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GD-379: Guide for Applicants and Intervenors Writing CNSC Commission Member Documents


Guidance document GD-379 sets out the guidance of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) for applicants and intervenors writing CNSC Commission Member Documents (CMDs).

Requirements associated with this document are found in Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission Rules of Procedure.

This document does not address:

  • guidance on preparing licence applications
  • detailed discussion about safety and control areas for particular facilities or groups of facilities
  • guidance on presentation techniques

Two associated CMD templates have been developed for use in conjunction of this guide. To prepare a CMD related to a licensing decision, applicants and intervenors may use the External CMD Template for Licensing Decisions. When preparing a CMD for a public Commission proceeding for a matter other than a licensing decision the External CMD Template for Other Submission Types may be used.

Table of Contents

1.0 Introduction

1.1 Purpose

This document provides guidance for writing Commission Member Documents (CMDs) for submission to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC).

1.2 Scope

This document addresses the following aspects of writing an effective CMD:

  • a brief overview of the hearing process
  • guiding principles and points to remember
  • writing tips (such as principles of plain language, and the use of visual aids)
  • suggested format and order of information for applicants and intervenors preparing CMDs for licensing decisions, so that externally submitted CMDs are in the same format as CNSC staff submissions
  • preparing and filing a CMD presentation

Due to the complexity of a licensing decision request, this document focuses on preparing a CMD that presents a case about a licensing application that has been made to the Commission Tribunal (“the Tribunal”). Sections 4.0, 5.0, and 6.0 of this document are specific to preparing CMDs related to licensing decisions. Section 7.0 focuses on preparing CMDs for other types of submissions.

The other sections of this document are meant to assist anyone outside the CNSC who is interested in submitting a CMD.

1.3 Background

All submissions filed with the CNSC before public hearings are called Commission Member Documents. Concise, well-written CMDs help the Tribunal members to quickly find the information they need, which leads to a more efficient hearing process. In addition to their immediate usefulness to the Tribunal, CMDs also become part of the public record for the hearing (Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission Rules of Procedure, paragraph 15(1)(c)).

An internal procedure was developed in 2010 to provide CNSC staff with guidance and tools to present the Tribunal with consistently reliable, well-written CMDs. This procedure, which was based on years of CNSC staff experience and feedback from the Tribunal, included a guide for writing CMDs. Many external stakeholders showed interest in receiving similar guidance, along with a summary of the Commission hearing process.

Development of the current document was further supported by the Tribunal and the CNSC Secretariat, to promote submission of CMD material that would facilitate more effective communication throughout the hearing process - from start to finish.

1.4 Roles and responsibilities

It is recommended that all parties become familiar with the roles and responsibilities associated with Tribunal hearings early on in the process.

Tribunal hearings involve the following parties:

  • the Tribunal
  • the Secretariat
  • CNSC staff
  • applicants and licensees
  • intervenors

1.4.1 The Tribunal

In keeping with the requirements of the Nuclear Safety and Control Act (NSCA), the Tribunal consists of up to seven permanent members (including the CNSC President), who are appointed by the Governor in Council. The Governor in Council may also appoint temporary members. The CNSC President is currently the only full-time member of the Tribunal.

1.4.2 The Secretariat

The Secretariat is made up of CNSC employees who plan Tribunal business and support the President and other Tribunal members as appropriate.

Secretariat functions include:

  • communicating with stakeholders, including CNSC staff, government departments, intervenors, applicants, licensees, media and the public about Tribunal business
  • receiving licence applications
  • acting as the official registrar for Tribunal documentation
  • managing Tribunal hearings and meetings

1.4.3 CNSC staff

CNSC staff members submit CMDs to provide recommendations to the Tribunal. They may also provide assistance to applicants and other participants with reference to the kind of information the Tribunal will look for in their CMD submissions.

With respect to the CMD process, CNSC staff functions include (but are not limited to):

  • reviewing licence applications and submissions
  • providing review results to applicants and licensees
  • producing CMDs that provide the results of the application review and recommendations

1.4.4 Applicants and licensees

Applicants and licensees also submit CMDs.

  • An “applicant” is a party who has filed a licence application that is under regulatory review.
  • A “licensee” is a party who already holds a licence (but who is referred to as an applicant if making an application; for example, for licence amendment(s) or renewal(s)).

In this document, references to an external party usually denote an applicant.

1.4.5 Intervenors

Intervenors are members of the public or organizations with an interest in the matter who have requested the opportunity to present information on the subject of the hearing. The request to act as an intervenor is made by notifying the Secretariat. The Notice of Public Hearing contains instructions on how to do this.

Where a hearing allows for both written submissions and an oral presentation, the intervenor may choose to present both orally and in writing, or to make a written submission only. In general, an intervenor may only make an oral presentation if a written submission has been made.

1.5 Types of Commission proceedings

The Tribunal holds different types of hearings to receive and consider the information it needs to make fair, transparent decisions on the licensing of nuclear-related activities. Hearings are informal and allow for some format adjustments so that hearings can be as fair, efficient and effective as possible. The Commission also holds public meetings for the conduct of its affairs, at such times and such places as established by the Bylaws of the Commission.

1.5.1 Meetings

Meetings consist mostly of public presentations to the Tribunal for information. They also may involve decisions that are not directly related to licensing (e.g., regulatory document approval).

1.5.2 Public hearings

The public hearing is the most common process used and can be held on a single day (one-day public hearing) or over two separate days (two-day public hearing). This section presents some key information about the public hearing process, and more details are available on the Public Commission Hearings page of the CNSC Web site.

At a public hearing, the applicant usually presents first, followed by CNSC staff and then the intervenor(s).

For any public hearing, a transcript of the proceedings is available on the CNSC Web site the week after the hearing. All public hearings are webcast and archived on the CNSC Web site for three months.

One-day public hearings

One-day public hearings generally deal with less complex matters or those of limited public interest. These hearings are held in public and are subject to restrictions on protected information (see subsection 1.5.3, “Closed sessions”).

For a one-day public hearing, the Tribunal hears all of the submissions from the applicant, CNSC staff, and intervenors in a single session, with presentations being followed by questions from Tribunal members. A one-day hearing can last more than one day - it really refers to a single consolidated session.

Two-day public hearings

Two-day public hearings deal with more significant licensing activities (such as licence renewals, changes in technology, or removal of a licence condition) or when the level of public interest is high. These hearings are held in public, subject to restrictions with regard to protected information (see subsection 1.5.3, “Closed sessions”).

A two-day hearing can last more than two days. It really refers to two separate sessions that are typically 60 days apart.

On Day One, the Tribunal hears submissions from the applicant and then from CNSC staff, and then asks questions.

On Day Two, the applicant and CNSC staff present a brief overview of what was presented on the first day, along with supplementary information that responds to questions that Tribunal members asked on day one. After the Tribunal members ask a first round of questions of the applicant and CNSC staff, the intervenors are invited to present their submissions. Tribunal members can ask questions after each intervenor's presentation. There is usually a final round of questions after the intervenor presentations and after all written submissions have been considered.

The applicant and CNSC staff are expected to attend on both days.

1.5.3 Closed sessions

Certain protected information (such as security information or commercially sensitive material) that may not be discussed in a public forum or otherwise made publicly available is heard in camera. This type of proceeding is referred to as a “closed session”.

1.5.4 Criteria for choosing hearing type

Two-day public hearings are typically conducted for licence applications and renewals, and for non-administrative licence amendments related to nuclear facilities, such as nuclear power plants, nuclear processing facilities and uranium mines and mills.

The following criteria are used to determine whether a one-day public hearing will suffice:

  • the level of public interest is low
  • the matter is not controversial (e.g., amendment adding conditions to an existing licence, requirement for an intermediate decision as part of a sequence of operations, or an application for a decommissioning licence)
  • the matter does not introduce or use new or unproven technology
  • the matter would not negatively affect the function of safety-related systems
  • the issue was previously examined in the context of other licensing proceedings and/or environmental assessments conducted by the Tribunal
  • the matter is a licence renewal with no substantive amendments and no (or limited) outstanding issues

After considering the application, CNSC staff make a recommendation to the Tribunal as to the most appropriate type of hearing; however, the CNSC President makes the final decision.

1.6 Submission process

For licensing matters, the submission process is as follows:

  1. An application is submitted to the Secretariat and copied to appropriate CNSC staff. This submission may include mention of a preferred hearing date (based on the Public Hearings Calendar). In the case of a licence renewal, the applicant identifies the expiry date of the current licence and the Secretariat establishes the timing for the hearing.
  2. CNSC staff review the application and confirms that the application is complete. If the application is complete, then CNSC staff performs a detailed technical review. If the application is not complete, then the applicant is asked to provide the required information.
  3. CNSC staff make a recommendation to the Secretariat regarding which type of hearing would be most appropriate (i.e., a one-day hearing, a two-day hearing, or an abridged hearing). Staff can also recommend dates to the Secretariat.
  4. When the type of hearing and the hearing date are decided, the Secretariat sends a letter to the applicant along with the Notice of Public Hearing, indicating the deadlines for filing the CMD and presentation material.
  5. The Secretariat assigns a CMD number to the matter, and this number is applied to all documents associated with that matter for the given hearing. The CMD number is provided to the applicant and to CNSC staff as soon as it is assigned. Intervenors are given the CMD number when a decision is made to permit their intervention.
  6. When the external submission is received from the applicant:
    1. If the CMD was prepared using one of the CMD templates associated with this guide, then the Secretariat confirms that the assigned CMD number has been applied - if not, then the Secretariat applies the number as appropriate
    2. If a CMD template was not used, then the Secretariat prepares a cover page and applies the assigned CMD number.

1.6.1 Rules of procedure

The basic requirements associated with CMD submissions are set out in the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission Rules of Procedure(the Rules). Please note that the Tribunal may vary or supplement any of the Rules to ensure that a proceeding is dealt with as informally and expeditiously as the circumstances and the considerations of fairness permit (paragraph 3(1) of the Rules).

Submissions made by applicants and licensees are subject to subsections 18(1) and 18(3) of the Rules, which are as follows:

  • 18(1) A party who intends to appear at a public hearing shall file with the Commission, at least 30 days before the start of the hearing, a notice that includes:
    1. a statement of the party's intention to appear and, where the party will be represented by counsel or an agent, the name, address and telephone and facsimile numbers of the counsel or agent, and
    2. a copy of the documentary information and written submission that the party will present to the Commission at the hearing, and a list of any witnesses proposed by the party.
  • 18(3) Where a public hearing comprises two hearing days, any documentary information and written submission filed under subrule (1) or (2) shall be considered by the Commission on each of those hearing days, and the parties and their witnesses shall attend on each of those hearing days unless the Commission directs otherwise in the interests of a fair, informal and expeditious consideration of the matter.

CNSC staff submissions are subject to subsections 2(2) and 18(2), which state that:

  • 2(2) The Commission or a designated officer, as the case may be, may permit or require officers and employees of the Commission to participate in a proceeding under these Rules in such manner, including presenting information and submissions orally or in writing, questioning participants and responding to questions and submissions, as will enable the Commission or designated officer to determine the matter in a fair, informal and expeditious manner.
  • 18(2) There shall be filed with the Commission, at least 30 days before the start of a public hearing, a copy of the documentary information and written submission that the officers and employees of the Commission will present to the Commission at the hearing.

Section 19 of the Rules sets out the following stipulations for intervenor submissions:

  • 19(1) Where a request to intervene at a public hearing is filed with the Commission in accordance with subrules (2) and (3), the Commission, subject to these Rules, may permit the following persons to participate as intervenors at the hearing in the manner and to the extent that the Commission considers will enable it to determine the matter before it in a fair, informal and expeditious manner:
    1. a person who has an interest in the matter being heard; or
    2. a person who has expertise in the matter or information that may be useful to the Commission in coming to a decision.
  • 19(2) Where the notice of public hearing given under this Part indicates one hearing day, the request to intervene must be filed with the Commission by the filing date specified in the notice.
  • 19(3) Where the notice of public hearing given under this Part indicates two hearing days, the request to intervene must be filed with the Commission at least 30 days before the second hearing day.
  • 19(4) The request to intervene shall include:
    1. the name, address and telephone and facsimile numbers of the requester
    2. where the requester intends to be represented by counsel or an agent, the name, address and telephone and facsimile numbers of the counsel or agent
    3. a description of how the requester meets at least one of the conditions for intervening set out in subrule (1) and
    4. a statement setting out whether the requester wishes to intervene by way of written submission only or by way of written submission and oral presentation, and a copy of the information and submission.
  • 19(5) Where a public hearing comprises two hearing days, any written submission and oral presentation of a person permitted to intervene at the public hearing shall be considered by the Commission on the second hearing day.

1.6.2 Submission timelines

Timeline for one-day public hearings

One-day public hearings

  1. If CNSC staff recommends a one-day public hearing, then the Secretariat is notified at least 90 days (ideally, 120 days) before the day scheduled for that hearing. This gives the Secretariat the opportunity to advise the applicant of submission deadlines within a reasonable time, and to prepare the Notice of Public Hearing within the prescribed timelines.
  2. The Notice of Public Hearing is issued at least 60 days (ideally 90 days) before the hearing.
  3. Submissions from CNSC staff and from the applicant are due 60 days before the hearing.
  4. Submissions from intervenors are due 30 days before the hearing. The later deadline for intervenor submissions is to allow sufficient time for members of the public to read the material filed by CNSC staff and the applicant before writing their own submissions.
  5. Any supplementary material, including slide presentations, must be filed at least seven days before the date on which it will be heard.
  6. A decision is announced approximately six weeks (30 business days) after the hearing date.

Timeline for two-day public hearings

Two-day public hearings

  1. If CNSC staff recommend a two-day public hearing, then the Secretariat is notified at least 90 days before the day scheduled for day one.
  2. The Notice of Public Hearing is issued 60 days before day one.
  3. CNSC staff and the applicant file submissions at least 30 days before day one.
  4. CNSC staff and the applicant file supplementary material, including slide presentations, at least seven days before day one.
  5. CNSC staff and applicant presentations are heard on day one.
  6. Intervenors file requests to intervene, along with related submissions, at least 30 days before the date scheduled for day two.
  7. Supplementary material that is being filed for consideration on day two, including presentations, must be filed at least seven days before day two. In exceptional circumstances, for example in the case that substantive information needs to be provided to the Commission for day two, the applicant and CNSC staff should provide supplementary CMDs at least 15 days before the intervenor's deadline (or 45 days before hearing day two), to allow intervenors to provide comments on this information.
  8. Supplementary staff and applicant submissions, as well as intervenor submissions, are heard on day two.
  9. Although there are no prescribed timelines, a decision is announced approximately six weeks (30 business days) after day two.

There are no set deadlines for CMDs submitted for consideration in a closed session. Deadlines for this type of CMD are determined by the Secretariat.

1.6.3 Presentations

The rules pertaining to CMD presentations are addressed in Section 21 of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission Rules of Procedure, and can be summarized as follows:

  1. During a public hearing, the Tribunal may permit each participant (which includes a licensee/applicant or an intervenor) to present information and submissions orally or in writing, and may permit participants to question one another and any witnesses (through the Tribunal Chair).
  2. The Tribunal may permit participants to respond to any submissions in any manner and sequence that will enable the Tribunal to determine the matter in a fair, informal, and expeditious manner.
  3. Any person who makes an oral presentation at a public hearing must have complied with the document filing requirements set out in the appropriate rules.
  4. Any person, except for an intervenor, who has made submissions for a public hearing may file supplementary material no later than seven days before the start of that hearing (or the Wednesday of the week before the hearing date). Presentations slides are considered supplementary material; they will be given a CMD number and will be part of the public record.

Guidance on preparing presentations is provided in Section 8.0, “Presentations”.

2.0 Types of CMDs

The type of CMD being prepared depends on the kind of information being presented. Typically, CMDs are prepared to:

  • present the Tribunal with information (“Information CMDs”)
  • ask the Tribunal to render a decision (“Decision CMDs”)

Depending on the sensitivity of the information being submitted, the CMD is identified as “unprotected” or clearly marked with the appropriate security classification.

Unprotected CMDs contain information that is appropriate for public viewing. Each unprotected CMD, including the associated presentation material, becomes part of the record for the respective hearing.

Information that cannot be disclosed in public should be submitted in a CMD that is clearly marked with the appropriate security classification. This type of CMD is presented in a closed session.

If a small portion of the submission cannot be publicly disclosed (for security or other reasons), but the rest can be made available to the public, then two CMDs should be submitted. In this case, the main CMD is “unprotected,” and a second, classified submission contains the secure information.

2.1 Information CMDs

Information CMDs are used to present the Tribunal with such material as:

  • performance reports (such as mid-term reports)
  • detailed event reports
  • any other matters of interest

2.2 Decision CMDs

Decision CMDs are used to ask the Tribunal for a decision of any type, from accepting an environmental assessment report to deciding on a policy or licensing matter (such as a licence renewal or amendment, or an approval of actions taken to meet licence conditions).

The CMD submitted by an applicant/licensee for day one of a two-day public hearing should contain all of the information that the applicant/licensee finds necessary for the Commission to make its decision on the licensing application. The main focus of the second day of a two-day hearing is the consideration of interventions by the Commission. Therefore, the CMD submitted for day two of a two-day hearing should only supplement the information provided by the applicant/licensee in the day-one CMD. Section 2.3 discusses supplemental CMDs.

2.3 Supplemental and replacement CMDs

CMD submissions are subject to very strict timelines (see subsection 1.6.2, “Submission Timelines”). However, if one of the following three conditions applies, then the original submission can be supplemented or replaced:

  • a previous commitment to provide further information was made on day one of a two-day hearing
  • the Tribunal has requested additional information
  • there is new and relevant information

The decision as to whether a supplemental or replacement CMD would be most appropriate is a judgment call on the degree of change to the information.

Tribunal members generally prefer to be able to find and review new or updated information quickly and easily, without spending undue time searching for differences between original and new submissions. Therefore, a supplemental CMD is used to submit changes that are very brief and easily identifiable, and the differences between the original and the new submission are clearly highlighted.

If there are significant or extensive changes to the original submission, then a replacement CMD should be considered.

3.0 Guiding Principles for CMD Preparation

An effective CMD presents information in a way that allows the Tribunal to understand the matter at hand as fully as possible.

A CMD intended to support a licence application should provide a comprehensive case for licensing. It is usually presented to the Tribunal at a public hearing, where Tribunal members direct the applicant to provide clarification as needed. At the same hearing, Tribunal members consider a parallel CMD prepared by CNSC staff, which details staff conclusions and recommendations about the matter being heard.

3.1 Consultation with CNSC staff

When preparing a CMD, applicants and intervenors are advised to consult frequently with appropriate CNSC staff, and to do so early in the process. This will help ensure that the CMD is prepared properly and that deadlines are met. CNSC points of contact for CMD preparation include the Secretariat and other staff, such as licensing officers and technical specialists.

3.1.1 Consultation with the Secretariat

The Secretariat should be consulted early in the CMD preparation process for direction on the type of hearing or meeting that would be most appropriate, and to ensure that the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission Rules of Procedureare followed. Early consultation also allows the Secretariat to issue CMD numbers and determine the submission deadlines for CMDs.

The Secretariat can also assist in identifying the appropriate level of detail for the CMD and provide advice on the most effective ways to package new or unusual submissions.

All CMDs are to be submitted to the Secretariat.

3.1.2 CNSC staff

Since the Commission hearing process is directly linked to technical review of an application, a CNSC licensing officer is the initial contact point for an applicant preparing a decision CMD.

CNSC licensing officers and technical specialists are also available to assist in identifying which safety and control areas (SCAs) (see subsection 5.2) apply to the CMD, and what specific areas CNSC staff will be discuss in their own submission.

In addition, licensing officers can provide information about the status of environmental assessments, Aboriginal consultation, etc.

Contact the CNSC Secretariat for information on who can assist you with the subject(s) in which you are interested.

3.2 Writing tips

3.2.1 Remember the audience

The Tribunal and members of the public are the primary audience for the CMD.

The CMD should contain material that allows the Tribunal to render an informed decision, and that all readers (the Tribunal, the public or others) can be reasonably expected to understand.

It is therefore important when preparing a CMD to keep the following principles in mind:

  • Communicate clearly, logically, and consistently.
  • Convey information in plain language; where you must use specialized, technical language in order to be technically accurate, explain any unusual terms clearly within the text or define them in a glossary.

3.2.2 Write with focus, clarity, logic and relevance

Focused, clear, logical and relevant information leads to clear decisions.

The Tribunal relies on the CMD as the primary reference for its decision, so every CMD should:

  • Focus on the intended message.
  • Contain information that is directly related to the hearing or meeting.
  • Be concise, complete and clear.
  • Present information logically and in context to facilitate easy access to the various kinds of information being conveyed.
  • Include any information needed to help the Tribunal to understand what is being presented, and to support its consideration of the matter

When you present a focused, clear, logical and relevant CMD, you are also likely to receive fewer questions from the Tribunal than if documentation is incomplete or unclear, contains irrelevant details, or lacks focus and context.

3.2.3 Use plain language

Effective communication relies on plain language. Communicating in plain language means being clear and concise, using short sentences, keeping to the facts and writing in a way that is easy to read and understand.

While the Tribunal depends on CMDs that are technically and legally sound, it is important to convey information in language that is as plain as possible. However, be sure not to over-simplify material, as this could alter the intended meaning to the extent that context of the message is lost or compromised.

The following suggestions are intended to help you convert complex messages and legal and technical jargon into plain language that is understandable to a wide audience, without compromising the intent or accuracy of the content.

Plain Language Tips
Potential Problem Solution
Run-on sentences

Run-on sentences can usually be split into phrases that are simple and to the point. If a sentence seems too long, focus on the key parts needed to convey the message, and split the sentence into two or more shorter phrases. This will help you sequence your ideas logically and remove unnecessary words that do not add meaning.

The goal is to prevent readers from having to go back and re-read content that is difficult to understand before they continue through the document.

Ambiguous phrases Determine what you are trying to say and change the phrase to make it clear.
Overly wordy or redundant material

Remove words or sentences that only overstate a message or that unnecessarily repeat points that were already made.

As long as the message is not lost, a good rule to keep in mind when expressing complex information is that “less is more”. The more simply a message can be communicated, the more impact it has on the reader and the more easily it is understood.

Acronyms and initialisms

An acronym is formed from the first letters of a series of words, and is a pronounceable term that can be used as a word. For example, the acronym for the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency is “CEAA” (pronounced “seeya”).

An initialism is formed in the same way, but the result is not pronounceable as a word. For example, the initialism for the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission is “CNSC.”

Acronyms and initialisms that are recognized within an organization or that are familiar to technical specialists may mean nothing to other potential readers. The benefit of using them - to reduce repetition of their often lengthy full forms - is minimized if the reader cannot understand the reference.

Spell out each acronym or initialism the first time you use it, and place it in parentheses after the spelled-out name or phrase; for example, “Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC).” The initialism can then stand alone in all subsequent occurrences.

Do not italicize acronyms and initialisms.

If you use several acronyms and initialisms in a document, then define them in a glossary at the end of the main body of the CMD.

Special terminology Minimize or avoid terminology or jargon that is unfamiliar to the general public. Where possible, replace these words and phrases with simpler, more common terms.Sometimes there is no simple plain-language term to explain a concept, or alternate wording may require an explanation that could complicate, change, or detract from the intended message. If you must use specialized terms in order to be technically or legally accurate, be sure to define them clearly in a glossary at the end of the main document, and then refer readers to the glossary when using the term(s) within the CMD.

Italics and capitalization

Use the following guidelines for italics and capitalization:

  • Apply italics only to the actual titles of acts, regulations and documents or - sparingly - to words that require special emphasis, such as direct quotations.
  • Capitalize proper names and publication titles.

Examples of proper use of italics and capitalization include:

  • The Commission must be satisfied that all applicable requirements of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act are met.
  • For a comprehensive overview of the CNSC, readers are invited to consult the latest version of the CNSC's Annual Report.

3.2.4 Provide clear and relevant information and support

It is often difficult to convey highly technical, complex information in a clear message that is readily meaningful to non-experts. Even material written in plain language that is clear to a technical specialist may not be immediately understood by a lay audience or other readers. It is therefore very important to provide enough information that the Tribunal can understand the requested action without unnecessarily complicating that information.

In order to achieve this goal, the content of the CMD should focus on the information that is directly relevant to its purpose. The relevance of any information may be confirmed by:

  • determining whether it can be supported with data, reports, analysis results, etc.
  • asking if it answers a question that the Tribunal might reasonably be expected to ask

When writing any CMD, a good way to determine the effectiveness of your document is to ask: “If I were a Tribunal member reading this material, what would I need to know to make an informed decision that I could defend with confidence?”.

3.2.5 Provide context

It is important to put the information in a CMD into context so that all readers can understand the issues easily. For example:

  • When drafting content about a highly technical subject, you may be inclined to provide specialized information (such as regulatory limits or scientific formulae) to explain a situation. This kind of material should be discussed broadly in the main body of the CMD, in a way that is meaningful to all readers, with supporting details or more technical information included as in addenda to the main document.
  • Instead of only stating that, “…emissions are so many parts per billion (ppb),” expand on this statement with language that is more commonly understood, such as, “…the emissions are 20% of the limit”.
  • When including a unit of measurement, define the unit the first time you use it, and then use that unit consistently throughout the CMD. Consistent units and comparison points are essential to providing context. In most cases, the CNSC uses standard metric units. It is recommended that that applicants consult with CNSC staff on appropriate units of measurement.

3.2.6 Use visual aids

When the goal is to present highly technical or complex information clearly and concisely, a picture really is worth a thousand words.

Visual aids such as graphs, photographs, maps, charts, and tables can be very helpful in conveying patterns, trends, site plans, locations, comparisons, etc. Diagrams can be extremely useful for presenting information about such matters as effluent discharge locations, human settlements, ground water and air monitoring stations, or exposure trends (to workers or to the public), etc. Tables, graphs and other visual aids can give the Tribunal valuable views of various areas of interest, such as performance over the licence period, or anticipated milestones for future plans.

When inserting visual aids, provide meaningful labels and make sure they are clear, legible, and relevant to the adjacent content.

3.2.7 Write with one voice

Plain language is best achieved by writing with one “voice”. If your CMD has contributions from multiple authors, carefully review them all and adapt them as necessary to create a document with a single, cohesive style and tone (or “voice”).

In addition to making the document easier to read, applying a single voice helps identify and correct gaps, errors, or inconsistencies that can be introduced if input from different writers is just used exactly as received.

3.2.8 Use active voice

A document's voice or tone influences how content is heard in the reader's mind. In writing, a clear distinction is drawn between passive voice and active voice.

Passive voice usually requires more words, and creates a delay in getting to the point. The following sentence demonstrates the use passive voice:

“One of the regulatory tools used by the CNSC in carrying out its responsibilities under the Act is an order”.

In this example, the reader has to read the entire sentence to arrive at the subject (“an order”). “…used by the CNSC…” is another use of passive voice that could be rewritten in a more active tone. Changing this sentence to active voice brings the main subject (“an order”) to the front and keeps both subjects (“an order” and the “CNSC”) and verbs (“is” and “use”) close together. As shown below, this “activates” the sentence and makes it easier to read.

An order is one of the regulatory tools that the CNSC uses to carry out…”

4.0 Overview of the Licensing Decision CMD

The External CMD Template for Licensing Decisions provides placeholder headings to ensure that information is presented in the same sequence as that followed by CNSC staff in their licensing decision CMDs (see “below”). It is recommended that, where appropriate, applicants and intervenors use the same sequence in their CMDs, even if the template is not used.

Content Considerations for a Licensing Decision CMD
Template Section Suggested Content Considerations
Section # Section Name
  Executive Summary Provide an executive summary that gives meaningful insight into what is being presented to the Tribunal, including highlights and a general explanation of the intent of the submission, as appropriate. Keep the executive summary to one page if possible, and to a maximum of two pages.
1 Introduction The subsections provided in the introduction are intended for explaining the context of the submission, including background information and a summary of the application (see below).
1.1 Background Provide background information that gives the context of the case for the application. The intent of this subsection is to promote the Tribunal's thorough understanding of matters such as a description of the facility, the applicant's activities, the site's size, location, and proximity to other facilities, etc.Visual aids such as aerial photographs and maps are extremely helpful here.
1.2 Summary of Application

Explain the history of the application to give the reader a sense of how long the current application process has been going on. Provide information here about such matters as:

  • the overall purpose of the application
  • when the application was submitted
  • what is being requested
  • whether the applicant is requesting any high-level changes (changes to the licence period, etc.)
  • the licensing history
2 Business Plan

Use this section to discuss the ‘non-safety' factors of the application, including any business considerations or other information that gives context to the licensed activity, the facility, etc.

You may want to include an overview of the key elements of the business plan over the requested licence period, discussing, for example:

  • factors that may cause a significant increase or decrease in productivity
  • potential plans for refurbishment or life extension
  • benefits of the proposal or activity described
  • the expected commercial life of the facility or activity
3 Safety and Control Areas

Dedicate this section to information about the safety and control areas (SCAs) associated with the application (see Section 5.0 of this guide).

CNSC staff can provide guidance on which SCAs apply to a given application. Working with CNSC staff promotes alignment on specific topics between CNSC staff CMDs and the applicant's CMD.

4 Other Matters of Regulatory Interest

“Other matters of regulatory interest” are topics about which the Tribunal may need information, but that do not fall within the SCA framework.

Section 6.0 of this guide provides more information about this category and the kind of information the Tribunal expects to see for each topic.

CNSC staff can provide guidance on what topics they will be covering in the staff CMD.

If applicable, provide a list of references to any material (published documents, reports, etc.) that are associated with the submission and that might be helpful, or of interest, to the reader.

Remember that intervenors or other members of the public may request copies of the documents listed as references in the CMD. If a referenced document is confidential, the Tribunal or a designated officer will determine the status of the document in accordance with s. 12 of the Rules.

  Glossary Define acronyms, initialisms, unavoidable jargon, and special terminology.

As discussed in subsection 3.2.3 of this guide (“use plain language”), the main body of the CMD should provide relatively high-level information that flows without being interrupted by large or detailed charts, graphs, analytical data, report excerpts, or other minute details.

If charts or graphics are small, keep them with the related text in the main body of the document. If they are large, complex, or lengthy, place them in an appropriately named addendum and refer to them from the main body. Add more addenda as appropriate.

5.0 Safety and Control Areas

To facilitate consistent and comprehensive review and assessment of all regulated facilities and activities, the CNSC has organized its safety and control areas (SCAs) into a comprehensive framework. This framework consists of 14 SCAs grouped into three primary functional areas: management, facility and equipment, and core control processes. See subsection 5.2 of this guide for SCA definitions.

The Tribunal expects any licensing decision CMD to address all 14 SCAs in the sequence set out in subsection 5.Therefore, each area should be included, even if only to explain why it is not relevant to the given CMD.

Performance within each SCA is rated by CNSC staff. Applicants are not expected to rate performance.

To align with the CNSC staff submission, the SCAs should be addressed in section 3.0 of the CMD.

5.1 Common elements for safety and control area content

In the interest of plain language and to facilitate document flow and readability, use section 3.0 of the CMD to discuss the SCAs in general, and include extensive supporting details in addenda.

The Tribunal expects any licensing decision CMD to address five common perspectives of each SCA:

  • relevance and management
  • past performance
  • future plans
  • challenges
  • requests

Subsections 5.1.1 through 5.1.5, which follow, explain the general expectations associated with these facets of any SCA. Both the general expectations and the SCA-specific recommendations are provided within the External CMD Template for Licensing Decisions.

5.1.1 Relevance and management

Submit any information that will help give the Tribunal a complete picture of how the applicant has managed, or will manage, each SCA. Indicate whether the SCA is relevant to the application at hand and describe any measures that have been taken to meet the regulatory requirements associated with it. Explain how the area is controlled and managed, and how the SCA is covered in your suite of programs. Give equal consideration to past performance and future plans.

5.1.2 Past performance

Provide a high-level explanation of overall performance over the licence period - what is currently happening and how certain areas may factor more than others. Include internal performance indicators and descriptions of improvements made over the period, or any other information that illustrates past performance.

Emphasize plans or activities that may influence future performance.

5.1.3 Future plans

It is important that the Tribunal understand the expected performance during the proposed licensing period. Describe any performance targets or improvement plans that are intended to influence future performance, and provide any other information that describes plans that are relevant to the SCA.

Include plans for continuous improvement or self-assessment reports, etc.

5.1.4 Challenges

Identify any challenges associated with the SCA, and explain any actions that have been or will be taken to meet those challenges, including commitments made by CNSC staff.

5.1.5 Requests

Identify any modifications (changes, deletions, etc.) that are being requested with respect to licence conditions associated with the SCA. If no modifications are being requested, then make a clear statement that explains why current arrangements should be retained (such as adherence to a new version of a standard, etc.)

Discuss any related transition requirements.

Provide appropriate details in addenda to maintain the flow of the document.

5.2 SCA definitions

The following table identifies the functional areas of the SCA framework, and defines the 14 SCAs associated with those areas.

Communicate directly with CNSC staff to determine how each SCA applies to your specific facility or class of activity, and what kind of information the Tribunal will expect to see for each SCA.

For more complex facilities, CNSC staff may have identified specific areas within one or more SCAs.

Safety and Control Area Framework
Functional Area Safety and Control Area Definition
Management Management system Covers the framework which establishes the processes and programs required to ensure an organization achieves its safety objectives and continuously monitors its performance against these objectives and fostering a healthy safety culture.
Human performance management Covers activities that enable effective human performance through the development and implementation of processes that ensure that licensee staff is sufficient in number in all relevant job areas and have the necessary knowledge, skills, procedures and tools in place to safely carry out their duties.
Operating performance This includes an overall review of the conduct of the licensed activities and the activities that enable effective performance.
Facility and equipment Safety analysis Maintenance of the safety analysis that supports that overall safety case for the facility. Safety analysis is a systematic evaluation of the potential hazards associated with the conduct of a proposed activity or facility and considers the effectiveness of preventative measures and strategies in reducing the effects of such hazards.
Physical design Relates to activities that impact on the ability of systems, components and structures to meet and maintain their design basis given new information arising over time and taking changes in the external environment into account.
Fitness for service Covers activities that impact on the physical condition of systems, components and structures to ensure that they remain effective over time. This includes programs that ensure all equipment is available to perform its intended design function when called upon to do so.
Core control processes Radiation protection Covers the implementation of a radiation protection program in accordance with the RP Regulations. This program must ensure that contamination and radiation doses received are monitored and controlled.
Conventional health and safety Covers the implementation of a program to manage workplace safety hazards and to protect personnel and equipment.
Environmental Protection Covers programs that identify, control and monitor all releases of radioactive and hazardous substances and effects on the environment from facilities or as the result of licensed activities.
Emergency management and fire protection Covers emergency plans and emergency preparedness programs which exist for emergencies and for non-routine conditions. This also includes any results of participation in emergency exercises.
Waste management Covers internal waste-related programs which form part of the facility's operations up to the point where the waste is removed from the facility to a separate waste management facility. Also covers the planning for decommissioning.
Security Covers the programs required to implement and support the security requirements stipulated in the regulations, in their licence, in orders, or in expectations for their facility or activity.
Safeguards and non-proliferation Covers the programs and activities required for the successful implementation of the obligations arising from the Canada/IAEA safeguards agreements as well as all other measures arising from the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.
Packaging and transport Programs that cover the safe packaging and transport of nuclear substances and radiation devices to and from the licensed facility.

6.0 Other Matters of Regulatory Interest

“Other matters of regulatory interest” are topics that are relevant to the decision but that are not covered by the SCAs. These topics should be addressed in section 4.0 of the CMD to align with the CNSC staff submission.

CNSC staff has identified eight “other matters” that most often need to be addressed in external CMD submissions pertaining to licensing decisions:

  • environmental assessment
  • Aboriginal consultation
  • other consultation
  • cost recovery
  • financial guarantees
  • improvement plans and significant future activities
  • licensee public information program
  • nuclear liability insurance

Unlike the SCAs, other matters are addressed only if they are directly relevant to the purpose of the hearing. You should have an early discussion with CNSC staff to clarify which of the other matters the CMD should cover.

It is recommended that you address the relevant other matters in the sequence given here. Any additional matters that cannot be mapped to these topics should be included after those included in this list.

The following table explains the kind of information that should be provided for each relevant “other matter”.

Content Considerations for Other Matters of Regulatory Interest
Template Section Suggested Content Considerations
Section Section Name
4.1 Environmental Assessment

Under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA), any application for licensing action by the CNSC has the potential to trigger an environmental assessment (EA). For each application, the CNSC determines whether an EA is required. If an EA is required, then the EA technical studies are normally delegated to the applicant. The CNSC cannot make the licensing decision until after it renders its decision on the EA.

It is very important to demonstrate that all applicable CEAA requirements delegated to the applicant have been met. The applicant's consultation process around any EAs should also be explained, including the overall history of EAs on the site or at the facility.If an EA has already been done, then identify when and provide a summary of the decision that includes a list of any mitigation measures or follow-up actions that were stipulated in the decision. Explain how these measures have been met, and why any measures have not yet been implemented.

4.2 Aboriginal Consultation

Under section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982, the CNSC has a legal duty as an agent of the Crown to consult with Aboriginal groups when contemplating conduct that may adversely impact potential or established Aboriginal or treaty rights.

While applicants and existing licensees do not bear the Crown's legal obligation to consult, their role in engaging Aboriginal groups is important to the efficacy of the Tribunal's decision-making process. The applicant's consultation activities are therefore significant and can inform and assist the consultation activities undertaken by CNSC staff.

The outcome of all such activities, including any accommodation measures proposed by the applicant, will also form part of the evidence presented for consideration by the Commission.

Therefore, if applicable, it is very important to explain any efforts that have been, are being, or will be taken to engage Aboriginal groups.The CNSC's commitment and ongoing obligation to consult and build relationships with Canada's Aboriginal peoples is explained in the Aboriginal Consultation section of the CNSC Web site.

4.3 Other Consultation Describe any other consultation that has taken place, or that is taking place, with other governments or other government agencies in relation to the application.
4.4 Cost Recovery

The CNSC recovers the cost of regulating from applicants and licensees through the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission Cost Recovery Fees Regulations.

CMDs pertaining to licensing decisions should discuss the current standing of the licensee or facility with regard to cost recovery.

If the applicant is making a special request or inquiry about cost recovery, then provide the relevant content here.

4.5 Financial Guarantees Describe the proposed or existing financial guarantee for decommissioning the licensed activity, including current status and future plans for the financial guarantee. For example, describe the current value and future payment schedule for the related escrow account.The financial guarantee should be based on a cost estimate that is developed from a CNSC-approved approach. The financial guarantee must meet CNSC expectations for liquidity, certainty of value, adequacy of value and continuity, and be a form of financial guarantee that is acceptable to the Tribunal.Refer to CNSC regulatory guides G-206, Financial Guarantees for the Decommissioning of Licensed Activities, and G-219 , Decommissioning Planning for Licensed Activities, for more information.
4.6 Other Regulatory Approvals Briefly describe any other regulatory approvals or permits (federal, provincial or municipal) required for the project to proceed or continue. This information should include the status of each approval or permit being sought.
4.7 Public Information Program and Disclosure Program

A public information and disclosure program is a regulatory requirement for licence applicants and licensed operators of Class I nuclear facilities, Class II nuclear facilities, and uranium mines and mills. The documentation pertaining to the proposed public information and disclosure program(s) will therefore have been submitted with the licence application.

Provide a summary of the proposed program(s), including a description of the associated documentation. Information about public communication activities undertaken in pre-licensing and previous licensing stages should also be included, along with a description of the proposed public disclosure protocol for communicating information of interest to the public for routine and non-routine situations, events and activities (for further information on the public information and disclosure program please refer to CNSC Regulatory Document RD/GD-99.3, Public Information and Disclosure ).

4.8 Nuclear Liability Insurance Operators of nuclear installations, as defined under the Nuclear Liability Act, are required to have nuclear liability insurance. If nuclear liability insurance is relevant to the CMD, then state that you have it and provide applicable details.
4.9 Additional Other Matters If there are any additional matters of regulatory interest that have not been included above, add applicable headings at the end of the standard list of “other matters”.

7.0 Tips for Other Types of Submissions

Any external person may want to submit a CMD for a reason other than a licensing decision. The most common “other types” of CMDs are submitted for one of the following purposes:

  • in response to a request from the Tribunal
  • to meet a licence condition
  • to provide an update

The following considerations should be taken into account when preparing a CMD for something other than a licensing decision.

7.1 Format

The External CMD Template for Other Submission Types is available on the CNSC Web site. If providing a mid-term report, it is recommended to use the External CMD Template for Licensing Decisions, deleting the decision-related components.

This template provides a cover sheet, table of contents, and placeholders for an executive summary, an overview section, and glossary and reference pages. It also includes formatting styles that give it the same look and feel as the External CMD Template for Licensing Decisions, without the licence-specific placeholders and instructions.

7.2 Executive summary

If the CMD is extensive, preface the main body with an executive summary that provides meaningful insight into what is being presented to the Tribunal.

If an executive summary is not desired, then delete the placeholder heading and the related page.

7.3 Overview

The Tribunal will look for an overview that provides background information and highlights, as described below.

7.3.1 Background

In this subsection, explain why the CMD is being submitted. Also, be sure to demonstrate what has been done and what will be done with regard to the matter being heard.

7.3.2 Highlights/considerations/key matters

Highlight any points that should be drawn to the Tribunal's attention. Otherwise, delete the heading and the placeholder for the subsection.

7.4 Other sections

The balance of the main part of this template provides placeholders that use established template styles for document layout.

Type over any placeholders to create personal content. Any content created using the Heading styles (Heading 1, Heading 2, or Heading 3) will be included in the Table of Contents when it is updated (see subsection 9.1, item 4, or instructions embedded in the templates).

Delete any placeholder text that is not needed.

7.4.1 Glossary

Use this placeholder page or delete it, as appropriate.

7.4.2 References

Use this placeholder page or delete it, as appropriate.

7.4.3 Addenda

Use this placeholder page to create an addendum, and copy and paste it to create as many addenda as needed. If no addenda are required, then delete this page.

8.0 Presentations

It is generally expected that highlights of the CMD will be captured in a slide show for presentation to the Tribunal. Intervenors may also submit presentation material for consideration. The slide shows are typically created using an application such as Microsoft PowerPoint. The slide shows will be part of the public record and will be given a separate CMD number.

This presentation is an important tool for conveying a message not only to the Tribunal, but also to the general public. Therefore, it is important to apply adequate presentation techniques.

8.1 Timing

Unless the Tribunal permits more time, the applicant is typically allocated up to 20 minutes for an oral presentation, followed by a question period.

It is the practice of the Tribunal to allocate 10 minutes for each intervenor's oral presentation, followed by a question period.

8.2 Preparation tips

The following general parameters should be taken into account when preparing the slide presentation:

  • Briefly summarize the CMD, highlighting key points such as notable successes or how challenges have been and will be met.
  • Present the information in the same sequence as that used in the CMD.
  • Number each slide for ease of reference in discussion.
  • Ensure that each slide is legible; for example, ensure that the written information in graphs is not too crowded and is large enough to be read easily, and convey only one idea per graph.
  • Use legible visual aids wherever possible—well-chosen pictures and graphs can be extremely effective in conveying complex information clearly and quickly.
  • Include organizational charts and any other diagrams that will assist the Tribunal.
  • Use consistent font sizes for headings and - where possible - for bulleted lists, ensuring that the font size throughout the presentation can be read on a large screen.
  • Do not overload any one slide - break up extensive content about a particular topic across multiple slides to maintain the presentation's overall legibility and visual effectiveness.

8.3 Filing the presentation slides

The Secretariat must receive the presentation slides no less than seven days before the hearing date (or the Wednesday of the week before the hearing).

Send an electronic version of the presentation by email. If the file is too large to send by email, try converting it to PDF (one slide per page) or send it on a CD-ROM to the following address:
Office of the Secretariat
Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission
280 Slater Street
Ottawa, ON, CANADA
K1P 5S9

Include a list of the presenters (names and titles) and other team members who may be called upon to answer questions.

If speaking notes are prepared, provide three copies to the Tribunal Officer before the start of the hearing (or the day before). The speaking notes are for the interpreters only and are not distributed to the Tribunal members.

Appendix A: Suggestions for CMD Formatting

Two Microsoft Word templates have been prepared to assist with CMD formatting and layout. Both templates include a cover page with placeholder instructions, a Table of Contents that can be updated automatically, and placeholder headings to promote inclusion of the kind of information expected by the Tribunal.

The placeholder headings are in place to ensure that information is presented in the same sequence as that used by CNSC staff (since May 2010).

Both templates are designed for two-sided printing.

The External CMD Template for Licensing Decisions includes placeholders and instructions that are specific to CMDs being prepared to support licence requests.

The External CMD Template for Other Submission Typeshas the same look and feel as the licensing decisions template, but provides placeholder headings and instructions that apply to other type of submissions.

Using the CMD templates

Take the following steps to use either template:

  • when opening the template, save the resulting document as appropriate.
  • the cover page includes highlighted instructions that can be typed over. The highlighting should disappear as it is typed over; if this does not happen, remove the highlighting manually.
  • the Table of Contents should not be manually updated because it is pre-defined to pick up the heading styles that are already within the document. As the document is populated, these headings will move to different pages, and new headings may need to be introduced or placeholders may have to be removed.
  • to update the Table of Contents at any time, select the first line in the table and then press F9.
  • when prompted to replace the existing Table of Contents, click Yes.
  • instructional text is found throughout the template, in grey-shaded blocks of red text. These blocks can be deleted as the template is being filled in, or as a final step in the CMD preparation.
  • there are also highlighted placeholders throughout the document where appropriate content can be supplied using the predefined styles that were designed to go with the headings. As with the information requests on the cover page, (item 2, above), the highlighting should be removed when the text is selected and typing begins. The highlighting may have to be removed manually.

CMD template styles

The main styles used in the CMD templates are indicated below. In Microsoft Word 2003, these styles are available in the Microsoft Word Styles menu, or in the Format menu under “Styles and Formatting”.

Styles used in the CMD templates

Additional Information

The following sources provide additional information about CMD preparation and attending and participating at public hearings, along with links to various sections of the CNSC Web site that might provide additional insight.

  1. Visit Browse Hearing Documents on the CNSC Web site to view previous CMD submissions; the formatting/layout suggested herein has been followed in staff submissions since May 2010
  2. Canadian Environmental Assessment Act
  3. Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission Rules of Procedure
  4. CNSC Subscription Centre (to receive notifications whenever the Web site is updated)
  5. Nuclear Safety and Control Act
  6. Public Commission Hearing Participation Request Form
  7. Public Hearings Calendar
  8. Watch a Public Commission Hearing or Meeting Online
  9. Information about intervenor submissions

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