AECL reactor down 'at least three months'

Atomic Energy of Canada (AECL) estimates that its nuclear reactor at Chalk River, Ontario, which produces the majority of the molybdenum-99 isotope for North America, will be offline "at least three months."

The projection came in a written statement from AECL senior vice president and chief nuclear officer Bill Pilkington.

In the same statement, AECL president and CEO Hugh MacDiarmid said it is "premature" to know how long the reactor will be offline. "Until all investigations are completed," he said, "it is premature at this point to set a definitive timeline for the return to service of the [National Research Universal (NRU)] reactor."

So far, AECL has lowered the heavy water level in the reactor vessel to reduce the water leak that initially caused the unscheduled shutdown on May 15.

MDS Nordion confirmed AECL's three-month-plus timetable in a May 28 notice to its customers. The Ottawa-based firm also warned its customers to prepare for "a significant shortage of isotopes."

Related Reading

MDS Nordion opens new FDG facility in Belgium, May 28, 2009

AECL ponders Chalk River repairs, May 26, 2009

Hospitals brace for shortage of medical isotopes, May 22, 2009

Reimbursement, molybdenum-99 shortage top SNM agenda, May 22, 2009

MDS Nordion to partner on isotope alternative study, April 28, 2009

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