The CNSC licenses, monitors and inspects nuclear facilities, including radioactive waste management facilities in order to protect the health, safety and security of Canadians and the environment. The CNSC operates within a modern and robust legislative and regulatory framework. This framework consists of laws passed by the Parliament of Canada that govern the regulation of activities of Canada's nuclear industry.
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The regulatory framework also includes instruments such as regulations, licences and regulatory documents. Consultation with the public, Indigenous communities and other stakeholders is an important part of the process for the CNSC in the development of regulatory tools and the framework. All draft documents are made available for public feedback and all comments are posted on the CNSC website. As Canada's nuclear regulator, the CNSC is responsible for licensing the management of radioactive waste, including its transport and storage.
Since all nuclear substances associated with licensed activities will eventually become radioactive waste, the safe long-term management of that radioactive waste is considered during the review process for any licensed activity or facility. CNSC staff actively participate in the development of international and national standards with respect to radioactive waste.
The policy outlines the philosophy and six principles that govern the CNSC's regulation of radioactive waste. It is fully consistent with the federal Radioactive Waste Policy Framework. P identifies the need for long-term management of radioactive and hazardous waste arising from licensed activities.
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The policy statement in P defines radioactive waste as any form of waste material containing a nuclear substance as defined in the NSCA. This definition is sufficiently comprehensive to include used fuel without any other special consideration. The policy indicates that, when making regulatory decisions about the management of radioactive waste, the CNSC will seek to achieve its objectives by considering certain key principles in the context of the facts and circumstances of each case, as follows:.
P also recognizes the CNSC's commitment to optimizing regulatory efforts, stating that the CNSC should consult and cooperate with provincial, national and international agencies to:. Under the CNSC's non-prescriptive approach to regulation, the applicant proposes a waste management approach, supported by scientifically defensible benchmarks.
The CNSC then assesses the proposal against existing regulatory requirements to ensure the health, safety and security of the public and the protection of the environment. Published in , CSA The radioactive waste classification system is organized according to the degree of containment and isolation required to ensure safety in the short and long terms.
The classification system also takes into consideration the hazard potential of different types of radioactive waste. In accordance with CNSC regulatory guide G, Decommissioning Planning for Licensed Activities , Class I nuclear facilities and uranium mines and mills licensees are required to keep decommissioning plans up to date throughout the lifecycle of a licensed activity. In addition, the CNSC requires that all licensees implement financial guarantees to cover the cost of decommissioning work resulting from the licensed activities.
Decommissioning plans that assume the need for post-closure licensing, monitoring, surveillance and maintenance of the decommissioned activities must include financial provisions for these actions. The PDP must be filed with the CNSC as early as possible in the lifecycle of the activity or facility and must be reviewed and updated:. In the case of nuclear facilities, specific requirements for decommissioning planning are set out in the CNSC regulations for Class I and Class II nuclear facilities and for uranium mines and mills.
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The PDP documents the preferred decommissioning strategy — whether it is prompt decommissioning, deferred decommissioning or in situ confinement — along with objectives at the end of decommissioning. The plan should be sufficiently detailed to assure the proposed approach is technically and financially feasible. It must also be in the interests of health, safety, security and environmental protection. The plan defines areas to be decommissioned, the general structure and the sequence of the principal decommissioning work envisioned, and it includes proposed strategies for managing all waste.
The licensee's financial guarantee must cover the projected cost of the waste management option proposed. The CSA Group standard, Decommissioning of Facilities Containing Nuclear Substances , states that strategies for waste management must consider and prioritize the recycling or reuse of equipment and materials to reduce the volume of radioactive waste.
Minimizing radioactive waste is also a key principle in the CSA standard on the management of low- and intermediate-level radioactive waste which specifically refers to the development of a waste management program to reduce the overall volume of radioactive waste requiring long-term management. The program may include features such as delay and decay, as well as conditional and unconditional clearance.
Decommissioning strategies are not prescribed by the CNSC.
Proponents must propose their preferred strategy as part of their PDP and must support it with a safety case. Any proposed decommissioning strategy will be assessed by the CNSC against regulatory requirements to ensure the protection of health and safety of the public and the environment. The following preliminary decommissioning plans for nuclear power plants and associated waste management facilities are available to the public and posted on the licensees' websites:.
Canada is a signatory to the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management Joint Convention , an international agreement governing all aspects of spent fuel and radioactive waste management. The Joint Convention is a legally binding treaty that aims to ensure worldwide safe management of radioactive waste.
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