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The Nuclear Liability and Compensation Act

In February 2015, the Nuclear Liability and Compensation Act (NLCA) received Royal Assent, replacing the 1976 Nuclear Liability Act. On May 18, 2016, the Nuclear Liability and Compensation Regulations (the Regulations) were published in the Canada Gazette, Part II, and on January 1, 2017 both the NLCA and the Regulations came into force. For more information on the NLCA, including Canadian nuclear installations and related liability amounts and nuclear insurance, visit Natural Resources Canada.

Key features of the NLCA include:

  • strengthening the compensation and civil liability regime for damages that result from a nuclear accident
  • increasing a nuclear operator’s liability for damage from $75 million to $1 billion
  • designating “nuclear installations” and their respective liability amounts
  • maintaining that no person other than the operator is held responsible and accountableto the Canadian public for nuclear incidents that cause damage, and for which an operator is liable under this act

The NLCA applies to nuclear facilities designated as nuclear installations. These include:

  • nuclear power plants
  • nuclear research reactors
  • nuclear material processing plants
  • facilities used to manage nuclear fuel waste and other radioactive waste

The NLCA does not apply to facilities such as uranium mines, refineries using natural uranium, and hospital nuclear laboratories.

Liability limits

For nuclear power plants, the operator’s liability limit is $650 million, rising to $1 billion over a three-year transition period.

For all other nuclear installations (such as nuclear research reactors, fuel fabrication facilities and nuclear fuel waste management facilities) the Regulations define the classes of nuclear installations and specify lower operator liability limits, reflecting the risk of each installation.

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission has acted in an advisory role to the Minister of Natural Resources on the designation of facilities under these Regulations, including the classes of facilities and their definitions. Natural Resources Canada will oversee the enforcement of the Regulations, and the Minister of Natural Resources will be responsible for all issues related to operators’ financial responsibility pursuant to the NLCA.

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