CNSC regulatory policy on particle accelerators operating at or above a beam energy of 1 MeV

Following a recent review of the Class II Nuclear Facilities and Prescribed Equipment Regulations and policies relating to accelerators, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) is changing its policy concerning the regulation of particle accelerators. The CNSC will now begin to exercise its regulatory authority with respect to all particle accelerators operating at a beam energy of 1 (one) megaelectron-volt (MeV) or greater.

Accelerators operating at or above 1.5 MeV beam energy are capable of producing nuclear energy and therefore subject to the Nuclear Safety and Control Act (NSCA) and its regulations (for ease of application, the CNSC will use 1 MeV, rather than 1.5 MeV as the threshold beam energy). Accordingly, the facilities where these accelerators are used must meet the requirements of the NSCA and the applicable regulations, and must now operate under an appropriate Class I or Class II nuclear facility licence. Furthermore, in accordance with section 10 of the Class II Nuclear Facilities and Prescribed Equipment Regulations, particle accelerators that meet the definition of Class II prescribed equipment must be certified by the CNSC.

The CNSC already licenses and inspects particle accelerators capable of operating at or above 10 MeV. The decision to now include low-energy particle accelerators (i.e., those operating at or above 1 MeV) will ensure adequate, uniform and consistent regulatory oversight for all Class II accelerators. All organizations in Canada that operate or service accelerators at or above 1 MeV will now be subject to CNSC regulatory action, where necessary, to ensure that public and worker safety is never compromised.

Particle accelerator facilities operating at or above 1 MeV should be fully compliant with the CNSC's new regulatory requirements by December 31, 2013.

Regulatory requirements

Equipment certification requirements

All prescribed equipment, including low-energy accelerators, will need to be certified prior to licensing unless otherwise exempted by the regulations (such as research accelerators not used on humans).

Consult the list of certified Class II equipment (PDF) to see if your accelerator is already certified by the CNSC.

If your accelerator is not on the list and you wish to certify it, you must apply for certification using form RD/GD-254 Certification of Radiation Devices or Class II Prescribed Equipment (PDF) (see the corresponding application guide for instructions on filling out the form).

Consult the Class II Nuclear Facilities and Prescribed Equipment Regulations for certification requirements and exemptions.

Licensing requirements

If you are a new applicant operating a non-radiotherapy accelerator facility, you must apply for a licence using form RD/GD-289 Class II Non-radiotherapy Accelerator Facilities (PDF) (see the corresponding application guide for instructions on filling out the form). If you are currently licensed by the CNSC for a non-medical accelerator, you may add the particle accelerator to your existing operating licence using the same application form as above.

If you are a new applicant operating a medical accelerator facility, you must apply for a licence using the form RD/GD 120 – Radiotherapy (PDF) (see the corresponding application guide for instructions on filling out the form). If you are currently licensed by the CNSC for a medical accelerator, please fill out the medical accelerator application short form (PDF) to amend your current licence.

In addition to requiring a licence to operate these facilities, the CNSC also requires that organizations wishing to service particle accelerators be licensed. If you wish to perform servicing operations, you must apply for a servicing licence using form RD/GD-207 Service Class II Prescribed Equipment (PDF) (see the corresponding application guide for instructions on filling out the form).

Licensing fees

Along with a completed application form and supporting documentation, your submission to the CNSC must also include the licence application fee (unless exempted under Section 2 of the CNSC's cost recovery fees regulations).

For industrial and mobile accelerators see the frequently asked questions on the licensing costs associated with low-energy accelerators. A signed acknowledgement (PDF) of the fees applicable to Class II facility licences is also required.

For other accelerator facilities fees, see the CNSC Cost Recovery Fees Schedule Formula and Fixed Fees 2017–18 (PDF).

Additional information
Consult RD/GD-289 Version 2: Licence Application Guide, Class II Non-radiotherapy Accelerator Facilities for information on regulatory requirements for particle accelerators, and guidance on how these requirements can be satisfied.
Any questions or concerns on this matter can be directed to your CNSC project officer, or be submitted by email to the CNSC.