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Preliminary regulatory design assessment

A preliminary regulatory design assessment is an optional service provided by the CNSC at the request of a vendor.

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A preliminary regulatory design assessment is a mechanism that enables CNSC staff to provide feedback early on in the design process for individual elements of a vendor’s technology, using aspects of the vendor design review (VDR) process but without assessing the full reactor design. The VDR process is documented in REGDOC 3.5.4 Pre-Licensing Review of a Vendor's Reactor Design and refers to a set of 19 focus areas. A preliminary regulatory design assessment is different than a VDR. Rather than assessing the full design, it focuses on areas specific to the technology/design change being assessed, using subsets of the 19 focus areas described in the VDR process. A preliminary regulatory design assessment can, for example, be used to provide feedback on individual design elements of novel technologies, such as new fuel types or other design enhancements.

As with VDRs, the assessment is completed by the CNSC at the request of a vendor. The word “preliminary” signifies that the assessment is undertaken prior to any submission of a licence application to the CNSC by an applicant seeking to implement a new design enhancement or novel technology. An application by a vendor for an assessment is not an application for a licence to prepare a site for, construct or operate a nuclear power facility, and is not an indication of intent to proceed with a project.

The assessment does not certify a technology or a reactor design and does not involve the issuance of a licence under the Nuclear Safety and Control Act. The conclusions of any preliminary regulatory design assessment do not bind or otherwise influence decisions made by the Commission, and no regulatory decisions are based on the assessment.

The objective of an assessment is to verify, at a high level, the acceptability of a vendor’s design change or technology with respect to Canadian nuclear regulatory requirements and expectations, and Canadian codes and standards. These assessments can identify fundamental barriers to licensing a new technology in Canada and ensure that a resolution path exists for any design issues noted.

CNSC staff must balance the obligation to protect a vendor’s sensitive commercial information with the need to access this information so that they can conduct effective assessments and report on their work to the public transparently. To do so, CNSC staff prepare an executive summary of the overall conclusions and key findings of the preliminary regulatory design assessment and post it for public information. Details of discussions and assessment results are released at the vendor’s discretion.

Before any preliminary regulatory design assessment is undertaken, CNSC staff evaluate whether there are sufficient resources to carry out the assessment and whether there is evidence that the concept or technology proposed is advanced enough to ensure that the assessment will be useful.

Service agreements

A service agreement is a legal document that establishes the terms and conditions between the CNSC and a vendor/proponent. These terms and conditions enable the CNSC to conduct a preliminary regulatory design assessment in accordance with the Nuclear Safety and Control Act and its regulations. The agreement serves as a mechanism for:

  • preserving the CNSC’s regulatory independence by reinforcing the fact that the assessment being undertaken:
    • does not certify the design change or novel technology
    • does not involve the issuance of a licence under the Nuclear Safety and Control Act
    • is not required as part of the licensing process for a new nuclear power plant; the conclusions of any design assessment do not bind or otherwise influence future decisions made by the Commission
  • recovering costs for the work done by CNSC staff
  • ensuring that the objectives and conduct of an assessment remain, as much as reasonably possible, consistent from one vendor to the next, thereby ensuring fairness of treatment
  • striking a balance between protecting a vendor’s sensitive commercial information and providing CNSC staff with access to this information for the purposes of performing an effective assessment and transparently communicating the CNSC’s activities to the public, to the extent practicable

Prioritization of preliminary regulatory design assessments

In order to optimize its resources and best fulfill its mandate and obligations to Canadians, the CNSC prioritizes its work and will attempt to address vendors’ preliminary regulatory design assessment requests on an as-received basis. CNSC staff reserve the right to schedule and perform work in a manner that aligns with resource availability and the maturity of preliminary regulatory design assessment requests.

List of completed preliminary regulatory design assessments

Below is a list of completed assessments. Given the commercially sensitive and proprietary information in the full reports, the CNSC is only able to post the executive summaries. For any detailed information about the results of a preliminary regulatory design assessment, please contact the associated vendor.

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