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You Asked Us about Transporting Radioactive Materials

May 21, 2014

Question: I work for a carrier and we're interested in transporting radioactive materials. Do we require a CNSC licence?

Response by:  Sylvain Faille, Director Transport Licensing and Strategic Support Division

No, transport activities are generally exempt from licensing by the CNSC.

There are, however, regulatory requirements to be followed. Every organization involved in the transport of radioactive material must:

  • have emergency procedures in place
  • have a radiation protection program
  • train their workers in the transport of dangerous goods to be transported
  • report to the CNSC any incident involving radioactive materials

All persons who handle, offer for transport, transport or receive radioactive material are required to follow Transport Canada's Transportation of Dangerous Goods Regulations and the CNSC's Packaging and Transport of Nuclear Substances Regulations, 2015.

Transport Canada's regulations deal with the transport of all classes of dangerous goods, while CNSC's regulations are primarily concerned with health, safety and security of the public, and protection of the environment related to the special characteristics of radioactive material.

Under the regulations, there are three specific circumstances for which a transport licence is required:

  • transits of packages that requires certification by the CNSC where there is no Canadian licensee involved in the shipment either at origin or destination
  • special arrangement shipments where there are measures in place to ensure the safety of the shipment (e.g. material that is not able to be placed in a package type specified in the regulations)
  • transport of plutonium and enriched uranium above the quantities specified in the Nuclear Security Regulations. In order to transport these shipments, a transportation security plan must be in place and approved by the CNSC. The primary purpose of this plan is to assure that the nuclear material to be transported will receive adequate physical protection against any threats that may arise during its transport

In these cases, the consignor, not the carrier, is usually responsible for obtaining the CNSC licence.

Radioactive materials are classified as Class 7 under Transport Canada's Transportation of Dangerous Goods Regulations.

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