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Compliance activities for Class II nuclear facilities and prescribed equipment

Compliance activities are planned based on the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission's (CNSC's) Risk-informed Regulatory Program.  The program ensures that activities of higher risk will receive the greatest regulatory oversight. The CNSC uses many tools to monitor and verify compliance with the NSCA, regulations and licence conditions.

This page contains further information on specific compliance tools including:

Desktop reviews

When assessing licence applications, CNSC staff review all activities proposed by the applicant to ensure compliance with regulations. The same is true of any information submitted by current licensees who wish to make amendments to their licence(s).

In addition to completing desktop reviews during the licensing phase, inspectors also perform desktop reviews just before visiting licensees for Type I or Type II inspections. The licensee's most recent documentation is reviewed as well as annual compliance reports and incident reports (if applicable) that have been submitted since the last inspection. This helps ensure that inspectors are fully informed on relevant information and the licensee's operations before visiting the licensee site.

Annual compliance reports

Licensees are required to submit annual reports on safety to the CNSC. Items that licensees must report on include, but are not limited to:

  • locations of licensed activities
  • dosimetry information for licensee staff
  • workload
  • nuclear substance inventory

Annual compliance reports allow licensees to self-report and allow the CNSC to monitor routine compliance indicators. Current ACR forms for your all use type can be downloaded for submission.

Type I inspections

Type I inspections are in-depth examinations of a licensee's processes and operations, and typically occur at the licensee's operational site(s). Inspectors check licensee compliance through directly observing operations, reviewing records and interviewing licensee staff. These inspections usually last several days and in most cases allow inspectors to gain an appreciation of the licensee's safety culture. Licensees receive daily updates during the inspection on inspectors' findings up to that point. At the end of an inspection, a preliminary report is issued by the inspector(s) and the licensee must provide timelines for addressing the findings. The timelines must reflect the safety significance of the findings. Should something be found during the inspection that is an imminent threat to health, safety or the environment, the NSCA provides inspectors with the power of law to immediately order cessation of these activities.

After the inspection team returns to the office, the inspection findings are presented to the rest of their inspector colleagues to ensure consistent regulation across all licensees. As a result of this discussion, corrective actions may increase or decrease in priority between the preliminary and final report. The final report will be issued within twelve weeks of the inspection.

Type II inspections

While Type I inspections examine the processes that a licensee uses in their operations, a Type II inspection typically examines the outcomes of those processes. Type II inspections are typically shorter, since extensive interviews are not performed, and data is collected mainly through direct observations, measurements and reviews of on-site records. A Type II pre-licensing inspection may also be used during the construction and/or commissioning phase of a facility. Should inspectors find issues that cannot be resolved through a Type II inspection, it may be followed up with a more in-depth Type I inspection. Type II inspections are usually scheduled ahead of time but can be performed unannounced if necessary. At the end of the inspection, a report is issued by the inspector(s) and the licensees must provide timelines for addressing the findings. Should something be found during the inspection that is an imminent threat to health, safety or the environment, the NSCA provides inspectors with the power of law to immediately order cessation of these activities.

Licensees can contact their project officer to obtain the criteria used by inspectors.


The CNSC uses a graded approach to enforcement to encourage compliance and deter future non-compliances. When a non-compliance (or a continued non-compliance) has been identified, CNSC staff assess its risk and safety significance to determine the enforcement action most likely to bring the licensee back into compliance. The chosen enforcement action is commensurate with the risk that the non-compliance presents to the environment, the health and safety of workers and members of the public, and to national security. Enforcement actions may include a variety of actions with different levels of severity. Each enforcement action is a discrete and independent response to a non-compliance.

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