Canada’s nuclear history
On October 12, 1946, the Atomic Energy Control Act was proclaimed. Under the act, the Government of Canada established the Atomic Energy Control Board (AECB) as a regulatory agency to provide for "control and supervision of the development, application and use of atomic energy and to enable Canada to participate effectively in measures of international control of atomic energy."
On May 31, 2000, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) was formed under the new Nuclear Safety and Control Act. The CNSC replaced the AECB, which had been Canada's nuclear regulator for more than 50 years. The new legislation provided the CNSC with a stronger, more modern legislative basis to carry out its various responsibilities. The act sets out the CNSC's mandate, responsibilities and powers. It provides the CNSC with the authority to regulate the development, production and use of nuclear energy and the production, possession and use of nuclear substances, prescribed equipment and prescribed information in Canada.
Canada has a rich history of nuclear safety. Nuclear safety means protecting health and the environment at every stage in the nuclear fuel cycle – from uranium mining to power generation, nuclear research, nuclear facilities and prescribed equipment, industrial and medical applications of nuclear materials and waste disposal. We also monitor for environmental impacts from nuclear activities, and fulfill Canada’s international commitments on non-proliferation.
Check out Nuclear Regulation: By the Decade for a closer look at regulation history. Each article explores a decade in the evolution of Canada’s nuclear regulating body and highlights the important events of the time.
- 1945–1955: Creation of a Canadian nuclear regulator
- 1956–1965: AECB adopts regulatory role over nuclear research at Chalk River Laboratories
- 1966–1975: Exciting firsts for Canada and the Atomic Energy Control Board
- 1976–1985: The AECB – Overcoming challenges – Reaching milestones
- 1986–2000: A modern regulator with comprehensive legislation – Enter the NSCA
- 2001–2016: CNSC today – The ongoing activities of Canada’s nuclear watchdog
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