The quality requirements for the nuclear industry in Canada and internationally have been developed, refined and improved by teams of subject matter expert volunteers for more than 50 years. In the US, nuclear QA requirements evolved from a single origin (10 CFR50, Appendix B). Today there is a wide range of standards covering general quality assurance requirements (for example NQA-1, NCA-4000), standards for very specific requirements (for example ASME B31.1) and country specific standards (for example CSA N286).
As an early innovator in quality management systems, Canada developed the CSA Z299 set of standards. This set of standards became the defacto set of standards for Canadian nuclear suppliers in 1983 when they were adopted into the N286 standard. The set of Z299 standards continued to evolve during the 1980’s until their final reaffirmation in 2006.
The Z299 standards are similar to other quality assurance standards in many ways. But there is one significant distinction. The Z299 standards were structured in a way to establish a graded approach beginning at Z299.4 and advancing to the more stringent requirements of Z299.1. The graded approach allows the nuclear utilities and their tiered suppliers to evaluate the QA requirements for a specific application and apply the applicable level of quality assurance requirements to the procurement process. Over the past four decades until 2016, the Z299 quality assurance approach had become ingrained in the Canadian nuclear supply base.
In 2016 a new set of Canadian nuclear industry standards were released. Based on the Z299 graded approach, the N299 standards have been developed specifically for the nuclear industry and are aligned to the CANDU design basis. The N299 standard also incorporates operating experience, current best practices and a degree of alignment with other national and international nuclear quality assurance standards. Other significant additions to the 2016 standard are the incorporation of safety culture concepts; counterfeit, fraudulent and suspect item detection and prevention methods; additional requirements for software; and a significant expansion of the guidance on design. By April 2021 the N299 set of standards will be fully implemented.
In 2019 a new version of the N299 standard was released. One of the most significant changes in the new standard is the additional of Section 8. The N299 standard now includes the alternative acceptance method of dedication. The concept of dedication was developed in the US in the late 1970’s.
Canadian nuclear quality assurance standards are stronger than ever and the utilities and supply base are once again engaged in supporting, sustaining and developing a unique Canadian approach while at the same time aligning the Canadian approach to international best practices.