NRU reactor gets five more years

by Brendon Nafziger, DOTmed News Associate Editor | October 31, 2011
Canadian nuclear regulatory authorities renewed Atomic Energy of Canada Limited's license to operate the National Universal Research reactor for another 5 years, ensuring the medical isotope-producing workhorse stays online through 2016.

AECL got Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission's permission last week to keep the Chalk River Laboratories site, which includes the NRU, running from Nov. 1 through Oct. 31, 2016. The previous 63-month license expires Monday, AECL said.

The safety commission said they made the decision to renew the license following two public hearings, one in June and one earlier this month.
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The aging NRU, which has been operating in Chalk River, Ontario for nearly 54 years, produces five medical radioisotopes, and is one of the world's most important suppliers of molybdenum-99, the parent isotope of technetium-99m, used in nuclear medicine scans. In May 2009, after a heavy water leak was discovered, the NRU reactor was shut down for inspections and repairs until August 2010, triggering worldwide moly shortages.

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