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Safety and Control Areas


To ensure that nuclear industry licensees in Canada meet all of their regulatory requirements and expectations, the CNSC assesses, evaluates, reviews, and verifies how well licensees are complying with these requirements. CNSC staff base their evaluation on safety and control areas (SCAs).

Each SCA includes technical areas and topics, which are selected based on the specific class and activity risks. This means that compliance verification reflects the exact nature of licence conditions. In total, there are 14 SCAs that can be broadly sorted into three functional areas: management, facility and equipment, and core controls and processes. 

Management systems (MS) reflect and include the principles of quality control (QC), quality assurance (QA) and quality management (QM), and are applied more broadly across an organization’s management processes and practices

Management-specific SCAs

Address the organizational and human elements of safety in Canadian nuclear facilities. Specifically, they cover management systems, human performance management, and operating performance. CNSC staff who verify compliance in these areas ensure that licensee staff are adequately trained, knowledgeable, and equipped to handle all safety duties. Performance, safety culture, organizational contingency plans, and many other specific measures are all covered under this functional area.

Facility and equipment SCAs

Include safety analysis, physical design, and fitness for service. These areas assess the potential hazards and risks of operating (as well as the preventative measures taken to minimize risk), the integrity of facility infrastructure design, and the overall long-term performance of equipment and systems. When CNSC staff analyze safety on the basis of facility and equipment, they are looking to verify a wide breadth of measures, ranging from the facility’s safety as a structure down to the maintenance of components. SCA compliance verification is assessed on a graded approach across all of the control areas, adjusted for risk and the nature of activities conducted at the individual facilities.

Core controls and processes

Form the largest functional area. These SCAs include radiation protection, conventional health and safety, environmental protection, emergency management and fire protection, waste management, security, safeguards and non-proliferation, and packaging and transport. What these SCAs have in common is that they all cover how a facility operates; they measure actions and plans that are in place, all against the unique and specific nature of each facility. The different core controls and processes, as well as the associated regulatory requirements, are all outlined in facility licensing agreements.

Overall, SCAs are a template for confirming regulatory compliance and facility safety, and cover all facility elements that the CNSC evaluates. Each year, thousands of inspections and compliance activities are conducted at licensee facilities throughout Canada, across all of the SCAs. The CNSC relies on SCAs as a major regulatory tool to fulfill its mandate of never compromising safety.

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