In a January 13 statement, AECL noted, "If there are continuing challenges with the repair process, the NRU return-to-service schedule could extend into April."
Repairs began on December 12, 2009, and the work "is proving effective," AECL stated, but "is progressing at a slower pace than originally anticipated. ... To date, 27% of the repair activities have been completed."
AECL added that it will take 10 days after repairs are completed and the facility starts operating again to begin medical isotope production.
Repairs to the 52-year-old facility, which normally supplies 50% of the medical isotopes used in the U.S., were scheduled for completion in March. The reactor has been offline since May 2009 due to a major water leak.
A delayed restart of Chalk River could exacerbate the tenuous global supply of medical isotopes. Dutch radiopharmaceutical producer Nuclear Research and Consultancy Group (NRG) will begin repairs to its High Flux Reactor on February 19.
Work on the reactor in Petten, Netherlands, is expected to keep the facility offline until late August.
AECL requests uranium from U.S., January 7, 2010
AECL reactor repairs on schedule, December 24, 2009
Canada takes bids on AECL unit, December 18, 2009
Canadian panel promotes new reactor, December 8, 2009
AECL: Chalk River repair will cost $70M, October 20, 2009
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