New reactor facility projects

The CNSC makes independent, fair and transparent decisions on licensing new reactor facilities. For further details, see the Licensing process for Class IA facilities.

The CNSC provides an optional Pre-Licensing Vendor Design Review (VDR) process for vendors of reactor designs. The VDR process, which takes place prior to the licensing process, provides an early opportunity for vendors of a reactor technology to engage with the CNSC and to seek clarity on the regulatory requirements and the expectations of their design. A VDR does not result in any decision by the Commission under the Nuclear Safety and Control Act (NSCA) and is cost recovered from the vendor under the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission Cost Recovery Fee Regulations (Part 5, Special Project Fees). For further details, see REGDOC-3.5.4, Pre-Licensing Review of a Vendor’s Reactor Design and Pre-licensing vendor design reviews.

Current licensing activities

  • On March 20, 2019, Global First Power submitted an application for a licence to prepare site for a small modular reactor on Atomic Energy of Canada Limited’s property at the Chalk River Laboratories location. On July 15, 2019, the Notice of Commencement of an Environmental Assessment (EA) was posted, inviting comments on the Project Description from members of the public and Indigenous groups. The comment period closed on September 14, 2019. The next step will be a Commission hearing on the scope of the EA.
  • Ontario Power Generation (OPG) has notified CNSC of its intent to renew its licence to prepare site for the Darlington New Nuclear Project issued from August 17, 2012 to August 17, 2022
  • OPG has submitted an application to renew its licence to prepare site for the Darlington New Nuclear Project issued from August 17, 2012 to August 17, 2022.

Current pre-licensing vendor design reviews

Licensing process for Class IA facilities:

All reactor facilities are Class IA facilities under the Class I Nuclear Facilities Regulations.

These include:

  • small modular reactors
  • research reactors
  • prototype new reactor (fission or fusion) designs for the purposes of gathering scientific knowledge
  • reactor (fission or fusion) facilities of all sizes used for commercial purposes

For information about the licensing process for new nuclear facilities, please see REGDOC 3.5.1, Licensing Process for Class I Nuclear Facilities and Uranium Mines and Mills, Version 2.

The Commission is the CNSC’s decision-making body and it makes licensing decisions from initial application to abandonment.

Decisions made by the Commission take into consideration:

  • regulatory requirements
  • analyses and recommendations from CNSC staff based on their assessment of both licensee and stakeholder submissions to the Commission
  • best available information arising from regulatory research or credible research by third parties
  • public input

Regulatory framework

The CNSC’s regulatory framework includes guidance used to advise the applicant or licensee on how to meet requirements, elaborate further on requirements or provide information on best practices.

While the CNSC sets requirements and provides guidance on how to meet requirements, an applicant or licensee may put forward a case to demonstrate that the intent of a requirement is addressed by other means. Such a case must be demonstrated with supporting evidence. CNSC staff consider guidance when evaluating the adequacy of any case submitted. This does not mean that the requirement is waived; rather, it is an indication that the regulatory framework provides flexibility for licensees to propose alternative means of achieving the intent of the requirement. The Commission is always the final authority that determines whether the requirement has been met.

Applying for a licence under the Nuclear Safety and Control Act

Applicants who wish to carry out licensed activities are expected to use the following licence application guides for regulatory expectations on the information to submit for a licence. Licence application guides point to key regulatory documents by relevant activity.

Licensed activity

Guidance

Applicant must demonstrate

Site preparation REGDOC-1.1.1, Site Evaluation and Site Preparation for New Reactor Facilities Suitability of proposed site for construction and operation of the nuclear facility considering the activities involved in preparing the site (for example, land clearing and building services requirements), and adequate consultation with stakeholders and consideration of their views (potentially affected public, Indigenous groups, etc.)
Construction REGDOC-1.1.2, Licence Application Guide: Licence to Construct a Nuclear Power Plant

Proposed facility design conforms to regulatory requirements and will provide for safe operation over the proposed plant life, and responsibility for all activities pertaining to design, procurement, manufacturing, construction and commissioning.

Note:

When applying for a licence to construct, a preliminary safety analysis report (PSAR) is required under paragraph 5(f) of the Class I Nuclear Facilities Regulations.

The PSAR must include:

  • the deterministic safety analysis
  • a probabilistic safety assessment
  • a hazards analysis
Please note that before CNSC staff begin assessing the PSAR, design information as specified in paragraphs 5(a), (b), (d), (e) and (g) of the Class I Nuclear Facilities Regulations must also be submitted.
Operation REGDOC-1.1.3, Licence Application Guide: Licence to Operate a Nuclear Power Plant Appropriate safety management systems, plans and programs have been established and resolution of outstanding issues from construction stage.

Environmental reviews

Under the NSCA, the CNSC has a legislated mandate to regulate the use of nuclear energy and materials in order to protect health, safety, security and the environment. To meet this responsibility, the CNSC considers and evaluates the potential environmental effects of all nuclear facilities or activities when making licensing decisions.

In accordance with the CNSC’s current regulatory framework, new reactor facilities would be subject to environmental protection provisions under the NSCA, as well as all other applicable federal, provincial and/or territorial legislation such as the Impact Assessment Act, the former Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012 and northern environmental assessment regimes. This means that a science-based environmental technical assessment is performed on every project under the NSCA, including new reactor facilities.

Visit the Environmental reviews page for more information.

Indigenous consultation and engagement

The CNSC ensures that all of its licensing decisions and environmental reviews under the NSCA, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012, the Impact Assessment Act or other relevant legislation uphold the honour of the Crown and consider Indigenous peoples’ potential or established Indigenous or treaty rights pursuant to section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982.

Visit the Indigenous consultation, engagement and reconciliation page for more information.

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