The goals of nuclear emergency preparedness and response are to protect the public from immediate or delayed health effects due to exposure to uncontrolled sources of ionizing radiation, and to mitigate the impacts of a nuclear emergency on property and the environment.
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Nuclear emergency preparedness includes all activities done before an emergency happens to ensure that people and groups are ready and able to respond quickly and appropriately when an emergency happens. This includes activities such as:
In Canada, responsibility for nuclear emergency preparedness and response rests with each level of government: local, municipal, provincial, and federal. Responsibility also exists to the international community through International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) conventions .
The operators of nuclear facilities are responsible for emergency preparedness and response on the site of their nuclear facilities.
Municipal governments are responsible for managing and conducting emergency operations within their boundaries. They are also responsible for providing first responders, such as fire departments and ambulances, to the emergency site.
Provincial governments have the primary responsibility for protecting public health and safety, property and the environment within their borders.
In the event of a nuclear emergency, the federal government is responsible for:
Health Canada has the lead role in the federal response to a peacetime nuclear or radiological emergency, which is outlined in the Federal Nuclear Emergency Plan .
Canada has an international responsibility in the event of a nuclear emergency. A member of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) since its inception in 1957, Canada is a signatory on both the Convention on Early Notification of a Nuclear Accident (IAEA: 1987) and the Convention on Assistance in the Case of a Nuclear Accident or Radiological Emergency (IAEA: 1996). These conventions ensure international notification as well as mutual assistance between signatory countries.
These areas of responsibility are not mutually exclusive. If the incident is too severe for one level of responsibility to adequately address, the next level will step in as requested and required. All levels of responsibility have a commitment to the health and safety of Canadians and the environment.