All nuclear facilities and activities in Canada are governed by the Nuclear Safety and Control Act (NSCA), which came into force in 2000.
The role of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) is to make sure the NSCA and its related regulations are followed. The NSCA and its regulations are designed to protect the public, the people who work in the nuclear sector, and our environment.
CNSC works with provincial and territorial regulatory bodies with respect to environmental and radiation protection. A number of other Government of Canada departments also play a role in protecting Canadians. The CNSC collaborates with Natural Resources Canada, Environment Canada, Health Canada, Transport Canada, National Defence and the Canadian Forces and Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada to regulate Canadian nuclear facilities and activities.
Regulating licensees, organizations and facilities
Through the Nuclear Safety and Control Act, the CNSC regulates licensees and organizations that produce, use, store or transport nuclear materials in Canada.
When people think of nuclear facilities, they most often think of nuclear power plants. But there are many other facilities in the nuclear sector regulated by the CNSC. Other sectors include uranium mines and mills, processing and research facilities, nuclear substances and radiation devices, and radioactive waste and waste management facilities.
CNSC regulates activities that take place in nuclear facilities across Canada. CNSC's goal is to ensure the protection of workers’ safety and health. The activities include security, dosimetry, packaging and transport of nuclear substances, and the import and export of nuclear substances.
For example, the Canadian Radiation Protection Regulationsset limits on the amount of radiation the public and nuclear energy workers can receive. It requires that every licensee implement a radiation protection program that keeps the amount of exposure to ionizing radiation as low as reasonably achievable (ALARA). Dose limits are defined in the Radiation Protection Regulations.
Nuclear facilities in Canada must have qualified personnel to carry out operations according to the Nuclear Safety and Control Act and its regulations. The CNSC verifies the competency of radiation protection personnel to ensure they are capable of performing the duties stated in the licences.
Canada’s nuclear safety standards are benchmarked against international standards. To do this, CNSC relies on the work of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and other organizations such as the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) and the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP), as well as Health Canada and Environment Canada.
With the cooperation of its member states, the IAEA publishes a number of international standards, including standards for nuclear non-proliferation. CNSC’s standards and best practices in this area respect IAEA’s standards.
In the area of nuclear non-proliferation, CNSC is responsible for implementing on behalf of the Government of Canada two policy objectives. These objectives assure Canadians and the international community that our country’s nuclear exports do not contribute to the development of nuclear weapons or nuclear explosive devices; and, they promote a more effective and comprehensive international nuclear non-proliferation regime.
Read more about nuclear safety.
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