Introduction to the Federal Nuclear Emergency Plan (FNEP)
Aim of the FNEP
The aim of the FNEP is to provide the structure for federal nuclear emergency preparedness and response in order to:
- protect the public from immediate and delayed health effects due to exposure to uncontrolled sources of radiation;
- minimise the impacts of a nuclear emergency on property and the environment; and
- maintain public confidence in the ability of responsible authorities to protect public health.
Content of the FNEP
The FNEP describes the federal government's preparedness and coordinated response to a nuclear emergency. Specifically, the FNEP:
- outlines the federal government's aim, authority, emergency organisation and concept of operations for handling a nuclear emergency;
- describes the framework of federal emergency preparedness policies, the planning principles on which the FNEP is based, and the links with other relevant documents;
- describes the federal responsibilities of participating organisations that have a role to play in preparing for a nuclear emergency; and
- contains provincial annexes that describe the interface between the federal and provincial emergency management organisations.
The FNEP and the Provinces
Health Canada coordinates federal operations with provincial and territorial operations as required. The FNEP includes provincial annexes for Ontario, Québec, and New Brunswick as they have nuclear power stations, and with Nova Scotia and British Columbia as they have ports which are visited by nuclear-powered vessels. The FNEP also supports the provinces and territories without specific annexes as required.
Scope of the FNEP
The FNEP could be implemented in the event of a nuclear or radiological emergency involving:
- a nuclear facility in Canada or in the United States along the shared border;
- nuclear-powered vessels or vessels containing radioactive materials visiting Canada or in transit through Canadian waters;
- a nuclear facility in the southern United States or in a foreign country;
- any serious radiological event, such as:
- malevolent acts involving improvised nuclear devices or the use of conventional explosives at a facility that stores or uses radioactive materials; or
- the re-entry of a nuclear-powered satellite.
When the FNEP Would NOT be Implemented
The FNEP would not be implemented in the following situations:
- the military use of nuclear weapons against North America; that is, war;
- events at licensed nuclear facilities with limited or no radiological off-site impacts;
- events at licensed nuclear facilities that could lead or have led to a non-radiological hazard to the personnel at the facilities, the public, or the environment; or
- events involving the transportation of regulated quantities of radioactive material on Canadian land, or that could affect Canadian territory.
Terrorism and the FNEP
The 1993 National Counter-Terrorism Plan (NCTP), led by the Solicitor-General of Canada, is the basis for the national response to a terrorist threat on Canadian soil. In the event of a terrorist act involving radiological or nuclear devices, FNEP's Technical Advisory Group would support the NCTP by providing technical and operational advice on potential radiological impacts and protective actions.
The FNEP was conceived to coordinate the federal response to an uncontrolled release of radioactive materials from any source. The emergency preparedness and response framework described in the FNEP encompasses events that may arise from radiological terrorist acts and threats to the security of Canadian nuclear generating stations.