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Section C

Scope of Application

C.1�����Scope of the section

This section addresses Article 3 (Scope of Application) of the Joint Convention. It provides Canada's position on reprocessing spent fuel, naturally occurring radioactive waste and military and defence programs.


While neither the NSCA nor its associated regulations define radioactive waste, Regulatory Policy P-290, Managing Radioactive Waste, asserts that radioactive waste is �any liquid, gaseous or solid material that contains a nuclear substance, as defined in section 2 of the NSCA and for which the owner of the material foresees no further use and the owner had declared as waste. By definition, a radioactive waste may contain non-radioactive constituents.� Radioactive waste is therefore regulated in the same manner as all other materials that contain a nuclear substance. All radioactive waste, whether from a large nuclear facility or a small-scale user, is subject to the Joint Convention, with the exception of:

  • reprocessed spent fuel,
  • naturally occurring radioactive materials, and
  • military and defence programs.

C.3�����Reprocessed spent fuel

Given Canada's large natural resource of uranium, the nuclear industry has not deemed it necessary to reprocess spent fuel at this time. Therefore, pursuant to Article 3(1) of the Joint Convention, Canada declares that reprocessing activities are not part of Canada's spent fuel management program and so are not included in this report. Note, however, that CRL did reprocess spent fuel in the 1940s to 60s to extract plutonium. The wastes from these activities are discussed in this report.

In accordance with Article 3(1), medical isotope production fuel is also excluded from the report because it is processed to extract isotopes, and so is outside the scope of the Joint Convention and protected from disclosure under Article 36.

C.4�����Naturally occurring radioactive materials

Naturally occurring radioactive materials, other than those that are or have been associated with the development, production or use of nuclear energy, are exempt from the application of all provisions of the NSCA and its associated regulations, except:

  • provisions the pertain to the transport of radioactive materials, and
  • in the case of naturally occurring radioactive material listed in the schedule to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Import and Export Control Regulations, provisions that govern the import and export of radioactive materials.

In accordance with Article 3(2) of the Joint Convention, only non-exempt naturally occurring radioactive are discussed in this report, namely radium bearing wastes resulting from the former radium industry, and tailings and waste rock from uranium mines and mills.

C.5�����Department of National Defence programs

Though, under Section 5 of the NSCA, the Department of National Defence's programs are not subject to the NSCA or its associated regulations, the Royal Military College of Canada (RMC) slowpoke reactor is, because it is operated as a research reactor (see section H.3.6). Therefore, in accordance with Article 3(3), the RMC slowpoke reactor is the only military or defence program to be addressed in this report.


In accordance with Articles 3(4), 4, 7, 11, 14, 24 and 26, the management facilities of spent fuel, radioactive waste and uranium mines and mills are regulated throughout their entire lifecycle - from site preparation and construction to operation, decommissioning and finally abandonment. At each licence stage, operations must be carried out such that the dose to workers and the public must be as low as reasonably achievable, given economic and social factors. Occupational and public radiological exposure limits derive from internationally accepted standards such as those of the ICRP.

In addition, an environmental monitoring program must be in place to ensure that all reasonable precautions are taken to protect the environment and control the release of radioactive and hazardous substances into the environment at each licensing stage. Limits on the controlled release of gaseous or liquid wastes or solid materials have been adopted from complementary regulatory regimes such as the Provincial Water Quality Objectives or Metal Mining Limits for Liquid Effluent Releases, and derived from specific licence conditions, including the Derived Release limits.

For more information on discharges and ALARA, refer to section F.6. Radiological effluent discharge levels at licensed facilities are outlined in Annexes 4 through 8.

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