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Public Commission hearings

The Commission makes decisions on the licensing of major nuclear facilities through a public hearing process.

The public hearing gives involved parties and members of the public an opportunity to be heard before the Commission. Following a public hearing, the Commission deliberates and makes its decision on the matter. The Commission renders decisions according to service standards, depending on the nature and complexity of the files. The Commission also holds public meetings.

One-part or two-part hearings

Commission hearings are governed by Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission Rules of Procedure, under the Nuclear Safety and Control Act. Public hearings usually take place in a one or two-part process. Two-part public hearings take place on days that are usually 60 days apart. Most decisions involving major nuclear facilities are made through the two-part public hearing process.

One-part public hearing process

For a one-part hearing, all of the evidence from the applicant, CNSC staff and intervenors is heard by the Commission in a single hearing session. To allow potential intervenors to review the proposal and prepare for the hearing, written submissions from the applicant and CNSC staff must be filed at least 60 days prior to the hearing day.

Intervenors are then invited to register their submissions at least 30 days prior to the hearing. Participants may file supplementary information up to seven days prior to the hearing day.

Commission hearings are normally open to the public, but some are also be held in-camera (closed session) in whole or in part. For example, certain protected information may not be discussed in a public forum.

During a public hearing, simultaneous interpretation in one or the other of Canada's official languages is provided when necessary. Verbatim transcripts are produced and published on CNSC’s website the week following each hearing day. The Commission's decision and its reasons for decision are normally published within six weeks after the conclusion of the hearing.

Two-part public hearing process

During Part 1 of a two-part public hearing, the applicant and CNSC staff present written and oral submissions to the Commission and respond to questions from the Commission. 

As with a one-part hearing, intervenors are invited to register their submissions at least 30 days prior to the hearing. Participants may file supplementary information up to seven days prior to the hearing day.

During Part 2, which usually takes place 60 days after Part 1, registered intervenors have an opportunity to make their views known to the Commission and to respond to any related questions from the Commission Members.

Usually, 30 days before Hearing Part 2, intervenors may file their intervention requests and submissions.  This means that intervenors have 30 days to review the information presented during Part 1 and submit their request before Part 2.

The applicant and CNSC staff must also attend Part 2 and be prepared to respond to further questioning by the Commission. 

How the CNSC chooses where to hold Commission hearings

In the spirit of openness and transparency, the CNSC prides itself on holding Commission hearings in the communities that will be most affected by the decision at hand, when possible.

When considering a hearing location, the CNSC looks for available venues (such as hotels, conference centres and recreation facilities) that meet its requirements for proximity to the relevant nuclear facility. Local municipalities and tourism associations are also contacted in an attempt to find an optimal location that can accommodate the hearing’s duration, the expected number of intervenors, and the necessary technical services. In addition, the CNSC insists that the location be wheelchair accessible.

Watch a public Commission hearing or meeting

CNSC offers online videos, or webcasts, of its public hearings and meetings.  If you are interested in learning about what happens at a public hearing or meeting, watch public Commission hearings or meetings online.

Participate in a public Commission hearing

Members of the public are welcome to observe hearings or to formally participate as intervenors. Find out more on how to participate in a public Commission hearing.

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