National Sealed Source Registry and Sealed Source Tracking System Report for 2018
Sealed sources are radioactive nuclear substances encased in a sealed capsule or in a cover to which the substance is bonded. A source’s capsule or cover is strong enough to prevent contact with, or dispersion of, the substance under the conditions for which the capsule or cover is designed. Sealed sources can be used for a variety of activities, including medical, industrial, commercial, and academic and research applications. An inventory of sealed sources within Canada is housed in the National Sealed Source Registry (NSSR), which was established in 2006 to conform to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Code of Conduct on the Safety and Security of Radioactive Sources. The NSSR is used to maintain an accurate and secure inventory of sealed sources in Canada, with a particular focus on those classified as high risk.
The Sealed Source Tracking System (SSTS) is a secure information-management system used in conjunction with the NSSR to track new and existing high-risk sources within Canada. Source transfers done online through the SSTS update and populate the NSSR so that the information is as current as the licence reporting allows (e.g., reporting within two days of receipt and seven days in advance of any transfer). The CNSC places particular emphasis on capturing data on high risk sources, with the NSSR housing detailed information such as the source serial number, isotope, activity, and current location. Information on moderate- and low-risk sources is updated annually using the inventory data included in licensee's annual compliance reports (ACRs) and validated by the CNSC for accuracy and consistency.
Categories of sealed sources
Sealed sources are classified by the IAEA into five different categories:
For more information on how sealed sources are categorized, consult the CNSC website.
By the end of 2018, the NSSR contained information on 124,434 radioactive sealed sources in Canada. The SSTS actively tracks Category 1 and 2 sources. In 2018, 6,627 Category 1 and 61,571 Category 2 sources were tracked. The remaining 56,236 in the NSSR were Category 3, 4 or 5, which are not subject to mandatory tracking for every movement.
Sealed Source Inventory Trends
The number of sources located in Canada increases every year, mainly due to source manufacturers accepting returned sources for recycling, reuse and long-term storage. Figure 1 shows the total number of sealed sources, as well as the number of sealed sources in each category, that were accounted for in Canada on December 31, 2018. In 2018, there was an 8% increase in the number of high-risk sources compared to 2017, with the majority of the increase coming from the production of Category 2 sources. This is consistent with the year-over-year rate of increase since 2015. The increase in Category 3 sealed sources was primarily attributed to the return of sealed sources no longer suitable for use in prescribed equipment and to the decay of Category 2 sources held by licensees.
Performance measures and verification
To gauge the effectiveness of the SSTS and verify the accuracy of the data in the system, CNSC inspectors physically cross-reference SSTS data against licensees’ actual inventory of sealed sources. Routine CNSC compliance inspections include the verification of sealed source tracking information. Inconsistencies are immediately addressed to ensure accuracy in the data.
In 2018, CNSC inspectors verified licensees’ compliance with sealed source tracking requirements during 116 inspections. Of these, licensees were compliant in 114 (98%) of cases. The two licensees that were initially found to be non-compliant have adequately addressed the issues identified during the inspections. The issues of non-compliance included an incomplete inventory in the NSSR/SSTS, and failure to notify the CNSC of exports within the required time frame.
For more information on inspection results of Canadian licensees using nuclear substances relative to doses to workers, radiation protection, operating performance and sealed source security, refer to the annual Regulatory Oversight Report on the Use of Nuclear Substances in Canada.
Licensees must immediately report lost or stolen nuclear substances to the CNSC and must also submit descriptions of any actions taken or proposed to recover missing nuclear substances. The CNSC investigates every such event and informs local, national, and international stakeholders who may assist with recovery. A list of events involving sealed sources can be found in the Lost or Stolen Sealed Sources and Radiation Devices Report.
The International Nuclear and Radiation Events Scale (INES) is a tool for communicating the safety significance of nuclear and radiological events to technical communities and the public. Every event reported from the commercial, academic and research, industrial, and medical sectors is classified in accordance with the INES, based on its safety significance rating. Of the following events, two events were rated as INES Level 1 (anomaly). All other events were rated as INES Level 0, which are considered below scale and have no safety significance.
A total of 87 sealed sources were involved in 19 events in 2018. Of these sources, 76 were lost (3 later recovered), 7 were stolen (5 later recovered), and 3 were found. These sources were classified as Category 4 or 5, which are low- to very low-risk.
Figures 3 and 4 present data on lost and stolen sources in Canada from 2014 to 2018.
Notes for figure 3:
The NSSR is populated by licensees reporting their transactions via the online SSTS interface or by other means (such as fax or email). Figures 5, 6, and 7 show transactions entered in the SSTS in 2018, statistics for import and export of sealed sources, and the percentage of online SSTS transactions from 2014 to 2018, respectively. The CNSC publishes SSTS transaction data as part of the Government of Canada’s Open Data initiative.
Compared to 2017, licensees’ made fewer modifications to export and transfer dates in 2018, resulting in a 53 % decrease in the number of “change” transactions recorded for the year. This was the biggest contributor to the year-over-year drop number of transactions recorded in 2018.
- Create: Creation of a new source manufactured in Canada
- Exchange: Replacement of one source with another in a radiation device or Class II prescribed equipment at a licensed location
- Export: Transfer of a sealed source from Canada to a foreign destination
- Import: Transfer of a sealed source to Canada from a foreign location
- Receive: Reception of sources by licensees at licensed locations
- Transfer: A change in possession of a sealed source, from one licensee to another where both licensees are located within Canada, or the movement of a sealed source from one licensee's location to another, where both places are located within Canada.
- Change: Transaction date change or correction
- Cancel: Cancellation of transaction due to unforeseen circumstances (e.g., export and shipment cancellations, delayed transfers)
A total 68,885 transactions were recorded in 2018, which represents a 9% decrease compared to the number of transactions recorded in 2017.
|Number of sources imported into Canada||14307||14924||11577||14858||14307|
|Number of sources exported from Canada||19047||17029||17311||18491||16999|
Users of nuclear substances in Canada routinely import and export sealed sources in accordance with their licences. There was a 9% decrease in the number of exports, and a 4 % decrease in the number of imports in 2018, compared to 2017. In 2018, there was a decrease in the number of sources exported by manufacturing companies, despite almost no change in the number of sources that were created.
|Percentage of Web transactions relative to number of transactions||94||93||95||94||91|
Licensees report transactions online (through the SSTS Web portal) or via email or fax to the CNSC. Transactions reported to the CNSC via email or fax are entered into the system by CNSC staff on behalf of the licensee.
In 2018, 91% of all transactions were done via the SSTS Web portal. This proportion is slightly lower than the previous four years.
Licensees’ continued use of the SSTS indicate that its implementation, as well as that of the NSSR, has been effective, and that Canada is maintaining its commitment to the Code of Conduct on the Safety and Security of Radioactive Sources.
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