SLOWPOKE-2 Public Disclosure Protocol

The purpose of the RMC Public Information Program is to disclose information in a transparent, consistent and timely manner in order to promote nuclear education and radiation safety.

The purpose of the Public Disclosure Protocol is to inform the public about the effects of the operation of the SLOWPOKE-2 reactor at RMC may have on the health and safety of the public and the environment by

  • communicating significant operational developments such as changes to facility design or operation and research findings;
  • communicating, as soon as reasonably possible, unplanned events exceeding regulatory limits or causing offsite effects or which could result in public or media interest or concern;
  • maintaining two-way communication channels for the public to interact with RMC with respect to the SLOWPOKE-2 Facility; and
  • consulting with the public to confirm types of information of public interest.

RMC’s Public Disclosure Protocol, as part of the PIPD, is in compliance with the CNSC RD/GD-99.3 “Public Information and Disclosure Guidance”.

Public Information Program (PIP) for the SLOWPOKE-2 Facility for RMC

1. Objectives

  1. The primary objective of the PIP is to protect the health, safety and security of individuals and the environment and to respect international obligations by Canada to the peaceful use of nuclear energy.
  2. An important secondary objective is to promote education with respect to the RMC SLOWPOKE-2 reactor within the Kingston community, in conjunction with communications planning and public affairs for the Royal Military College of Canada and the Department of National Defence.
  3. Disclosure of information is intended to inform the public and alleviate any concern with regard to nuclear matters. Examples are chosen from day to day experiences such as flying in aircraft, living in a house with concrete and eating food containing radioisotopes.

2. Target Audience(s):  There are three groups within the target audience.

  1. Audience I: On site RMC. Included in this group are all military and civilian employees, all undergraduate and postgraduate students (military and civilian), civilian contractors.
  2. Audience II: Off-site DND employees in Kingston to include those at CFB Kingston and elsewhere. This group includes the frequent visitors to RMC whose work bring them to the university.
  3. Audience III: General Public. Included within this group is the population in the Kingston area as well as those elsewhere, local government officials and community groups. 

3. Public and Media Opinion

  1. On a fairly regular basis, interested members of the public tour the Facility. On occasion, the media have been invited to the Facility. Individualised tours for members of the public and military staff are carried out regularly upon request. During celebratory events on campus, such as graduations, reunion weekends, conferences, the Facility may be open for guided tours. Off campus, the Facility is part of the annual province wide Science Rendezvous held at an Ontario university and publicised through radio, television, newspapers, posters and the WEB site.  
  2. Security policy of the Department of National Defence mandates special prior approval for media and for visitors from specifically identified DND-designated countries in advance of Facility tours. 

4. Public Information, Strategy and Products

The Public Information, Strategy and Products information includes a brief description of the SLOWPOKE-2 reactor at RMC and its function at RMC. It is a small, research, non-power, sealed-container, pool-type reactor built to sustain a chain fission reaction with the minimum amount of uranium fuel. The reactor is used for teaching and for research activities such as analysis of elements in materials and taking pictures using the reactor as a neutron source. The SLOWPOKE-2 reactor at RMC is regulated by the Canadian national regulator for nuclear matters, namely the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC).

The acronym “SLOWPOKE” stands for Safe LOW Power (K)ritical Experiment. There was a functioning 5 kW SLOWPOKE-1 reactor that underwent a name change when the reactor power was increased to the current 20 kW(thermal), commercial SLOWPOKE-2 reactor.

  1. On site RMC: Information re the reactor Facility is disseminated to the target group via several venues. These include the internal web site of the university, special individualised briefings for all contractors working in the vicinity of the reactor Facility. All undergraduate cadets and students shall undertake the special tour, briefing and laboratory devoted to education for radiation safety, reactor operations, and applications of nuclear technology in society. Any of this group whose work or studies require them to be in the vicinity of the reactor must undergo the special Radiation and Safety Training conducted by the Radiation Safety Officer.
  2. Off site DND employees: Information regarding the reactor shall be disseminated via various DND publications to include E Veritas, the CFB Kingston Newspaper, the DND newspaper The Maple Leaf, the DND safety newsletter, and the military internet system Defence Wide Area Network ‘DWAN’. E Veritas is a weekly publication by the RMC Club and is accessible online by the general public.
  3. General Public: Information shall be distributed by means of the SLOWPOKE-2 Facility website, a hand out brochure, invited tours by local and national print and television media, on-site international conference meetings with prior public advertising, tours for local fire and police personnel and educational groups by request and by invitation. All communication with external media will be coordinated through the RMC Public Affairs Officer to ensure strategic messaging coincides with defence messaging.  Messaging will include details provided by this Public Information Plan with regards to public safety and education.

5. Public Disclosure and Protocol

  1. Dissemination of information re the RMC reactor falls into two categories, viz. (i)  information regarding the routine operations and (ii) information regarding events both planned and unplanned. In general, the purpose of the RMC Public Information Program is to disclose information in a transparent and consistent manner in order to promote nuclear education and radiation safety. Events should be reported in accordance with Appendix E of the License Conditions Handbook.

    The Public Disclosure Protocol includes:

    • communicating significant operational developments such as changes to facility design or operation;
    • communicating, as soon as reasonably possible, unplanned events exceeding regulatory limits or causing offsite effects or which could result in public or media interest or concern;
    • maintaining two-way communication channels for the public to interact with RMC with respect to the SLOWPOKE-2 Facility; and
    • periodically consulting with the public to confirm types of information of public interest.
      1. Routine operations are described via print and electronic format.  All information transmitted to the various external media is processed by the Public Affairs Officer in the Office of the Commandant.  Routine operations are usually of interest only to the on-site RMC group. For the General Public group, this information is given verbally upon request. Normally all information regarding the RMC reactor is made available to the public. However, because the RMC is a unit within the Department of National Defence, the Commandant has the authority to deny the release of sensitive information such as that relating to security, labour relations, intellectual property, and financial details.      
      2. Planned events that include open houses and anniversary celebrations shall be advertised widely around the Kingston area in conjunction with Public Affairs Plan. Special celebrations are marked by the distribution of brochures and invitations to the print and television media on a case-by-case basis. Wide exposure shall be and is given on behalf of the SLOWPOKE Facility at appropriate international meetings of scientists and educators held in Kingston and elsewhere. 
      3. Media statements are issued following the processing of unplanned events such as broken water pipes and in some more serious cases the local print media would be invited for a tour. Statements must be coordinated through the RMC Public Affairs Officer and through a designated Subject Matter Expert.
      4. Nuclear engineering professors at RMC will provide media interviews regarding the effects of radiation worldwide following serious incidents or events. To date that has included the request to inform the public about the Fukushima incident through interviews on television and also the local newspaper.
  2. Guidance for Public Disclosure

    Guidance for public disclosure is based on in-house experience as a result of the public feedback when tours are provided and open houses are conducted. The Public Affairs Officer should be contacted if any disclosure of information is planned so that the Minister of Defence may be advised. Recently, the main interest by the public has focussed on the uses of the reactor.

  3. Public Disclosure Notification

    The RMC Commandant (licensee) shall ensure that the CNSC is advised of non-routine disclosures made to the Target Group (paras 2.2 and 2.3 above) at the time of or prior to such disclosure. For example, changes in laboratory schedules and in-house tours that require in-house disclosure would not normally be sent to the CNSC.

  4. Documentation and Records

    Documentation and records concerning disclosure shall be kept on file and ready for compliance verification by the CNSC.

6. Program Evaluation and Improvement Process

  1. Evaluation of the PIP shall be done via recording the various inquiries that arrive by direct discussion with the Director, by telephone and the tally of hits on the RMC WEB site (see para 7.1 below). The RMC Public Affairs Officer will assist with the evaluation process as many queries and tallies would normally come into the Public Affairs Office.
  2. Feedback received shall be sent to the SLOWPOKE-2 Committee for action.

7. Contact Information

  1. The overall authority for the Public Information Programme for the SLOWPOKE-2 reactor at the RMC is the Commandant via the Public Affairs Officer at 613-541-6000 ext 6484.  See also Media.  Alternately within this WEB site, enter SLOWPOKE in the search box.   
  2. Briefings and tours are carried by the SLOWPOKE-2 Director at 613-541-6000 ext 6385.
Date modified: