3-day nuclear exercise tests emergency response in Ontario

Provincial, federal and municipal governments along with the Ontario Power Generation (OPG) are working together for a mock emergency nuclear drill taking place May 26 to 28.
The drill, named Exercise Unified Response, is the first national, multi-jurisdictional, nuclear emergency response exercise conducted since 1999, and is an opportunity to validate emergency response plans and processes updated following the Fukushima incident in 2011.

The exercise will simulate an incident at the Darlington Nuclear Generation Station in the Regional Municipality of Durham in Ontario and will involve more than 50 agencies. The province, through the Office of the Fire Marshal and Emergency Management (OFMEM) is responsible for the Provincial Nuclear Emergency Response Plan. The OFMEM, working with provincial ministries is responsible for ensuring public safety, including informing the public and coordinating response efforts, such as evacuations outside the generating station.

The Regional Municipality of Durham and its municipalities are mandated by legislation to have emergency plans in place to respond to radiological incidents. They are responsible for alerting the public, conducting evacuations, housing evacuees and coordinating with, and receiving support from, the province.

In the unlikely event of an emergency at the Pickering or Darlington Nuclear Generating Stations, OPG is responsible for controlling the incident, managing onsite response efforts and ensuring that radiation releases are minimized. OPG is also responsible for the safety of its employees.

The exercise scenario calls for both on-the-ground activities and oversight from various operations centres in Durham Region, Toronto and Ottawa.

The Federal Nuclear Emergency Plan (FNEP) is developed and maintained by Health Canada in partnership with other departments. The country’s nuclear industry regulator, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC), also plays a key oversight role in emergency preparedness and response.