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Section I Transboundary Movement

I.1  Scope of the section

This section addresses Article 27 (Transboundary Movement) of the Joint Convention and provides information on Canada's experience and practices pertaining to the transboundary movement of radioactive material. The information in this section demonstrates that such movements are undertaken in a manner consistent with the provisions of the Joint Convention and relevant binding international instruments.

I.2 Introduction

The Canadian laws and regulations used to control imports and exports in accordance with Canada's bilateral and multilateral agreements are as follows:

  • NSCA and the associated Nuclear Non-Proliferation Import and Export Control Regulations,
  • CEPA and the associated Export and Import of Hazardous Wastes Regulations, and
  • Export and Import Permits Act.

The NSCA deals specifically with nuclear substances, while the other acts and regulations are more generic and deal with other environmentally significant substances.

I.3 Controlled substances

Licences issued by the CNSC stipulate limitations on licensees' ability to import and export the nuclear substances they possess.

The Export and Import Permits Act and the NSCA list substances that require authorization to be legally exported from Canada and that have no de minimus quantities. International Trade Canada (ITC) administers these lists and regulations under the Export and Import Permits Act, and the CNSC under the NSCA.

The list consists of the following materials and radioisotopes, which are considered significant for nuclear weapons proliferation and, in accordance with the NSCA, are referred to as "controlled nuclear substances":

  • Plutonium,
  • Uranium depleted in U-235,
  • Thorium,
  • Tritium,
  • Radium-226 (greater than 370 MBq),
  • Uranium-233 and Uranium-235, or material containing either isotope,
  • Alpha-emitting radioisotopes with a half-life of 10 days or greater, but less than 200 years, with a total alpha activity of 37 GBq/kg or greater (with the exception of material with less than 3.7 GBq of total alpha activity), and
  • Fresh and spent nuclear reactor fuel, including uranium ore concentrate.

A sealed source of a radioisotope not contained in the list above, which has been designated as surplus waste, may not require a specific licence to export. However, under current Canadian regulations, the licence must authorize export or import activities; otherwise, the licensee must obtain a formal authorization from the regulatory body to export or import.

I.4 Exporting state

The CNSC and ITC have adopted a one-door approach for applying for export authorizations required under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Import and Export Control Regulations and the Export and Import Permits Act for substances listed in section I.3. The application for a permit is sent to ITC four to six weeks before the scheduled export to allow sufficient time to process, consult intra- and inter- departmentally and issue the CNSC licence and the ITC export permit. The ITC provides a copy of the permit to the CNSC, which then extracts the data it needs to evaluate the proposed licence. It is important to note that both the permit and licence application evaluations are performed independently and in parallel with each other.

A substance is subject to a Nuclear Cooperation Agreement (NCA) if it is intended for nuclear use (presumably in a nuclear reactor). Of the substances listed in section I.3, only uranium, plutonium and thorium would be made subject to an NCA. Deuterium and heavy water, along with nuclear-grade graphite (which are also controlled nuclear substances under the NSCA, but not listed in section I.3) could be subject to an NCA if they are to be used in a reactor.

As a matter of policy, Canada establishes NCAs with any country to which nuclear substances, equipment and technology may be exported for nuclear use. This ensures that the materials will be used for peaceful, non-explosive purposes. The substances can still be exported to countries with which Canada does not have an NCA, as long as they are for non-nuclear use. Canada also imports substances from countries with which it may not currently have NCAs.

Typically, the shipping state is required to notify the importing state if the shipping state wishes to make the material subject to the NCA. Often, a notification of shipment is also expected by the importing state, so that it can make the necessary preparations. These notifications are typically done directly between governmental authorities via established information channels. In Canada, the CNSC is responsible for transmitting prior notifications.

I.5 State of destination

Possession licences issued by the CNSC specify the nuclear substance(s) that the licensee is authorized to hold. These possession licences also authorize certain types and maximum quantities of nuclear substances to be imported without further authorizations. When substances are imported (as described in section I.3) specific authorizations must be obtained. These authorizations verify that the applicant holds the necessary possession licences for receiving and properly handling the nuclear substances. If the applicant does not hold the necessary licence, the applicant would be notified of the requirements for holding the substance shown in the application.

The Canada Border Services Agency assists the CNSC in administering the Nuclear Non- Proliferation Import and Export Control Regulations. A valid the CNSC licence must be presented to a customs officer for nuclear substance items that are imported or exported. If a valid licence is not available, movement of the material is not allowed.

All Canadian shippers and receivers of safeguarded nuclear material must report the transfers to the CNSC.

I.6 Destination south of latitude 60 degrees

Antarctica is the only land mass south of 60 degrees latitude in the southern hemisphere as defined under the Antarctic Treaty (1959). Seven states currently claim unofficial sovereignty rights to portions of Antarctica. Canada is not one of the seven states. The procedures for ensuring that radioactive material is not transferred to Antarctica are the same as for other destinations. In addition, this international obligation was incorporated under Canadian national law through the CEPA.

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