor performance; improvement in safety culture of management and staff is evident; Pickering has initiated programs to correct past poor performance; there is strong support by Pickering and corporate management; there is evidence of buy-in by staff; implementation of programs is in various stages; in some cases we question or it's too early to determine effectiveness and sustainability; in a few cases major improvements are required, otherwise we would not expect success in either effectiveness or sustainability.
The Chair: What date was that, by the way?
Dr Parsons: This was submitted as an initial board member document to the board in May 1997.
We categorized the results of our assessment in three categories. Category 1: We viewed the results of our assessment as encouraging. Significant progress in implementation of new programs was in progress. We are optimistic that the programs will be both effective and sustainable. In that category, we included radiation protection, significant event report follow-up and nuclear safety during outages.
Category 2: These results are less encouraging. We recognize considerable effort has gone into improving performance, but unless changes are made, the sustainability and effectiveness of the program is questionable. It was too early to tell in some of these programs. The ones that fell into this category are self-assessment, training, surveillance testing and monitoring.
The third category is where major improvements are required, otherwise we would not expect success in either effectiveness or sustainability. In that category we included the maintenance program and procedural compliance.
Mr Harvie: Shall we continue with fire protection?
The Chair: Yes.
Mr Harvie: Canadian nuclear power stations have been built to the national and international fire protection codes and standards that were in place at the time of their construction. As a result, there is a recognized need to upgrade their fire protection capability, especially at the older stations, to bring them up to modern standards. In particular, we have been aware of potential problems in the A stations, Pickering A and Bruce A, in the event of a fire causing evacuation of the control room, since there is no secondary control room in these plants. We have placed action on Ontario Hydro as a result of these findings. The IIPA assessment which you've been hearing about at these hearings has come to similar conclusions.
The most recent Canadian standard is called CSA -- Canadian Standards Association -- standard N293 and was issued in revised form in 1995. In 1996, the AECB instructed all reactor licensees to assess their fire protection capability in light of this revised standard for fire protection and to review and report on their fire protection programs as well as provide a fire hazards assessment. These assessments, which are now under way, will help determine areas where improvements can be made to bring all the stations as much as possible in line with the most recent standards. This in turn will let the AECB determine whether any regulatory action is needed.
Notwithstanding the need for improvement, the AECB is satisfied that within the context of the design characteristics of Candu plants, the existing provisions for fire protection are adequate and do not compromise nuclear safety.
The AECB requires that Candu reactors be designed to withstand fires and to shut down and maintain fuel cooling should a fire damage key components. The requirements for fire protection involve a defence-in-depth approach involving three elements: first, fire protection through control of combustible materials and sources of ignition and good housekeeping; second, fire detection and suppression; and finally, limiting or mitigating the effects of fire, which may involve fire barriers to slow down the spread of fires.
It is importance to recognize that the fire protection philosophy applied to current Candu reactors is different from that used in the United States, and in particular, it does not rely to the same extent on establishing compartments with fire resistant boundaries to contain fires. As a result, comparison of specific requirements applied in the US and in Canada may not be very meaningful.
The AECB has reviewed the Ontario Hydro nuclear report on its fire protection functional inspection and we conclude that there is no new information that would require us to take immediate regulatory corrective action. The AECB generally supports the recommendations of the report. Their implementation would bring improvement to the standard of fire protection at Ontario Hydro nuclear stations in line with the AECB's instruction that improvements be made as appropriate in accordance with the revised CSA standard.
Thank you. That concludes what I wanted to say about fire protection. Mr Leblanc will add a few comments on emergency preparedness.
Mr Robert Leblanc: Offsite emergency planning around nuclear generating stations in Canada has become a significant issue in the past two years. This presentation will provide some background information on the role and responsibilities of the Atomic Energy Control Board in this area. I will also briefly elaborate on how emergency preparedness is integrated into the power reactor licensing process.
Depending on the magnitude and consequences of a hypothetical accident at the nuclear site, the nuclear emergency response actions could take place in two contiguous geographical areas: onsite and offsite.
The licensee, in this case Ontario Hydro, is responsible for onsite nuclear emergency planning, preparedness and response. This includes establishing linkages with agencies not on the site; for example, municipal and provincial authorities and the Atomic Energy Control Board.
The AECB reviews onsite emergency plans, programs and exercises to determine the overall capabilities of the licensees to respond to onsite emergencies. The AECB performs the reviews by determining compliance against existing licensing documentation; that is, policies, plans, procedures and training programs. As well, the AECB has developed criteria to measure emergency plans, programs and exercises, and these reviews are performed by a multidisciplinary AECB team. In addition, the AECB requires licensees to report on an annual basis the status of arrangements with authorities beyond the site boundary.
Regarding offsite nuclear emergency planning, preparedness and response, this is jurisdictionally the responsibility of the provinces, and the provinces oversee the preparedness of the municipalities. Because the offsite authorities generally do not have the full technical capabilities required to deal with the nuclear site in an emergency, they are reliant on close cooperation with the licensees.
There are actions that the operator of a nuclear power plant must do onsite to support offsite decisions, as well as activities to support the implementation of offsite actions. The licensees' responsibilities are written into the provincial nuclear emergency plans.
What is the role of the AECB in nuclear emergency planning? The AECB, as the regulator, verifies the emergency capabilities of its licensees. To do this, the AECB must be familiar not only with the licensees' preparations but with the linkages between the licensees and offsite agencies. The AECB's role during an emergency is thus to monitor the response outside, to evaluate the emergency response actions, to provide technical advice when requested, to provide regulatory approval when required and to inform the federal government and the public on its assessment of the situation as a federal regulator.
I would now like to say a few words on how offsite nuclear emergency preparedness is integrated into the power reactor licensing process.
First of all, the issuance of an operating licence is contingent on the presence of a provincially approved offsite nuclear emergency plan. In clear terms, it means that the board would probably not issue an operating licence in the absence of an approved plan. The final decision, of course, will rest with the board.
The AECB does not approve nor enforce nuclear emergency planning standards beyond the boundaries of nuclear facilities, nor does it judge the adequacy of outside nuclear emergency plans. This is done by the respective provinces, since emergency preparedness is a provincial jurisdiction.
AECB judgements of adequate operational plant safety are made independently from consideration of provincial or municipal plans for handling emergency situations. That is, no credit is taken for offsite actions in the safety analysis for the emergency phase of an accident.
As I mentioned before, the AECB requires licensees to include in their own onsite emergency plans measures that ensure communication and coordination with and support to offsite authorities during emergency situations. Information on the licensees' onsite emergency arrangements is required to be reported by the licensees. Therefore, if a licensee is not meeting its offsite obligations as outlined in its own onsite emergency plan, the AECB can take regulatory action against the licensee.
The AECB has criteria to assess the integration of the licensees' plans with the offsite nuclear emergency plans.
The AECB also supports and closely cooperates with offsite authorities in the development and maintenance of the offsite nuclear emergency preparedness capabilities. For example, the AECB is currently assisting Emergency Measures Ontario and Ontario Hydro on the new provincial nuclear emergency plan with regard to venting strategies and public alerting.
In closing, the AECB has relied on Emergency Measures Ontario as the competent authority to advise on the status and adequacy of the plan. The plan has been judged by Emergency Measures Ontario to be adequate. However, a number of deficiencies have been identified. Thus the plan is being rewritten as part of what is called Project Upgrade. The new provincial plan will go into service March 1, 1998, and the plan will undergo a major test at the end of April 1998 as part of the CANATEX-3 exercise.
Emergency Measures Ontario has further informed the AECB that an adequate level of preparedness is being maintained while the current plan is being revised and implemented.
Mr Harvie: That concludes the presentations. We are open to answer any questions the committee may have.
The Chair: Thank you very much. The time will go for 10 minutes per caucus. We will rotate by caucus on the questions and I will begin with the Liberal caucus.
Mr Monte Kwinter (Wilson Heights): In its broadest sense, the major concern of AECB is to regulate the safety of a nuclear facility. Is that correct?
Mr Harvie: That's correct.
Mr Kwinter: If you grant a six-month licence, which I assume is the minimal licence that you would -- you wouldn't grant a three-month licence.
Mr Harvie: No.
Mr Kwinter: Your practice has been a six-month licence. That is the lowest category that you can get licensed in.
Mr Harvie: Other than zero.
Mr Kwinter: Well, other than zero, where you can't operate. I'm saying the lowest category you can operate at would be a six-month licence, which indicates that there are serious concerns and unless there is some improvement, there is going to be a possibility of no licence. Would that be a fair assessment?
Mr Harvie: Yes, that's a fair assessment.
Mr Kwinter: Tell me this. In your assessment, when you talked about what you had done up until March 1997, and you issued your assessment report in May 1997, I assume that up until March it was on a six-month licence. What was the result of that assessment? Was there a change in the length of the licence?
Mr Harvie: The six-month licence expired on June 30 and the board issued, at its meeting in June, a nine-month licence. The staff actually recommended to the board that it issue a one-year licence and the board chose to issue a nine-month licence, which expires on March 31, 1998.
Mr Kwinter: Is it the practice of the board to extend a six-month licence for a further six months? Has that ever happened?
Mr Harvie: The board has extended licences but generally for shorter periods if it's an administrative thing. I don't think the board has ever extended a licence by six months.
Mr Kwinter: It's apparent that there were concerns by the board of the ability of Ontario Hydro Nuclear to really implement the assessment recommendations that you had made and they wanted to make sure that this thing didn't go too far before they had a chance to re-examine it.
Mr Harvie: That's correct. The board has made it very clear that it is not impressed by plans; they want to see results and they want to sustained results. The record of Ontario Hydro over the last few years is to have very good plans but, as we have discussed at another session, they have not been very successful in implementing them.
Mr Kwinter: A couple of weeks ago there was a CBC program that highlighted the fire danger at Pickering. Do you agree with what that report indicated? It was taken directly out of the IIPA. Do you agree with that?
Mr Harvie: I saw that program. I did not agree with all of it. The IIPA findings with respect to fire protection we generally agree with and they're generally consistent with what our inspections and audits and evaluations have found.
Some of the allegations on that program compared Canadian requirements with US requirements. As I tried to explain in my formal presentation, because the philosophy is different, comparing specific US and Canadian requirements is not very meaningful. A great deal was made over a particular foam substance that was used as a fire barrier in the US. Given the different philosophy, that particular material's fire resistance is of less importance in Canada than it is in the US, because of the open concept and the separation which is part of the Canadian concept, rather than the fireproof compartments, which is the US philosophy.
Mr Kwinter: Of the various potential hazards at a nuclear facility, how would you rank fire as a hazard? On a scale of one to 10, how would you rank the seriousness?
Mr Harvie: I'm not going to give you a number. It's a significant hazard. From a nuclear safety point of view, it's important to prevent a fire which can compromise nuclear safety. Given the redundancy and the fail-safe nature of the equipment in a Candu reactor and the separation of the equipment, a fire is unlikely to have a serious effect on nuclear safety. In other words, if the fire affects a shutdown system, it will affect the shutdown system by causing it to shut down the reactor, because of fail-safe.
There are heat sinks. The other thing you have to do once you've shut down the reactor is to cool the fuel, and there are redundant and separate systems for cooling the fuel at all the reactors. They are better at some than others; better at the B stations than the A stations.
A fire is a serious event, but from pretty well all the situations we have looked at, a fire is unlikely to have a serious effect on nuclear safety.
Mr Conway: Have you ever heard of this fellow Gerald Brown?
Mr Harvie: Yes. He's written to us on several occasions.
Mr Conway: What do you know of his professional expertise and the work he's done?
Mr Harvie: Not very much.
Mr Conway: Have you made any effort to find out whether he's on to something about fire hazards around Canadian nuclear power reactors?
Mr Harvie: I have not personally. Our staff have reviewed his letters. A number of letters have gone backwards and forwards between Mr Brown and our staff.
Mr Conway: You haven't summoned him in for a visit, to say, "We'd like to talk to you face to face about some pretty serious charges you made on national television here a couple of weeks ago"?
Mr Harvie: No, we have not done that.
Mr Conway: One of the issues that has been raised in this connection is some of the materials. In responding to my colleague Mr Kwinter you mentioned the importance or lack thereof of certain materials in the Canadian reactors. Those materials, as I understand it, are the ones that plug the holes, the conduit corridors. Can you confirm, or is there any truth to the rumour I've heard that the AECB and/or Industry Canada are currently investigating the appropriateness of the use of materials like Elastoseal and RTV silicone foam in Canadian reactor systems?
Mr Harvie: The AECB and Industry Canada?
Mr Conway: It's been put to me that there's some concern about certain brand-name products because of their fire retardance or lack thereof. Is that true? Is the AECB looking at those two materials, Elastoseal and RTV silicone foam? Just yes or no. Are you investigating?
Mr Harvie: Not to my knowledge. We are addressing questions of foam with Mr Brown. To my knowledge, we're not investigating any particular products. I don't claim to know 100% of what's going on in the AECB, so perhaps there is something going on that I'm not aware of.
Mr Conway: It's been suggested to me that there are certain products that are giving some concern about their capacity to retard fire or the spread of fire, and the two products that were mentioned to me were Elastoseal and RTV silicone foam. I'm no expert, but I'd appreciate if you could respond perhaps in writing to the Chair or the staff of the committee on those two issues.
Mr Harvie: Okay.
Mr Conway: I gather from talking to some people there was some concern identified around some of those products. It's just a rumour, that's all I know, and it may or may not be true. You're the regulator. My experience in this committee, particularly in this round, is, pay attention to all these rumours, pay attention to the flat earth crowd, because they'll generally be proven right. That's something I've said before, and I'm much more willing to pay attention to that material now than I might have been five or 15 years ago.
A final question, about fire protection again. In the reactor systems, I gather there is something called the control and power cable corridors that connect the control room with the reactor sites. They're called, what, redundant safe shutdown trains? Is that the actual phraseology that's used?
Mr Harvie: I don't think so.
Mr Conway: All right. Well, one of the questions that was put to me, and I can't resist the opportunity to ask you, is: Is there a problem with that corridor that connects the control room and the reactor, particularly for the cables and all of that material? It was suggested to me that one of the problems was that it was not properly protected on all sides for fire protection purposes. Is that anything about which you have any information?
Mr Harvie: There are problems identified in the IIPA with a room called the cable spreading room, which is a room that has cables that go from the control room to some of the equipment. A fire in that room, particularly at the A stations, as identified in the IIPA, could put a lot of smoke into the control room and maybe make it necessary to evacuate the control room and come back in with special equipment. That may be what you're --
Mr Conway: I appreciate your response. Thank you.
The Chair: Thank you, Mr Conway. Mr Harvie, perhaps you might take that as notice as well and provide further information for the committee along the lines of Mr Conway's request.
Mr Harvie: By all means.
Mr Laughren: I have three or four questions. One has to do with one of the slides that was shown on inspections. The one that rang a bell in my head was when it indicated that when a physical security check was being done, that was announced. It occurred to me that of all the inspections that were done -- I appreciate that some you have to announce, because I can recall some of the problems in the mining industry when mining inspectors come in unannounced versus announced. But I wondered why a physical security inspection would be announced. Are they afraid somebody might get their head blown off, or --
Dr Parsons: If you refer to that slide, it says it's both announced and unannounced.
Mr Laughren: I thought the one that said "physical" --
Dr Parsons: Yes, "physical security inspection"; it has "announced/unannounced."
Mr Laughren: Oh, yes. Okay.
Dr Parsons: Some of them are announced, where we need the cooperation of the licensee to do it, but other times we would carry out an inspection unannounced.
Mr Laughren: It would be pretty easy to tighten up if you knew that --
Dr Parsons: It's my general finding that you could tell Ontario Hydro months ahead of time that you're doing something, and probably it's a good thing to do; then they would correct it. You'll find it's very evident that they have done so.
Mr Harvie: On the other hand, the fact that we have staff onsite all the time precludes the possibility that people are going to be doing different things when they're not being inspected than when they are.
Mr Laughren: Right. You made reference to the December 1996 issue, when the six-month licence was granted. Then in May 1997 a further approval was given for operating, right? I'm wondering to what extent that was because Andognini and his cohorts from the US were there moving and shaking at Ontario Hydro.
Mr Harvie: At that point in time Andognini hadn't succeeded in doing very much moving and shaking, so I don't think our decision was based on anything Andognini did. It was based on Dr Parson's and his colleagues' observations that at least in some areas things were improving. There's still a long way to go, but there was some sign of improvement.
Mr Laughren: It struck me that there were I think eight assessment areas you went through where there were problems. When Dr Bishop was here, one of the things she indicated was that Hydro is good at making plans but not very good at implementing them. I just wondered how you knew, when you had done an assessment and you went back and said, "It looks like things are in place to correct these," that it wouldn't be the same old story. How did you come to that in order to grant them a further licence?
Mr Harvie: We didn't necessarily come to that conclusion. The board only issued a nine-month licence, which is considerably short of the normal two-year period. We have decided to try to put a new condition in the licence relating to implementation of these plans. I have an action from the last board meeting to produce some proposals with respect to that by the end of this year. We have learned from our previous experience that accepting good plans from Ontario Hydro is not adequate; we have to monitor much more closely the implementation of their plans and verify that they are in fact succeeding in implementing the plans.
Mr Laughren: I want to turn to the fire protection issue, in which I think you indicated that you came to the conclusion that no new changes were required, that they were meeting the standards. I don't want to put words in your mouth.
Mr Harvie: Okay, I'll give you some better words. We came to the conclusion, on the basis of the IIPA, that there was no new information that would require us to take immediate corrective regulatory action. We have identified to you that there is a revised Canadian Standards Association standard on fire protection which not all the plants comply with at this time, particularly the older plants. We have asked Ontario Hydro to review their plants against that standard, and once we have that review, we will determine what improvements are needed to bring them up to that standard. So we have not concluded that no improvements are needed; we have concluded that there are no urgent, immediate regulatory actions required to be taken following the IIPA.
Mr Laughren: The reason I asked that was that we had here this afternoon Mr --
Mr Harvie: Ferguson?
Mr Laughren: Yes, Ferguson.
Mr Conway: Careful. You don't want to --
Mr Laughren: No, that was in open session, wasn't it? I don't want to mix up my open sessions and closed sessions. I'll be impeached.
The Chair: I'm listening very carefully.
Mr Laughren: Thank you. The impression I got was that AECB was not at all exercised about Hydro's fire protection ability but the crew that Mr Andognini brought in was, and as a result, not at all because of AECB but because of their own people, the Andognini group, they decided that they would go out and spend $151 million over the next five years to improve fire protection at the nuclear plants. I found it strange that this internal group would come to that conclusion -- that's a lot of money -- but not because of AECB.
They also told us that a fire at a nuclear plant could indeed be a nuclear problem, not just a fire problem, and therefore it seems to me it should be on the doorstep of AECB. I don't understand how it is that AECB wouldn't be out in front on that issue rather than simply following along, "Ready, aye, ready," to the Hydro internal people. Can you help me out?
Mr Harvie: I think we were out in front. The new standard was issued in 1995. In September 1996, before Andognini and company entered this country --
Mr Laughren: This was 1997.
Mr Harvie: Yes. In 1996, before Andognini and company entered this country, the AECB required Ontario Hydro to review its plans against the new standard. In Pickering specifically we wrote to Ontario Hydro in 1994 -- Dr Parsons can perhaps add to that -- expressing concerns about fire protection. I would say that we were certainly requiring Ontario Hydro to look at what needed to be done to update the fire protection before Mr Andognini and his colleagues came into this country.
Mr Laughren: I'm going to go back and check Hansard. I don't want to get into an argument with you, but certainly my sense was that the AECB was -- I don't want to be unfair and say "content," but the AECB had not required Hydro to do anything on the fire protection, whereas Hydro internally -- Mr Ferguson I guess is the gentleman's name who was the one who said, and these are my words now, not his, "We're not satisfied with what the AECB is satisfied with. We're going to spend $151 million over five years to improve the system." That didn't come from AECB. I wonder why.
Mr Harvie: That decision was Ontario Hydro's decision based on the IIPA assessment, and certainly Ontario Hydro has been treating it more urgently since the IIPA assessment. But the requirement to review the fire protection of the stations against CSA N293 was placed on Ontario Hydro in September 1996, before Andognini or Ferguson were involved.
Mr Laughren: My final question is, do you agree that a fire in a nuclear plant is not just a fire but is potentially a nuclear problem as well? That's not what I heard you say a few minutes ago.
Mr Harvie: A fire in a nuclear plant is a nuclear problem if the reactor fails to shut down when it should shut down or if the fuel, which after shut down is still producing heat, is not cooled to remove the decay heat. The fire protection is better at the newer plants, at the B stations. A shutdown's okay, as I said. It's all fail-safe, so anything the fire can do will cause the reactor to shut down.
With respect to fuel cooling, there are at the B plants well-separated systems for keeping the fuel cool. If you had a fire in one area which damaged one system for cooling the fuel, you would still have another system. The degree of separation is better at the newer stations than at the older stations. If you managed to damage all your fuel-cooling systems with a fire, then, yes, a fire would become a nuclear safety issue, but we believe that's unlikely.
Mr Laughren: That's why I worried about the AECB having its hands off.
Mr Galt: Good evening. I'm interested in the operation of the AECB. You said in Ottawa there are some 320 or 330 staff. How many are in the various plants? What kind of numbers do you have per plant?
Mr Harvie: We have nine professionals at Pickering.
Mr Galt: That's A and B combined?
Mr Harvie: Yes. We have five at Darlington -- one of these posts is currently vacant -- and we have nine at Bruce A and B.
Mr Galt: What other activities is the AECB involved in over and above looking after these nuclear plants?
Mr Harvie: We're responsible for regulating uranium mines, fuel fabrication facilities, heavy water plants, all the radioisotopes. We have several thousand users of radioisotopes in Canada who are licensed by the AECB. We're responsible for waste management. I've probably missed one or two. Fill me in, guys.
Dr Parsons: Accelerators.
Mr Harvie: Accelerators, yes; research reactors.
Mr Galt: There have to be some unique requirements here when you start looking at fire. It was being alluded to a few minutes ago that there was the potential of a nuclear incident once a fire starts out at one of these plants. What kind of requirements are you expecting in these plants to ensure that the fire doesn't end up creating a nuclear incident or meltdown, whatever? What are you expecting in a fire plan?
Mr Harvie: We're expecting fire protection systems, control of combustible materials so that fires don't happen.
Mr Galt: Over and above a standard plant that's going to expect all those things, what are the steps in between over and above a regular plant that may have some paper laying around or oil or whatever? You must have other expectations for a nuclear plant than just what you would have in a regular plant, because of its uniqueness. I just can't believe you'd have just basically the same needs and requirements.
Mr Harvie: Fire protection in principle is not any different in a nuclear plant. Perhaps you have to do it better, but you have to do the same things and perhaps do them better. That's why the various experts have got together and produced a standard which addresses fire protection, fire detection, fire suppression and fire mitigation and all these good things you do.
Mr Galt: You don't have any unique requirements for the control room or any uniqueness about the coverings on wires to prevent fire from spreading or special fire walls or any of those kind of expectations in your licensing?
Mr Harvie: Yes, some of these things are in the standard.
Mr Galt: But that's standard in any one, so there's nothing extra you expect in a nuclear plant.
Mr Harvie: This is a nuclear standard; it's not a general fire protection --
Mr Galt: That's over and above standards in a regular building.
Mr Harvie: Yes. This is a Canadian standard on --
Mr Galt: That's what I'm asking.
Mr Harvie: Yes, and we can get you a copy of that standard if you want to read it.
Mr Galt: I think we should have it as a committee.
Mr Harvie: We'll get you a copy of that. It tells you all the things that you should do.
Mr Galt: That was what I was really asking about.
Mr Harvie: By all means.
Mr Galt: We were a little horrified, of course, by the media coverage the other night. As a committee, it made us sit up and take notice. Some of the questions were already asked. Do you think that what we're talking about here as a fire risk is part and parcel of the management problem that we've been told about that is present at Ontario Hydro?
Mr Harvie: Yes. I think, as you heard this afternoon from Mr Ferguson, there have been management problems at Ontario Hydro and these affect the management processes in the area of fire protection just as it affected other areas.
Mr Galt: What kind of interaction is there between the AECB, the local fire department and Ontario Hydro, particularly the nuclear? Is there any coordination among three bodies such as that when it comes to fire prevention coordination? Do they ever sit down and talk to each other? Or is it more by a piece of paper and, "This is what we're proposing"?
Dr Parsons: During the initial licensing of the plant, when we first give it a licence, we discuss this matter with the local fire marshal and we ensure that he is satisfied that the measures for fire protection in the plant are acceptable to him. After we do that, we don't interface with him that closely again, except perhaps working with him in an emergency drill.
Mr Galt: Mr Chair, I believe Mrs Johns has some questions as well.
Mrs Helen Johns (Huron): It's my understanding first of all that the fire marshal has a great deal of power, but it's also my understanding that he can't really move into an issue without being asked by either the atomic energy board, the minister or Ontario Hydro. Is that correct?
Mr Harvie: Audrey, would you like to address that one?
Mrs Johns: No, she wouldn't.
Mrs Audrey Nowack: I can't talk about the fire marshal's authority.
Mrs Johns: I'm talking about, can the fire marshal just walk in off the street and do something at one of these Hydro plants?
Mrs Nowack: Within the scope of his authority, yes. I can't describe what the scope of that authority is.
Mrs Johns: It's been told to us -- and it could be wrong, I admit this -- that the fire marshal can only become involved if they're asked by Ontario Hydro, the minister or the atomic energy board. You would disagree with that?
Mrs Nowack: Which minister?
Mrs Johns: Energy, I would assume.
Mrs Nowack: The Ontario minister?
Mrs Johns: Yes.
Mrs Nowack: The relationship between the fire marshal and whatever minister that person is connected with I can't talk about. I don't have enough knowledge to know anything about that.
Mrs Johns: Can the Atomic Energy Control Board call in a fire marshal?
Mr Harvie: Yes, we can, certainly.
Mrs Johns: Have you ever called --
Mr Harvie: But what the legal split of jurisdiction is, you're asking the wrong person that.
Mrs Nowack: The AECB doesn't have any supervisory power over the Ontario fire marshal as far as I'm aware.
Mrs Johns: So if you recognize that there is a fire problem or it's not meeting a standard, all you can do is inform Ontario Hydro that there's a problem, you can't get someone to come in and check your work or see that there is a fire problem, or how does that work?
Mr Harvie: We can certainly bring in people to verify whether there's a problem, and several times in the past we have brought in people with expertise in fire, on one occasion a former fire marshal, a consulting firm. We have brought in people like that to assess fire hazards and to help us review fire exercises.
Mrs Johns: But never a current fire marshal, from what I'm hearing you not say?
Mr Harvie: Not to my knowledge. I couldn't swear to that, but not to my knowledge.
Mrs Johns: The other thing I wanted to ask you about was, in the CBC report the other day they had two issues that you have touched on today in some of your presentations. They suggested that not having a second control room was a substantial problem that should be looked at, and the second issue was that the fire barriers did not go all the way up to the ceiling. Have these been comments that you've been making to Ontario Hydro in the past or areas where you have expressed concern and asked them to take corrective actions?
Mr Harvie: There are two questions. For Bruce B, Pickering B and Darlington, there are secondary control rooms, so we're talking about the two A stations which, as it happens, will not be operating for very much longer. If and when Ontario Hydro plans to restart them, we will obviously be addressing these questions before we permit them to be restarted. The question of the secondary control room or the ability to activate essential equipment from somewhere other than the primary control room is certainly something we have addressed with Ontario Hydro.
The question of walls not being all the way up to the ceiling is a question of this difference between the US and the Canadian approaches. The US want to put everything in a compartment and make sure the fire can't spread out of that. We have a different approach: We keep things more spread out and accessible for fire mitigation, and separate so that fire doesn't spread from one system to a redundant system. So questions such as walls going all the way up to the ceiling are part of trying to apply American standards in a Canadian philosophy.
Mrs Johns: I don't know a lot about the building code, but it seems to me that when you have a building and they make you put fire doors in to stop the flow, it must be an Ontario building code or something that would say there has to be some kind of boxing approach going on. For example, in any business you have where you have fire doors -- for example, I can think specifically about hospitals. You have fire doors, and that boxes the fire into a smaller, compartmentalized area so that it can't spread all through the hospital.
How do you in a nuclear plant stop the fire from spreading throughout the whole building if you don't have something that compartmentalizes the fire?
Mr Harvie: By having processes to prevent the fire starting in the first place, to make sure fires are detected quickly and that there are people available to mitigate the effect of the fire.
Mrs Johns: You're obviously not doing that if you have had 34 fires in Pickering in the last year.
Mr Harvie: I think you heard that there were not 34 fires.
Mrs Johns: Well, 15 of them were false alarms, but you had 15 of them.
Mr Harvie: To my knowledge, none of them were allowed to spread very far, which suggests that the absence of barriers is not preventing Ontario Hydro from limiting the spread of fires.
The Chair: Mr Harvie, thank you very much. We have exhausted our time, and I do appreciate it.
I just have one question I might ask to pick up on a little piece of evidence that you gave just a moment or two ago. I think it was in response to Mr Conway, or maybe Mr Kwinter: the question of the eight assessment areas that were indicated earlier on the chart. This goes back over, say, the 1994-96 period when there seems to have been some sense of deterioration of standards at Ontario Hydro, and then there was the May 1997 board meeting at which consideration was given to revisiting what had been a six-month extension of a licence. There are eight assessment areas.
If memory serves me correctly, you had three categories. You had category 1, which was to be showing signs of improvement, and so obviously you're reasonably satisfied you're moving in that direction; category 2, which, while you're showing signs of improvement, you're not there yet and it's still premature to make any decisions; and category 3, too early to tell, can't really get into that yet. Of that, if memory serves me correctly, there were three of the assessment areas in category 1, there were three in category 2, and there were two in category 3. If I am wrong on that, perhaps you can just indicate and make some fine-tuning to that.
Dr Parsons: You were right with regard to the numbers. There are three in category 1, three in category 2 and two in category 3, but none of these categories were as favourable as you perhaps have indicated. For example, category 3, which was the worst category, was a category where major improvements are required; otherwise, we would not expect success.
The Chair: To be in category 3, are you telling the committee that at that point when you had done your inspection, it was clear that Ontario Hydro had made no advances in those areas?
Dr Parsons: They had made some advances, but we felt they had to go a long way yet and make changes in what they were actually doing. We weren't convinced --
The Chair: The question I'm trying to put to you is that at least in all three categories you have seen some movement; in some areas not as much as you would wish, such as category 3?
Dr Parsons: That's correct. It's very minimal in category 3.
The Chair: I also want to make sure I'm very clear that the board gave a nine-month extension instead of the previous six-month extension. Is that correct?
Dr Parsons: That's correct.
The Chair: But I seem to recall your telling me that the staff had recommended a one-year. Is that true or not?
Mr Harvie: It was not an extension; it was a renewal of the licence. The staff recommended --
The Chair: Whatever the term is, whether it's renewal or extension or whatever it's called, there was the staff recommendation of a year, but the board had decided nine months.
Mr Harvie: That's correct.
The Chair: But the staff had recommended a year?
Mr Harvie: That's correct.
The Chair: I have nothing further. I appreciate your time. Thank you so much, and I hope you will respond to the committee if there are more written requests. There are a number of items, I know from Mr Conway's request and a number of Mr Laughren's points, that they would like to have tabled, if you would be good enough to make sure that's tabled with us.
Mr Harvie: We'll get you a copy of the standard.
The Chair: Thank you very much. We appreciate it very much.
We will turn our attention to the Ontario fire marshal and to the Pickering fire chief. If they can take their places at the witness stand, we will proceed with our final deputation of the evening.
While we're preparing for that, I remind the committee that tomorrow morning we will meet at 0900, and for the first half-hour we will be in camera. Then we will deal directly with the nuclear asset optimization plan. So we're at the very heart of the issue we're wrestling with now, the recovery plan. That will take place from 9 until 12 o'clock.
In the afternoon, Marc Eliesen will be here, and I propose that we keep it, if possible --
The Chair: -- to either give more time to Mr Eliesen, or in fact we have more time to deal with the recovery plan. There may be a number of questions that flow out of that. We may also want to have questions of Ernst and Young. There may be a number of things focusing around that, and I would recommend to the committee we play that fairly carefully in the afternoon.
OFFICE OF THE FIRE MARSHAL
TOWN OF PICKERING
The Chair: Welcome to the committee. If each of you would be good enough to identify yourself for the purposes of Hansard, and then I'm in your hands for your deputation.
Mr Jim Coulson: My name is Jim Coulson. I'm the manager of program coordination for the office of the fire marshal.
Mr Joshy Kallungal: My name is Joshy Kallungal. I'm the acting manager for research and standards, office of the fire marshal.
Mr Rick Pearsall: I'm Rick Pearsall, the fire chief for the town of Pickering.
Mr Tom Quinn: My name is Tom Quinn. I'm the general manager and CAO for the town of Pickering.
The Chair: Mr Coulson, are you making the initial presentation, or is the chief? How do you wish to proceed?
Mr Coulson: Chief, do you want to --
The Chair: There was no choir practice, I perceive. If there was no choir practice, then I'll direct it. Mr Coulson, if you will begin, please, and then we'll go to the chief.
Mr Coulson: Certainly I can begin by answering some of the questions that were asked earlier.
At this point, to the best of our knowledge, the office of the fire marshal does not have any jurisdiction in nuclear plants.
Mrs Johns: There you go; nobody has any.
Mr Coulson: However, the concern of the office of the fire marshal is public safety. Saying that, we would have concerns if the issues that were identified in the report are in fact a risk to public safety in Ontario, and we would want them addressed very quickly by those having the authority and the jurisdiction over seeing these remedied. We're quite willing to support the local fire department in those endeavours.
That's been our role traditionally in the past, to provide advice and assistance to municipal fire departments on management of fire protection issues where the local fire department has jurisdiction and where we have the resources to support that request.
At this time we do not have any specific expertise in nuclear fire safety or fire protection. The role of our staff, as I mentioned earlier, is to provide advice and assistance to municipalities and fire departments, and that centres around fire department organization and management, training, equipment purchases, fire prevention, public education, code interpretations and code enforcement. The advice has been generally limited to conventional fire issues and not issues such as nuclear plants.
We do have staff throughout the province who provide this advice and assistance to the fire departments. I know that in the past they have provided advice at Bruce and at Darlington. While those plants were being brought on stream, there was some support from our office to the local fire service in those areas.
We also have support for our field staff and for others in code interpretations or any of the technical aspects of the fire code. That technical expertise is available through Mr Kallungal's department, where they specialize in code enforcement and technical matters in providing fire safety.
In this case, our role is mainly in support of the local fire department as they interact with nuclear plants or any other fire protection problem they face within the municipality. As an office, we have provided advice and assistance to other ministries within government, other agencies within government, and that has also been one of our roles.
I hope that clarifies some of what our role will be in this process.
Mr Pearsall: I'm the chief of the Town of Pickering Fire Department. I've been the chief for approximately four years, but I've been with the department for 27 years. We've worked very closely with the Pickering nuclear generating station through all the years that I've been with the department. We've assisted each other in nuclear incidents, mainly offsite, where the atomic people have come out and helped us when we've had a nuclear incident in an industrial accident or in transportation. A lot of times they've been very beneficial by bringing their monitoring equipment and bringing their expertise to help us in the environment.
The problem is that most people believe, because they see an Ontario Hydro vehicle, that it's Ontario Hydro's problem, which isn't always the case. We've had incidents on the 401 where they've come out and given us their expertise and equipment to clean up hazardous spills when the department, years ago, didn't have the availability of the equipment.
We have worked very closely with them. We cross-train, we train in CPR, first aid, pumping, rescue training, all the basics of firefighting. Some of the firefighters who are within the plant are volunteer firefighters in the neighbouring municipalities. The fire department has utilized the Wesleyville training centre with the Hydro crews, and we work one on one when we go into an emergency situation within the plant. We've dealt down there in confined space with high-angle rescue and liquefied gases, which we deal with again in residential, but they also have on site.
In 1995, we had 19 drills with the fire crews from the Pickering nuclear generating station, and before we went into these we had a three-hour pre-training session with representatives from Hydro so we could get a feel for the environment before we went in. In 1996, we had seven fire simulations and three hazmat drills. We have also, even though we have no mandate, worked with them in working out hot work areas, when they have problems dealing with cutting, when they're doing their welding within the plant. Our fire prevention division has been very proactive with them.
We always work, as I say, one on one. When we go into the plant, we deal with a radiation protection assistant, who is a green man, as we call them. They work one on one, with one firefighter and one of these green people, so that our people are always assured they'll be properly looked after in the environment. They're also given dosimeters, which we pick up at the gate when we go in, so that we are always monitored and we have a full record of any contaminants we may have been involved with. In all the years I've been with the department, I've never known of any incidents where they've had to call us to tell us somebody has been contaminated.
The one thing I will say about dealing with the atomic plant or going into the atomic industry is that when we go there, we know what we're going into. We know we're dealing with a specific type of environment, which is basically a small city, when you look at the size of it. When we go in there, they have the equipment to monitor us going in and to tell us what we're going into, and they monitor it from the time we get there until the time we get out, which unfortunately we don't even get in private industry. We can get into the same environment either in industry or in transportation, on our highways.
We do no internal inspections of the plant proper, but we have been in the administration building, we've helped them with their evacuation plans, we've monitored their plans and we've given them advice to help them in that environment.
I don't know what else to add, other than that we work well in a one-on-one, and I have complete confidence in the people I'm dealing with.
The Chair: Thank you, Chief. We appreciate that evidence. Anyone else? No? Then we go to the committee. We will rotate by caucus, about 10 minutes per caucus.
Mr Laughren: If I could speak to the chief, I'm not from the GTA, and I'm sure you understand how inadequate that makes me feel, but it leads to the next question: What is the population of Pickering?
Mr Pearsall: It's 81,000 people.
Mr Laughren: You made reference to volunteers. Is it a volunteer fire department, with that population?
Mr Pearsall: Our department is a composite department. We have a population, as I say, of 81,000 people. We cover approximately 90 square miles, but most of the population is within three or four miles of Lake Ontario. Then we get into the Brougham and Claremont area, which is part of the federal airport property. There are lots of exclusive homes up there, but a very limited population. The hamlet of Claremont may have 300 homes in it, and they have strictly a volunteer department up there, and also in Brougham it's part-time.
We do have 80 full-time firefighters. We staff three halls at all times.
Mr Laughren: Okay. I couldn't put it together, the volunteer, with that population.
When you do these manoeuvres, if that's the right term, with Ontario Hydro onsite, are these the full-time people who would be involved in that?
Mr Pearsall: We use our full-time and our volunteer staff. We train all our staff at the same level. They're trained to the standards that have been laid out by the fire marshal's office. All our staff have to go through that training, even our volunteer staff, for a minimum of approximately eight months before we allow them to go to emergency situations.
Mr Laughren: Are you aware that there's an emergency measures plan by Hydro?
Mr Pearsall: The Durham emergency medical and the emergency nuclear plan? Yes.
Mr Laughren: Are you satisfied that it, first of all, adequately deals with the population?
Mr Pearsall: I really can't make comment on that. Even though I have experience in emergency planning, the plan is being rewritten, as you know, at this particular time by the provincial government. We'll see when it comes out. In Durham region we're also redoing the plan right now.
Mr Laughren: Do you think the population of the Pickering area, the 81,000 if you will, or make it more constricted if you wish, is aware of that emergency measures plan?
Mr Pearsall: There has been information distributed by Ontario Hydro to indicate that there is a plan.
Mr Laughren: But that doesn't necessarily mean the population is well enough aware of the plan and what to do in case of a major incident.
Mr Pearsall: It would be marginal.
Mr Laughren: I'm not trying to put you on the spot, Chief.
Mr Pearsall: I appreciate that.
Mr Laughren: You've got your job to do --
Mr Pearsall: I hear you.
Mr Laughren: -- and I'm sure you do it well. I'm just trying to get at the --
Mr Pearsall: The basics.
Mr Laughren: Yes, at the whole issue of Ontario Hydro's preparedness, if you will. The other thing I was wondering is, do you know why it's being rewritten now?
Mr Pearsall: We just did one in Pickering in 1995, where we did a simulation. Now we're going into CANATEX next year with the Clarington plan. What they want to do is draw them so they can have a plan that's viable to both locations. So they're rewriting it. There's also more information that has to be distributed, like evacuation etc.
Mr Laughren: Did you by any chance see the CBC program last week?
Mr Pearsall: Very briefly, yes.
Mr Laughren: Did it cause you some tremors?
Mr Pearsall: I just saw it today, actually. Not especially.
Mr Laughren: No? Does it ever occur to you as the fire chief -- that's a very responsible position you have, I must say. I think that's an important position. I'm not trying to puff you up, but being the fire chief in a community of 81,000 people is not an insignificant responsibility.
It seems to me that if I was viewing that film, I'd be nervous about what was in there, just in terms of fire. Secondly, I'd be nervous about what it means in terms of the nuclear component of a fire. To what extent is your fire department made aware of that aspect of a fire? In other words, if the fire was severe and if it couldn't be put out and if it caused a nuclear incident, not just a fire where it burned to the ground but there was a nuclear incident, is your department aware of the dangers there and what to do about it and how to communicate with the community?
Mr Pearsall: We've been trained with the radiation protection groups. They've come in and they do an ongoing training session with our people. I'm aware of what they consider to be their worst-case scenario.
Mr Laughren: I think this responsibility is largely Hydro's, as opposed to yours as the local fire chief, but do you feel that if there was a nuclear incident -- and I don't want to scare anybody here -- your people have the ability to get the word out to the community that this is happening?
Mr Pearsall: No, we do not have the ability to transmit that information to the public.
Mr Laughren: As this new plan is being reworked or rewritten, will that be part of that whole --
Mr Pearsall: That is one of the key components, the notification of the local residents within the 10-kilometre zone of the plant.
Mr Galt: I'll be sharing time with Mr O'Toole.
I have two conundrums, and I need the fire marshal to help me out. They're not very clear in my mind at all. Mr Coulson, if you can, number one, you said that your office does not have nuclear expertise. I've got the feeling that at the AECB they take it to a certain level, to license, and sort of stop there. Yes, they recognize the difference. I'm getting a feeling that there's a big crack that we allow nuclear activity or fires in those nuclear areas, reactors, to fall into. I'm extremely uncomfortable, as I have heard testimony this evening and previously, that there's really no one out there keeping a good check on our nuclear plants as it relates to fire. Is that right? Is that what you've told me?
Mr Coulson: No.
Mr Galt: No? Okay. I heard you say that you --
Mr Coulson: I'm saying that we have no jurisdiction within those plants. It hasn't been our realm to be in there inspecting. We have no regulatory authority. We have, to the best of our knowledge, no authority to enter and inspect and enforce any codes on the property. The licensing agreement is with the AECB and not with the provincial government. All fires other than nuclear fires -- certainly within our office and in the local fire department there is expertise in dealing with the typical fires that do occur. As I say, we do have expertise in that area.
It has never been, to my knowledge, presented to us to be involved in a nuclear-type fire. We've never been asked -- Joshy, correct me if I'm wrong -- for any expertise in that field.
Mr Galt: Are there other areas that you don't get involved in, such as this nuclear, in a similar sort of way, or is this one unique in itself?
Mr Coulson: This is unique. It's federal licensing; the licensing component doesn't fall under provincial jurisdiction. So to this point our office has had no need to be involved, and, as I say, to my knowledge were never asked to be involved.
Mr Galt: Airports are licensed federally. Do you not have a jurisdiction there, then, because they're not provincial?
Mr Coulson: No, the airports were federal as well. There was never any direct involvement by our organization either. The standards that were being developed were being developed at the federal level and not the provincial level.
Mr Galt: But the fire marshal's office doesn't fit in there?
Mr Coulson: To this point, no. Our service, as I mentioned at the start, is to municipalities. We provide advice and assistance to municipal governments, municipal fire departments, and certainly provide fire prevention advice to other government ministries, but our focus has been municipal.
Mr Galt: Municipal and anything that has to do with provincial, but if it's federal, it's another jurisdiction.
Mr Coulson: We've never been directly involved. We haven't had the authority.
Mr Galt: Okay. I think it's starting to make a little more sense. Thank you.
My other problem relates to Plastimet and the fire that occurred there. It is my understanding, having read some of that report, not in detail, but some of the fire marshal's report on that particular fire in Hamilton, that first it occurred because the sprinklers were requested and the fire marshal's office told them to put them in, but they didn't put them in. A fire occurred and the plant burned down. Then the report came back and basically said it was a problem of the Ministry of Environment because they didn't force the fire marshal to enforce their regulations. I find that a little difficult to follow, yet that's what I read in the report.
Do I go with the same logic if we have a fire in a nuclear plant, that the Minister of Energy may get blamed because he didn't force the fire marshal's office to enforce some regulation in one of those plants? I know it's twisted logic, but that's what I read in the Plastimet report.
Mr Coulson: My understanding is that they couldn't enforce this because we have no jurisdiction in this case. We have no jurisdiction, so the Ministry of Environment couldn't ask us to become directly involved until we had the jurisdiction to be in there. To the best of our understanding, and we clarified it again today, and to the best of our knowledge we don't have jurisdiction to be in there.
Mr Galt: In the nuclear plant.
Mr Coulson: In a nuclear plant. That's correct.
Mr Galt: My line of thinking with the Plastimet fire is that it's the Ministry of Environment's responsibility to force the fire marshal to enforce their regulations. Does that carry anyplace else in fire prevention?
Mr Coulson: I'll defer to Joshy on that.
Mr Kallungal: I guess with this fire at Plastimet, the municipality has the jurisdiction with respect to enforcing the Ontario fire code in a Plastimet-type plant. In fact, the municipality had conducted inspections and found a number of deficiencies. One of the deficiencies they noted was the installation of sprinkler systems. They were working with the owners in trying to get compliance. It's at that time the fire occurred. I just could not see how the Ministry of Environment relationship came with the fire marshal. I haven't heard that myself.
Mr Galt: Read the report.
Mr Kallungal: In fact I wrote some of the report. I just can't see that logic at all in that report. I don't see it that way.
Mr Galt: Thank you very much. I'm thrilled to hear your comment. I'll pass to Mr O'Toole.
Mr O'Toole: Welcome. I have a few questions. The first questions will be to the fire chief. You said you've had 19 drills. I guess the drills you have are fairly regular and pretty much at the site. At the Pickering site, is it a volunteer, kind of part-time force at the site itself?
Mr Pearsall: Within the plant?
Mr O'Toole: Within the plant, yes.
Mr Pearsall: Yes, I believe they are.
Mr O'Toole: That TV show was fairly critical. It sort of sounded like they didn't have any -- are they trained to the same level as your people or a common level specifically to that particular site of possible incident?
Mr Pearsall: I wouldn't know the level of their training. We're trained to the fire marshal's standard.
Mr O'Toole: So the volunteers are not trained to the same standard?
Mr Pearsall: Not necessarily within the plant, no.
Mr O'Toole: It's my understanding that you have a very good cooperative relationship with them. Do you have a single-point contact with Ontario Hydro, Pickering?
Mr Pearsall: Yes, I do.
Mr O'Toole: So you're very familiar with the protocols. Are you called for every small incident or is there a particular point in an incident where you would be called? How does that work?
Mr Pearsall: We probably are very unique. We are called every time there is an alarm within the plant proper.
Mr O'Toole: You would send a first-tier response. There were 34 calls, according to the discussion we had with the previous group. What's your recollection of those 34 calls? Were there any fires of any significant nature in those 34 calls?
Mr Pearsall: No. We had approximately five electrical fires, one computer fire, one smoke-visible type of alarm.
Mr O'Toole: And one smoking; I think they told us that.
I'm in receipt of the emergency plan and this is a plan that's worked out in cooperation with the municipality. Is it worked out with the region?
Mr Pearsall: Yes.
Mr O'Toole: To what statutes or regulations does it conform, whose protocol? Is it the region? Is it AECB? Who actually approves the plan?
Mr Pearsall: I believe the provincial government is the regulator.
Mr O'Toole: If I may, this is fairly important. I want to establish a point here.
The Chair: They all are, but you have time for one more.
Mr O'Toole: This plan, I see, was revised September 1994. If I look at the incident report or the report we have in our possession, it showed that in 1994 they had a significant event that perhaps wasn't managed properly. Did that mean this report was written as a result of trying to upgrade some kind of emergency procedures? That was a significant event. There didn't seem to be any communication at that time through the regional chair or the mayors and other police forces. Why did that system not work? It's my understanding it didn't work in 1994.
Mr Pearsall: There's no connection between the two of them.
Mr O'Toole: It just happens to be the same time.
The Chair: Thank you, Mr O'Toole. That was an important question and I appreciate that. We'll move over to Mr Conway.
Mr Conway: What was important about that last question is it kept Ms Johns from getting on, but we'll solve that problem later.
Chief and colleagues, delighted to see you on this winter night. It's been mentioned by a few of the previous questioners that the committee has had some interest in the CBC program that ran the other night. Chief, I've got to ask you, has your phone been at all busy in the last 10 days by virtue of people calling from across Durham region wondering what, if anything, you think about the program? Have you had many calls?
Mr Pearsall: I've had approximately four calls: two from this gentleman and two from this one.
Mr Conway: A very helpful answer. So it's not something that set your phone a-ringing?
Mr Pearsall: Not to my knowledge.
Mr Conway: You're the chief.
Mr Quinn: If I could just add something to this, as the CAO of Pickering, we are obviously very concerned about the 30-minute CBC film. It's very important that this is impressed on you. We are the fourth-tier government system and we will be sitting down with Durham region and expecting, obviously, some sort of response back to what has been produced as a national TV production. I ended up with a copy of it today by CBC, and the chief had an opportunity to review that documentation today.
Mr Conway: It's not the first time we've been treated to a report about the emergency preparedness and some of the fire issues. I guess the fire issues that were raised on the CBC telecast were more pointed this time than I can recall their having been in the past. I live not far from the Chalk River area and we've had a number of concerns raised about emergency preparedness around those reactor sites, though they're much smaller, obviously, than the ones in Durham region.
I want to basically get to my one question and one concern. My colleague Mr Kwinter has some questions and I want to make sure he has an opportunity to get to them.
Throughout much of these hearings we have been told by everyone, including Hydro, that one of the problems they've had is accountability and responsibility, that it was a confused chain of command, a divided chain of command, that the buck didn't seem to stop at any particular place. One of the concerns I have on this issue of fire protection -- I've listened carefully to what you've had to say today, I listened carefully to the Atomic Energy Control Board, and I'm almost a bit annoyed because this is just one of those nicely divided jurisdictions. Particularly to the fire marshal -- I know you're in a tough spot -- the impression I get is that it's not only divided but is almost divided so that just nobody will be fully responsible for anything, and therefore we'll have a situation where, if anything does go wrong, the Legislature and the community will spend most of their time running around in circles trying to figure out to whom the blame belongs and in what measure.
The fire marshal's office would be expected, I think by most people in the province, to have a general responsibility, accepting that there is a federal regulation of the reactor sites. I don't think that's an issue. If I lived out in Durham region or up in the Bruce or in my part of eastern Ontario where we've got a couple of research reactors, I would expect the fire marshal's office to be more involved than it appears to be. Are you planning, in the new scheme of things, Mr Fire Marshal's representative, to work towards reducing that confusion and division that seem to be there at the present time?
Mr Coulson: I don't know how much we can do about some of the jurisdictions there, but certainly as an office we are moving towards taking a more proactive role in seeing that public fire safety issues are dealt with. In this case, as the chief said, I did call him. In the past our office would have waited for the municipality to call us. That's the way the rules were under the previous legislation. Once Bill 84 is finally proclaimed, we will be able to take a more proactive role. Our primary focus will be public safety, but certainly working with the local fire departments and local municipalities.
I mentioned at the start that we had done some work with Darlington, with the local fire service, trying to support them as best we could in their process, and to the best of my knowledge that went well and things are working well there. I made the approach to the fire chief with some suggestions as well that were there in the interest of public safety.
Mr Conway: That's all well and good. I was saying earlier today that I'm one of those people who read Mr Justice Campbell's report about the policing around that famous Homolka matter and I was then and still am furious about divided jurisdiction. It concerns me. I look at something like this and say to myself, "The fire marshal's office has a great deal of power." It's not clear to me that the fire marshal of Ontario is very anxious about exercising that power in regard to this whole issue about public safety around these nuclear power plants.
My final question is, what specific measures would you recommend to the fire marshal and the Legislature as to how you might increase and enhance your activity to deal with public concerns as they arise around these issues of fire protection at or near nuclear power plants?
Mr Coulson: One of the areas we are following up, as we speak, and we dealt with this afternoon, is we are seeking greater clarification on our role and how we can become involved in these jurisdictions that seem to be beyond us. It certainly is the will of the fire marshal to clarify that, because he does have a genuine interest in public fire safety and he wants to be able to take action in the interest of public fire safety. We are following up on that through our legal branch. He wants clarification because he shares your same concern that the buck has to stop someplace.
Mr Conway: What needs to be clarified? I've got to get to Kwinter here in a moment. I'm a citizen and I'm living in Bowmanville or in Pickering. What is it that needs to be clarified that gives you a greater comfort and authority to move forward in the public interest to provide higher levels of safety on these issues?
Mr Coulson: We need the legalities to be clarified so we know when we can act, and the limits of our authority once we do go on site if in fact we can go on site.
Mr Conway: All right.
Mr Kwinter: Mr Coulson, I want to pursue that area. At the present time you have no jurisdiction or authority to go into the facility on any matters dealing with fire safety. Is that correct?
Mr Coulson: That's our current understanding from legal today.
Mr Kwinter: Chief, you have no authority to go in there either. You can be invited in. You have a cooperative arrangement with Hydro where you help each other. But basically you have no authority to go in there unless you're invited in. Is that correct?
Mr Pearsall: That's correct.
Mr Kwinter: From my understanding of what we heard over the last few weeks, the AECB licences, sets the criteria, but doesn't micro-manage the facility either. We've had a record of recommendations that they have made over years. At one stage we heard that 40% of the recommendations had really been addressed, some of them outstanding as long as seven years.
We have a situation where there's really nobody who has jurisdiction over Ontario Hydro Nuclear other than them, so if they choose not to invite you in -- you say that you have responded to every incident because they've informed you of that. But don't both of you feel, and you've addressed part of it, that something is wrong, that the people who are potentially creating the problem also have -- there's no overseeing body that has teeth. There are all kinds of people writing reports and telling them, "You've got to do this," and putting them on short licences, but they really control their own destiny, and if they choose to ignore it, they will ignore it. Is that a fair assumption?
Mr Pearsall: Yes.
Mr Kwinter: Does that concern you?
Mr Pearsall: Yes.
Mr Kwinter: Have you made representations through the fire marshal's office, or to anybody, to see if what I think is a huge imbalance and a huge potential problem can be addressed?
Mr Pearsall: I thought we were getting to that through our Durham emergency measures organization, where we're trying to turn the tide back so we have more authority in an incident. On making representations to the fire marshal, no, I have not done so.
Mr Kwinter: What is the response of the administration of Pickering? How do they feel about this?
Mr Quinn: I have been with the municipality for 28 years and at the very beginning the municipality had no ownership in the plant. The plant was there in the early 1970s. We were part of the town or township of Pickering. Regional government came along and we worked through regional government. The fire chief works with the fire marshal as a governing body, and we also work through the building code and different things like that.
I think with what has happened of late, in Pickering we are very concerned. Certainly my council, members of council -- the mayor of Pickering I believe is going to be doing a presentation to this committee next week -- are concerned.
A number of things have happened in the last while. There is the concern about where everything lies and the credibility of what happens. A couple of minutes ago it was asked when this plan was written. This plan was written for Exercise '95, and shortly I think before that exercise or right around that time there was a major problem in the plant. All the procedures of the plant and what was worked out with Durham region: Nothing took place. That was a review that has been done and that's why a number of things have taken place since then.
But as for the administration of the town on what has unfolded over the last year or two or greater, yes, Pickering is very concerned and that's why I'm here tonight. We work through the fire marshal.
The Chair: Thank you, Mr Kwinter. I appreciated that.
Just a couple of questions. Mr Quinn, I'll just ask you: I have this document before me that is an affidavit.
Mr Quinn: That's right.
The Chair: Do you recognize that?
Mr Quinn: That was given to me today by one of the members of council, Councillor Brenner of Pickering.
The Chair: We have time for one more question, to go around. Mrs Johns is on first for a question to go around and then I'll come back. I ask you to please be very brief because of the time. I have a couple of wrap-up comments to make.
Mrs Johns: Speaking of this affidavit, this was actually my question --
The Chair: Oh, I apologize. I thought had passed to the end. Mr Laughren is first. I'm sorry. Mr Laughren, one question, please.
Mr Laughren: I just had one question actually, and it had to do with the point when I asked Chief Pearsall about being able to notify the community in case of a serious problem. I was left pondering whose responsibility it is to ensure the ability to do that is in place. I would have thought it was the fire marshal's office, but I'm not sure at all of that.
Mr Pearsall: That's being handled through the Durham emergency measures organization because they will be the key player below the province in an incident at the plant, so it would be their responsibility.
Mr Laughren: But if it's not in place, if it isn't satisfactory, whose responsibility is that?
Mr Pearsall: We're working on it presently to bring it up to a standard where we will have it.
Mr Laughren: So it's your responsibility?
Mr Pearsall: We're working on it with them, yes.
Mr Laughren: Okay.
Mrs Johns: I have a question about this affidavit, prepared by Maurice Brenner I guess. Basically it says in number two, "I reviewed the binder with Gerald Brown." Is that the famous Gerald Brown of the CBC show?
Mr Quinn: I believe so.
Mrs Johns: Could I assume from this that Mr Brenner called the CBC and that's how this show came about?
Mr Quinn: I don't know that. Councillor Brenner is here tonight. You could ask him that question directly.
Mrs Johns: I think we have a different question that we'd like to ask.
Mr O'Toole: Is the town of Pickering a willing host, a friendly host, with Ontario Hydro Nuclear?
Mr Quinn: Who are you asking that to?
Mr O'Toole: Whoever wishes to just answer it: you, the chief or -- it's not a loaded question.
Mr Quinn: No, I know that.
Mr O'Toole: Is there some dysfunctional connection or communication?
Mr Quinn: Yes, there is.
Mr O'Toole: If you look at that particular incident, as it's been reported, 34, five of which were cigarette fires, is this a good signal to develop an emergency plan and get wider and fuller cooperation with the support of the fire marshal, the municipality, the region, and as you say, you're the fourth tier on the leg? This show may have been a positive opportunity to bring it to light, to resolve and set up proper communication channels.
Mr Quinn: I think the show brought a number of things to light, a lot of things that everybody's trying to answer now. Certainly even with the 30 fires, I asked my chief that the very next day, "Did we have 30 fires?" because I don't remember 30 phone calls from this man to me. He's supposed to phone me right away and I'm supposed to be notified by Durham region nuclear awareness, and I was not.
Having a tar fire in an administration building is not a fire in the plant so that we have a nuclear catastrophe taking place, or having an ashtray or a sprinkler broken -- that's not a fire, but obviously because of the nature of the facility that's in our community, the whole fire department goes down there because we never know what it's going to be like.
Mr O'Toole: I appreciate the indulgence of the Chair --
The Chair: Well, I'm not indulging much longer, Mr O'Toole.
Mr O'Toole: Being from Durham region and a resident, I'm familiar with the maps and the evacuation strategies. I think that is just: Take what has happened in the past as a lesson, whether it's in 1994 or this particular bad news for Durham region. I don't think it's particularly positive news for Hydro. I think it's an opportunity for both the fire marshal and you as a municipality and the region to have some clear, connected responsibilities in the event of any emergency. I would direct that question to the chief of --
The Chair: No, there is no question, Mr O'Toole, but I appreciate that. A Shea is going to separate a Quinn and an O'Toole right now. We'll move on to Mr Kwinter.
Mr Kwinter: We've spent some time addressing safety issues. We haven't talked at all about security issues. I'm wondering if the municipality of Pickering has concerns about the security aspects of having that nuclear facility in your community.
Mr Quinn: Do you want to ask the chief that? No, sorry. If I think of what has happened lately, yes, we do. As 1996 and 1997 are unfolding with the plant operation, we are more concerned today than we've ever been concerned. Has security per se been a real issue? No, not up until now. I think the 30-minute program the other day has thrown a different perspective on a lot of things.
The Chair: Thank you very much. Just before you go, Mr Coulson, may I ask you to clarify an image that has been left in my mind? It involves jurisdictions. I recognize you are not a parliamentary individual and this is a matter of constitutional dialogue, but I have the impression at this point, according to your evidence, that you have not formal authority to enter a federal facility such as the nuclear site; you are to be invited.
Mr Coulson: Yes. That's our understanding at this point. We are trying to clarify that.
The Chair: This is nothing new, I gather; this has been an interpretation of the Ontario fire marshal's office for some years. Would that be true?
Mr Coulson: Would you run that by me again, please?
The Chair: Let me say it again. The view that you have right now of your position vis-à-vis a federal facility is no different than the view that was taken by the fire marshal, say, five years ago, 10 years ago?
Mr Coulson: Up until this point, no. It was deemed to be a federal property under federal jurisdiction, and unless invited, we had no right to enter.
The Chair: So it would be reasonable to assume that five years ago or 10 years ago, the imagery in my mind of the fire marshal standing outside the gates at a nuclear facility with a bowl of porridge, saying, "Please may I have more?" is true. It was still there; you were waiting for an invitation to go in.
Mr Coulson: We had no occasion to believe we should be invited in because we felt it was under the jurisdiction and licensing of another agency.
The Chair: The licensing being the AECB.
Mr Coulson: That's correct.
The Chair: I see. They were the ones who were supposed to have total carriage of that and you didn't concern yourself about that issue; that wasn't your area to be concerned about.
Mr Coulson: That's correct. We felt the fire matters fell under that jurisdiction and were being addressed.
The Chair: The same way you would view airports?
Mr Coulson: Up until recently, yes.
The Chair: Until the recent changes. I suppose it is even the way you would view post offices.
Mr Coulson: That's correct.
The Chair: And the way you would even view the House of Commons.
Mr Galt: Or federal prisons.
Mr Coulson: That's correct.
The Chair: So federal property falls under that umbrella, and the provincial jurisdiction stops at the perimeter.
Mr Coulson: Unless invited in, yes.
The Chair: Unless invited in, and you have never been invited in, to your knowledge.
Mr Coulson: To my knowledge, not at Pickering. I don't believe we've been invited into Pickering.
The Chair: So the AECB has not taken any steps over a number of years to work out any accord with the Ontario fire marshal's office.
Mr Coulson: Not to my knowledge. The only ones where I know there has been some involvement -- we have provided advice to Ontario Hydro on some matters and certainly worked cooperatively with fire departments and Ontario Hydro in Darlington, I know for sure, and I believe there was some interaction in Bruce.
The Chair: I appreciate that. I think that concludes my requests, and I think that concludes the testimony. I appreciate the testimony of the witnesses this evening, and I hope that if the committee has more questions, you'll be prepared to either wait upon the committee or respond in writing, as necessary.
Mr Coulson: Yes, that's correct.
The Chair: Thank you very much for your time this evening. I appreciate your evidence very much. You may be excused.
I will remind the committee, it being almost 2100 hours -- that's 9 o'clock, Mr Kwinter. I know you were working it out on your thumbs; it works better for some than for others. I will remind you that we will gather tomorrow morning at 0900, at 9 am, here in this committee room, for the first half-hour in camera, and then we will begin with the agenda of the day, which will be dealing with the very heart of the matter, and that is the recovery plan.
It being the hour, the committee stands adjourned.
The committee adjourned at 2056.