Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission

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The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) regulates the use of nuclear energy and materials to protect the health, safety and security of Canadians and the environment; and to implement Canada's international commitments on the peaceful use of nuclear energy.

Under the Nuclear Safety and Control Act,[1] CNSC's mandate involves four major areas:

  • regulating the development, production and use of nuclear energy in Canada to protect health, safety and the environment
  • regulating the production, possession, use and transport of nuclear substances, and the production, possession and use of prescribed equipment and prescribed information
  • implementing measures respecting international control of the development, production, transport and use of nuclear energy and substances, including measures respecting the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons and nuclear explosive devices
  • disseminating scientific, technical and regulatory information concerning the activities of CNSC, and the effects on the environment, on the health and safety of persons, of the development, production, possession, transport and use of nuclear substances

In 2011, the CNSC marked its 65th anniversary as Canada's independent nuclear regulator.


CNSC was established in 2000 under the Nuclear Safety and Control Act and reports to Parliament through the Minister of Natural Resources. CNSC was created to replace the former Atomic Energy Control Board (AECB), which was founded in 1946.

Canada’s nuclear history is a compelling story of industrial and medical research, uranium and radium mining, and nuclear power plant development. It’s the story of the people involved in these nuclear activities and in developing the safe use of nuclear substances. It’s also the story of many “firsts” for Canada in the world.

For an online interactive tour through Canada’s nuclear history, visit the CNSC’s Historical Timeline .[2]

Independent Commission[edit]

The Commission is an independent administrative tribunal set up at arm’s length from government, with no ties to the nuclear industry.

CNSC's Commission has up to seven permanent members that are appointed by the Governor in Council based on their qualifications and expertise. Members are appointed on a permanent, part-time basis, meaning they also have individual jobs. Temporary members can also be appointed to the Commission.

The President of the Commission is appointed to hold office as a Commission member on a full-time rather than a part-time basis and is also designated by the Governor in Council to hold office as President of the CNSC.

The Commission is supported by more than 800 scientific, technical and professional staff. These employees review applications for licences according to regulatory requirements, make recommendations to the Commission, and enforce compliance with the Nuclear Safety and Control Act, regulations, and any licence conditions imposed by the Commission.

The Commission makes its decisions transparently, guided by clear rules of procedure .[3]

Interested parties and members of the public are able to be heard at Public Commission Hearings [4] which are Webcast live and often held in facility host communities to make them as accessible as possible to local residents.

The Commission provides extensive reasons for its decisions, which are based on information that includes public input as well as the recommendations of expert CNSC staff. Decisions, hearing transcripts, webcast archives, and other documentation [5] are publicly available on the CNSC Web site, Facebook [6] and YouTube [7]

Regulated facilities and activities[edit]

Canada is one of the few countries that regulates the entire process of nuclear lifecycle, from fuel production to power generation. This includes uranium mines and mills,[8] uranium processing and fuel fabrication,[9] research reactors,[10] nuclear power plants,[11] nuclear substance processing,[12] nuclear substances and radiation devices,[13] and Canada's radioactive waste [14] The CNSC also makes sure that proper security measures are in place, as well as making sure nuclear sector workers' health is protected. The CNSC does this by regulating the packaging and transportation of nuclear substances and certifying key safety-related personnel.

Protecting the Environment[edit]

Protecting the environment is an important part of CNSC's work. During the licence application review process, CNSC determines whether an environmental assessment is required for a proposed project. Environmental assessments are used to predict the environmental effects of proposed initiatives before they are carried out.

CNSC then works with applicants throughout their environmental assessment process. For a project to proceed, CNSC must be satisfied that a project will not unduly harm the environment on which all life depends, taking into consideration the needs of both current and future generations.


Canada was the first country with substantial nuclear capability to reject nuclear weapons, and is actively involved in the international promotion of the peaceful use of nuclear energy.

The CNSC is responsible for implementing Canada’s international nuclear non-proliferation, safeguards and security obligations, in collaboration with the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development [15]

Implementing Canada’s international commitments on the peaceful use of nuclear energy has been a CNSC responsibility since the Atomic Energy Control Act was passed in 1946. Canada’s nuclear non-proliferation, safeguards and security obligations are key elements of Canada’s nuclear non-proliferation policy.

For more information about Canada’s international safety agreements, please see:

  • Nuclear Non-Proliferation [16]
  • Nuclear Materials Verification (Safeguards) [17]
  • International Committees and Groups [18]
  • Bilateral Cooperation [19]
  • Integrated Regulatory Review Service [20]

Read international reference reports and documents [21]

Education Resources[edit]

CNSC Online [22] CNSC 101 [23] Educational Resources [24]

External links[edit]

Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission [25]


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