SLOWPOKE-2 Public Information Program and Disclosure Protocol

1. Objectives

The primary objective of the PIP is to communicate effectively the information relating to the health, safety and security of individuals and the environment linked to the operation of the SLOWPOKE-2 Facility at RMC and to explain Canada’s international obligations with respect to the peaceful use of nuclear energy.

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.

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 that contains natural radioactivity.

2. Target Audiences 

There are three groups within the target audience:

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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

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.  

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

Dissemination of information regarding 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 CNSC REGDOC-3.1.2.

Routine operations are described via print and electronic format.  All information transmitted to the various external media is processed by the Public Affairs Officer.  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.

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.

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.

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.

5. Public Disclosure Protocol

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.

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 focused on the uses of the reactor.

Public Disclosure Notification

The RMC Commandant (licensee) shall ensure that the CNSC is advised of non-routine disclosures made to the Target Group 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.

Documentation and Records

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

RMC’s Public Disclosure Protocol, as part of the PIPD, is in compliance with the CNSC REGDOC‑3.2.1 “Public Information and Disclosure”

6. Program Evaluation and Improvement Process

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.  The RMC Public Affairs Officer will assist with the evaluation process as many queries and tallies would normally come into the Public Affairs Office.

Feedback received shall be sent to the SLOWPOKE-2 Committee for action.

7. Contact Information

The overall authority for the Public Information Programme for the SLOWPOKE-2 reactor at the RMC is the Commandant via the RMC Public Affairs Officer at 613-541-6000 ext 6484.  Representatives of the news media formally employed as reporters and duly commissioned by a recognized news media organization are invited to submit their media queries electronically via Government of Canada Automated Media Interface. 

General information about the SLOWPOKE-2 Facility at RMC as well as contact information of the Facility Manager and Director can be found at the Facility's website.

Briefings and tours are carried by the SLOWPOKE-2 Director who can be reached by email: or by phone 613-541-6000 ext 3655.

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