In Canada, the transportation of used nuclear fuel is jointly regulated by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) and Transport Canada. The NWMO will need to demonstrate to these authorities the safety and security of its transportation system.

The transportation system must also meet federal, provincial, and local safety requirements, and will be inspected for compliance.

Oversight by the CNSC

The CNSC regulates the transport of radioactive material through its Packaging and Transport of Nuclear Substances Regulations. These regulations are derived from standards published by the International Atomic Energy Agency. They cover the entire journey of a shipment, from the time it is packaged through to arrival at its destination.

The CNSC’s regulatory framework requires both a certificate for the transportation package and a licence to transport. It evaluates applications to confirm that safety and security measures are technically and scientifically sound, that all requirements are met, and that appropriate safety provisions are in place to protect people and the environment.

Elements of the NWMO's transportation program that would be covered in the CNSC's evaluation include: 

  • Use of a certified transport package
  • Training of workers and emergency responders
  • Maintenance of a radiation protection program 
  • Management of an emergency response plan
  •  Maintenance of security measures
  • Maintenance of records
  • Adherence to all regulatory requirements

Oversight by Transport Canada

Transport Canada, through its Transportation of Dangerous Goods Regulations, sets requirements for the movement of radioactive material. They include guidelines on training, emergency planning, safety marks, and documentation.

Transport Canada is responsible for: 

  • Establishing and enforcing transportation requirements for consignors and carriers
  • Establishing requirements and conducting inspections in areas such as training and documentation
  • Setting and enforcing requirements for Emergency Response Assistance Plans

Transport Canada also maintains the Canadian Transport Emergency Centre (CANUTEC). It assists emergency response personnel in handling dangerous goods emergencies on a 24-7 basis.

Transport Canada's regulations for the transportation of dangerous goods have been adopted at the provincial and territorial levels through agreements. Provincial governments, regulators, and ministries are responsible for activities that include the enforcement of provincial statutes, inspection, and response to transportation incidents.