Regulatory approach

The Canadian regulatory approach to the safety of RAW management is based on three principles: life cycle responsibility and licensing, in-depth defence, and multiple barriers.

The CNSC uses a comprehensive licensing system for the management of radioactive waste, which is regulated during its entire life cycle — from site preparation, construction and operation to decommissioning and, finally, abandonment. It is the licensee’s responsibility to demonstrate that a facility for RAW management can and will be operated safely throughout the lifetime of the facility. This step-wise approach requires a separate licence at each phase. The CNSC also requires early planning, as the appli­cation must submit all the relevant information associated with the site operation and decommissioning plans and financial assurance at the first stage. The outcome of the licensing process feeds back into the compliance program — to verify that the licensee fulfills the regulatory requirements.

The CNSC utilizes a harmonized or joint review approach with other federal, or provincial or territorial departments in such areas as health, environment, transport and labour. This approach allows for participation in the CNSC’ s assessment, licensing and compliance programs for waste management facilities.

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