A regulatory and oversight role

As the sole body responsible for regulating the nuclear industry, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) licenses, regulates and sets out the requirements for all nuclear facilities and activities in Canada.

Whether it is uranium mining, power generation, industrial and medical applications of nuclear materials or waste management, CNSC staff oversee all licensed nuclear activities and facilities to make sure that licensees are meeting their licence conditions.

Safety first

All major Canadian nuclear facilities are designed and operated with the “defence-in-depth” principle in mind. Defence in depth is the implementation of multiple layers of defence in safety systems and programs that keep facilities and workers safe, and would minimize consequences should an accident occur. The CNSC’s strict oversight of these facilities, which includes onsite inspections, ensures licensees are operating safely.

"CNSC staff carry out regular onsite inspections and review licensee activities and documentation."

Compliance and enforcement

Assuring that licensees are in compliance with legislation, regulations and licensing requirements is one of the CNSC's core business processes, and is carried out by our expert staff through compliance verification and enforcement.

To verify that licensees are complying with laws and regulations, as well as the conditions of their license, CNSC staff carry out regular onsite inspections and review licensee activities and documentation. They also conduct investigations of unplanned events or accidents involving nuclear materials or substances, as well as collect field samples and analyze them in our laboratory.

In addition, the CNSC requires its licensees to provide it with routine performance data and to report all unusual occurrences or unplanned events to the public – the only regulator to have this requirement. Together, these activities enable the CNSC to provide assurances to Canadians of licensees’ continuing compliance and safety performance.

Graduated approach to enforcement

To encourage compliance, the CNSC uses a graduated approach to enforcement. Enforcement actions can go from written notices and administrative monetary penalties to orders and decertification, and potentially prosecution for regulatory offences. If the initial enforcement action does not result in timely compliance, other actions are used.

The CNSC’s overarching key priority is, and always will be, to ensure the safe use of nuclear activities and materials in Canada. We continue to focus on our core regulatory licensing and compliance work, uphold our commitment to ongoing improvements, ensure the clarity of our requirements and capacity for action, and provide clear, concise, accurate and timely communications.

We will never compromise on the protection of the health and security of Canadians and the environment, or on our international non-proliferation commitments. We will continue to disseminate objective scientific, technical and regulatory information to the public through our many outreach activities.

The vision for the CNSC has always been to be the best nuclear regulator in the world. All regulators should aim this high. It is through constant vigilance that you avoid complacency.