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What We Heard Report – DIS-14-02


Discussion papers play an important role in the selection and development of the regulatory framework and regulatory program of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC). They are used to solicit early feedback on CNSC policies or approaches.

The use of discussion papers early in the regulatory process underlines the CNSC’s commitment to a transparent consultation process. The CNSC analyzes and considers preliminary feedback when determining the type and nature of requirements and guidance to issue.


In summer 2014, the CNSC launched a regulatory modernization initiative to review its suite of 13 regulations. Although the CNSC regularly reviews individual regulations and makes amendments as needed, this exercise was broader in scope: It aimed to ensure that Canadians and CNSC-regulated parties continue to be supported by an effective, efficient and modern regulatory system that is both science-based and risk-informed.

Discussion paper DIS 14-02 did not propose specific regulatory changes. Rather, it sought early stakeholder input to help the CNSC assess the need to further refine its regulations and to identify priority areas for potential amendments.

Consultation process

The CNSC published DIS-14-02 for public comment on November 17, 2014 for an initial 120-day period. At the request of stakeholders, the consultation period was extended until May 29, 2015.

Comments were received from 14 organizations and individuals, and were posted on the CNSC website for feedback between June 19 and July 31, 2015.

Summary of stakeholder comments

A wide variety of comments were received in response to DIS 14-02. Some proposed very specific regulatory amendments, and others pointed to more general areas where further analysis may be beneficial. Many comments concerned areas that were not directly related to the administration of the CNSC’s 13 regulations.

Comments received fell into five general themes. Accompanying each theme below is an indication of how the CNSC will address the feedback received. Priority areas for further examination within the context of the regulatory modernization project and next steps are identified.

Theme 1: The role of regulatory documents and standards

Summary of comments:

Licensees generally supported clarifying the CNSC’s regulations through the use of regulatory documents and standards. However, a number of concerns were expressed about the use of regulatory documents as opposed to regulations to establish new requirements. Many respondents had the view that regulatory documents should be used to clarify existing requirements found in regulations, rather than to set new requirements.  Licensees also suggested that the CNSC increase early dialogue with stakeholders to ensure that the safety benefit of new regulatory documents would outweigh their implementation costs.

Moving forward:

The CNSC recognizes the need to clarify the role of regulatory documents within the licensing process, as well as to continue to increase dialogue about their potential impacts on stakeholders and their implementation strategies.

A number of initiatives are already underway to respond to the concerns raised. The use of Impact Statements was initiated during the regulatory document development process to better articulate the CNSC’s safety objectives for each document, and to request information about the potential impacts of different approaches for meeting those objectives.

Since the issues that were raised about regulatory documents and standards do not pertain to the CNSC’s suite of regulations, they will not be further addressed within the Regulatory Modernization project. However, the CNSC’s REGDOC-3.5.3, Regulatory Fundamentals, is in development and will further clarify the role of regulatory documents, guidance and requirements.

Theme 2: Licensing and licence conditions handbooks

Summary of comments:

While licence conditions handbooks (LCHs) are an effective regulatory tool to describe the expected performance of licensees, some examples illustrated potentially redundant expectations in the LCH.

Moving forward:

Comments did not point to a need for specific amendments to regulations in light of the CNSC’s approach to licensing and the use of LCHs. CNSC licensing divisions will examine specific issues.

Theme 3: Helping licensees understand how to comply with requirements

Summary of comments:

Respondents appreciated CNSC efforts to help licensees understand what they must do to comply with requirements. Workshops and outreach sessions, particularly those for Class II nuclear facilities, were highlighted as effective outreach mechanisms.

Moving forward:

Comments did not point to a need for specific amendments to regulations. The CNSC will continue efforts in this area through the implementation of its Interpretation Policy improvement plan.

Theme 4: Reducing regulatory overlap and improving consistency

Summary of comments:

Several examples of areas of shared regulatory responsibility between the CNSC and other federal or provincial regulators were described. Stakeholders expressed a preference to recognize where other authorities’ requirements were adequate, rather than duplicate requirements within CNSC licences.

Respondents from the uranium mining sector noted that efforts to harmonize requirements between mines and other nuclear facilities (e.g., nuclear power plants) may result in overlap and duplication with the mandates of other regulatory bodies governing the mining sector (i.e., provincial governments, Environment and Climate Change Canada). Respondents indicated that the CNSC could improve efficiency by focusing on regulatory oversight of radiological aspects and looking to equivalency or reduction in duplication with other federal and provincial authorities for other aspects of mine operation.

Moving forward:

The CNSC continues to pursue cooperative approaches with other federal regulators, including the Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Environment and Climate Change Canada, to reduce duplication and align requirements where possible. The CNSC is committed to these efforts, but it must also continue to assure the delivery of its mandate and fulfillment of its broad obligations under the Nuclear Safety and Control Act.

Theme 5: Proposed regulatory amendments

Summary of comments:

The CNSC received many specific proposals to amend its regulations to make them more efficient and effective.

Moving forward:

The CNSC agrees that many of the suggested regulatory amendments have merit, and warrant further consideration and discussion with stakeholders. In some cases, proceeding to regulatory amendments may be the appropriate next step; in other cases, other approaches may be the most efficient solution to address the underlying issue. The CNSC is committed to robust stakeholder consultation to confirm the course forward.

The CNSC routinely reviews its individual regulations and makes amendments as necessary. The regulatory modernization project is not intended to delay these reviews of individual regulations, and is running in parallel with some other regulatory reviews. Consequently, some of the suggestions made by stakeholders have already been addressed; for example, in the recent consultation on amendments to the Radiation Protection Regulations. In other cases, certain comments received will be best addressed in upcoming reviews of individual regulations, such as the Nuclear Security Regulations and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission Cost Recovery Fees Regulations, and have been noted for carry forward.

Based on feedback received, the CNSC considers the following areas of potential regulatory amendments to be the most important for further consideration and discussion with stakeholders as the regulatory modernization project proceeds:

  1. Incorporation by reference: Explore areas where reference documents (e.g., standards, data sets, etc.) could be incorporated into regulations on a static or ambulatory basis. This approach can be an effective way to manage information that requires frequent updating.
  2. Reduce duplication of requirements: Explore the degree of duplication between requirements in regulations and licences/LCHs. Verify that requirements are outlined in a consistent and appropriate manner.
  3. Review requirements for complex facilities. This may include considering whether requirements in regulations could be less prescriptive for some facilities, given the CNSC’s strong licensing approach. Further discussion with stakeholders is needed.
  4. Modernize application requirements for certain facility types: Updated application requirements may be needed for certain facility types, such as accelerators and waste facilities.
  5. Group similar requirements together: Stakeholders reported several sources of confusion between related or similar-sounding requirements found in different regulations; e.g. signage and labelling requirements found in multiple regulations. Further analysis and discussion is needed to determine if clarity could be improved by grouping similar requirements in one location in the regulations.
  6. Review requirements in regulations where no net safety benefit is perceived: Comments noted there may be some requirements in regulations which do not meet their intended safety objective in the most effective manner.
  7. Develop licence application requirements for import and export: for nuclear substances that do not fall within the Nuclear Non-proliferation Import and Export Control Regulations, application requirements found in section 3 of the General Nuclear Safety and Control Regulations are used to issue import and export licences. Application requirements specific to import and export could be developed to provide greater precision and clarity.
  8. Housekeeping amendments: A number of amendments were identified that would reduce administrative burden for both the CNSC and licensees; for example:
    • allowing for the submission of electronic information
    • adjusting certain provisions in regulations that require information or values to be included in the licence (these clauses would be adjusted to better reflect the CNSC’s licensing approach)

Next steps

The CNSC intends to have more in-depth consultation with stakeholders about the issues and the need for potential changes to the CNSC’s regulations; e.g., through workshops or discussion papers. The CNSC is always looking for ways to improve its regulations and welcomes feedback at any time.


Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission
P.O. Box 1046, Station B
280 Slater Street
Ottawa, ON  K1P 5S9

Fax: 613-995-5086

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