Packaging and Transport of Nuclear Substances
All nuclear substances are transported in packages that are selected based on the nature, form, and quantity or activity of the substance. There are general design requirements that apply to all package types to ensure that they can be handled safely and easily, secured properly, and are able to withstand routine conditions of transport.
In addition, the CNSC issues licences and certificates for certain kinds of packaging and transport of nuclear substances as stipulated in the Packaging and Transport of Nuclear Substances Regulations (PTNS Regulations). The licences and certificates include:
- licence to transport Category I, II or III material
- licence to transport while in transit
- licence to package or transport under special arrangement
- certificates of packages and special form radioactive material
Certification of transport packages
The CNSC regulates all aspects of the packaging of radioactive material, including the design, production, use, inspection, maintenance and repair of packages. The PTNS Regulations require that certain types of packages be certified by the CNSC prior to being used in Canada.
Learn more about the certification process for transport packages.
See the list of CNSC Certified Transport Packages and Special Form Radioactive Material (PDF).
The transport of nuclear substances is a regulated activity in Canada, with CNSC licensees involved in the majority of shipments. In general, the transport of nuclear substances does not require a CNSC licence. The PTNS Regulations require that licences be issued only in the following circumstances:
- the transport of “in-transit” shipments, which refers to situations where nuclear substances are passing through Canada while travelling from one country to another
- special arrangement shipments where there are compensatory measures in place to ensure the safety of the shipment
- the transport of Category I, II and III nuclear material
Additional information on specific information requirements for each type of transport licence application can be found in sections 3–5 of the PTNS Regulations.
Most shipments transiting Canada have no Canadian licensee involved at the origin or at the destination. When nuclear substances are transported in packages requiring certification, a CNSC licence to transport is required. The application for such a licence must include information such as the name of the consignor, a description of the nuclear substances to be transported, the amount to be transported and the reason for selecting a route through Canada.
Shipments that cannot be transported in pre-approved packages
A licence to transport under special arrangement is required when a shipment cannot be transported in an already-approved package. The applicant must provide justification as to why the shipment cannot be made in any of the types of approved packages found in the PTNS Regulations and the IAEA TS-R-1 Regulations for the Safe Transport of Radioactive Materials (PDF), and must provide adequate compensatory measures to ensure the safety of the shipment under the PTNS Regulations.
Category I, II and III nuclear material
A CNSC licence to transport Category I, II or III nuclear material is required to transport material that is defined in section 1 of the Nuclear Security Regulations (PDF), such as plutonium, various grades of unirradiated uranium-235 and irradiated fuels consisting of depleted or natural uranium, thorium or low-enriched fuel.
Read about the licensing process for the transportation of nuclear substances.
The regulatory guide G-208, Transportation Security Plans for Category I, II or III Nuclear Material (PDF) offers assistance in preparing a written transportation security plan as required under section 5 of the Nuclear Security Regulations when applying for these licences.
- CNSC Packaging and Transport of Nuclear Substances Regulations
- Transport Canada’s Transportation of Dangerous Good Regulations
- CNSC regulatory document RD-364, Joint Canada – United States Guide for Approval of Type B(U) and Fissile Material Transportation Packages (PDF)
- CNSC guidance document GD-314, Radiation Protection Program Design for the Transport of Nuclear Substances (PDF)
- IAEA TS-G-1.1, Advisory Material for the IAEA Regulations for the Safe Transport of Radioactive Material (PDF)
- Frequently asked questions on packaging and transporting nuclear substances
- Frequently asked questions on the transportation of used nuclear fuel
- CNSC fact sheets:
The Packaging and Transport of Nuclear Substances Regulations were amended effective December 21, 2011. For more information, please consult the Amendments to the Packaging and Transport of Nuclear Substances Regulations.