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Strategic Environmental Assessment: Nuclear Cooperation Agreements

Canada's Approach to Current and Future Nuclear Cooperation Agreements

A Nuclear Cooperation Agreement (NCA) is a bilateral treaty which provides the framework for cooperation between Canada and another country in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, including nuclear trade and collaboration.

While an NCA itself does not directly lead to any environmental impacts, a Detailed Analysis of Canada’s approach to current and future NCAs was conducted in accordance with the Cabinet Directive on Environmental Assessment of Policies, Plans, and Program proposals. The Detailed Analysis has identified potential positive environmental effects of nuclear trade and collaboration, which include the development of clean, reliable nuclear energy technologies, the production of electricity without the generation of green house gases (GHG) emissions, and the supply of fresh water. Should environmental regulations and measures not be respected, potential negative environmental impacts related to the development of nuclear energy would include the mismanagement of radioactive waste, exposure of the public and workers to higher doses of radiation, and the potential for nuclear accidents resulting in the release of harmful radiation.

Before Canada engages in nuclear cooperation with a new partner country, it will take into account environmental considerations, especially the partner country's capacity to enforce environmental standards and commitment to respect its international environmental obligations. Canada will ensure that nuclear projects within Canada are subject to environmental assessments in order to mitigate any negative environmental impact that may arise from such projects. In addition, Canadian nuclear industry has and will continue to collaborate with its overseas counterparts in the preparation of environmental assessments for nuclear projects abroad.

As Canada pursues NCAs with new partners, it will ensure that any cooperation undertaken shall be in accordance with the laws, regulations and policies in force in their respective jurisdictions. Should the opportunity arise, Canada and the partner country can also decide to collaborate on safety, environmental and regulatory aspects of the production of nuclear energy. Finally, Canada will continue to work to improve its nuclear technology designs, and work closely with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and bilateral partners in promoting higher levels of safe, reliable, and environmentally friendly nuclear generation.

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