November 14, 2011

Urgent Advisory to ACEC Member Firms - Action Required
ACEC opposes proposal by Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission potentially costing firms up to $500,000


Many ACEC member firms use portable nuclear densometers (portable gauges to determine levels of aggregate compaction on construction sites) and operate laboratories that carry out a broad array of testing services on construction materials, manufactured goods, minerals, air, water and soil and more. They play a vital role in helping to protect the health and safety of Canadians and safeguard the environment. These firms are currently licensed by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) to own and operate these gauges, and undergo annual audits by CNSC to ensure compliance with their requirements. 


CNSC is now proposing that firms provide a financial guarantee that would cover costs associated with the disposal of gauges in the event of bankruptcy or termination of operations. The proposed guarantees will impose an additional $10,000 “administrative fee” on each license as well as an additional $3,000 for each device.

The potential liability to some ACEC member firms could be anywhere in the range of $15,000to approximately $500,000.

In total, the CNSC will collect close to $100 million, with $14 million of that coming from portable gauge users. 

The size of the proposed financial guarantees is completely out of proportion to the risk. CSNC has never had a single case of incurring costs associated with the disposal of a portable gauge, due to insolvency. In fact, there is rarely a need to dispose of a working gauge, as the market for the resale of these units make them assets. Further, the proposed financial guarantee presumes that all firms with such equipment would cease operations simultaneously.

The additional costs to firms resulting from the proposed financial guarantees that would be required by CNSC amount to a significant lost opportunity for the industry - reducing its capacity to reinvest in its businesses, expand R&D, purchase new equipment and technology and hire more people.

The Canadian Council of Independent Laboratories (CCIL) and the Canadian Construction Association (CCA) are also in opposition to this proposal by the CNSC.


ACEC categorically opposes the financial guarantees proposed by CNSC. The guarantees are unjustified and will cause financial hardship for many consulting engineering firms.

However, ACEC and other affected stakeholders are prepared to have constructive discussions with CNSC in order to understand and resolve any legitimate concerns.


ACEC is has already been in direct contact with the CNSC on behalf of its member firms. Depending on the outcome of its discussions with CNSC, ACEC will raise the issue with Members of Parliament including the Honourable Joe Oliver, Minister of Natural Resources to whom the CNSC reports.

ACEC also intends to make both written and oral presentations at public hearings to be held by the Commission Tribunal in April 2012 prior to the Tribunal making its decision on the CNSC proposal.

ACEC is coordinating its activities on this matter with other affected stakeholders including the CCIL and CCA.


ACEC members may view the CNSC proposal and express their concerns directly using the CSNC on-line comment section:

ACEC members may also wish to advise their local Member of Parliament. You may locate your Member of Parliament and his or her contact information here:


Association of Consulting Engineering
Companies | Canada
420 - 130 Albert St., Ottawa ON K1P 5G4
Tel.: 1-800-565-0569 Fax: (613) 236-6193