OAG performance audit concludes low- and intermediate-level radioactive waste is effectively regulated in Canada

News release

October 4, 2022 – Ottawa

Today, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) welcomed the findings of the performance audit carried out by the Office of the Auditor General (OAG) on the management of low- and intermediate-level radioactive waste, which was tabled in Parliament by the OAG’s Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development.

The audit found that the CNSC “did a good job of managing the low- and intermediate-level radioactive waste that makes up 99.5% of Canada’s radioactive waste output. The entities’ management of this waste aligns with key international standards that seek to protect the environment and the safety of current and future generations”.

The CNSC is committed to maintaining and continuously improving its regulatory oversight as it relates to radioactive waste and ensuring that it aligns closely with international standards.

The OAG audit found that CNSC staff applied an approach that was commensurate with the nature of the waste and the complexity of the activities when verifying facilities that manage low- and intermediate-level radioactive waste, and that they had systematic and documented processes to develop risk-based plans for compliance verification activities.

In support of these findings, the OAG reported consistency in many aspects of the CNSC’s regulatory oversight, including:

  • documenting its approval of radioactive waste management programs and documents for all 26 facilities licensed for low- and intermediate-level waste
  • consistently documenting its approval of a licensee’s waste acceptance criteria when the licensee received radioactive waste from other sites in Canada
  • following up on all unplanned activity or event reports related to waste management during the audit period
  • consistently assessing annual and quarterly reports submitted by licensees

The audit also highlighted 3 areas for improvement. Specifically, the CNSC should:

  • more consistently document the rationale behind its compliance planning decisions
  • better integrate its compliance verification data and ensure effective controls for data entry
  • have a more detailed implementation plan for its digital strategy

“OAG audits are important checks on how we are fulfilling our mandate and serving the Canadian public,” said Rumina Velshi, CNSC President and CEO. “They also provide valuable feedback on how we can improve in these endeavours. The CNSC will address these recommendations in the spirit of continuous improvement.”

Quick facts

  • The OAG’s audit findings echo those of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s 2019 Integrated Regulatory Review Service mission, which reviewed the CNSC’s regulatory framework and determined that its oversight of radioactive waste aligns with international standards.

  • The OAG audit examined the work of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, Atomic Energy of Canada Limited and Natural Resources Canada under their respective mandates. It covered the period from January 1, 2019, to December 31, 2021.

Associated links


Grace Hart

Media Relations

Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission

613-996-6860 or 1-800-668-5284


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