The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission said yesterday it has cleared Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. to restart the nuclear reactor which is one of the world's largest production facilities for medical isotopes.
The corporation said a leak at the reactor, which has been out of service for more than a year, cost about $90 million to fix.
The news that AECL has been given the okay to reload fuel into the reactor comes two days after a public hearing on the issue was held in Ottawa, in which AECL -a Crown corporation -was seeking approval to restart the National Research Universal reactor at Chalk River, Ont.
"The commission concludes that AECL is qualified to carry out the activities that will be permitted under its current operating licence and that it will make adequate provision for the protection of the environment, the health and safety of persons, and the maintenance of national security," said a CNSC release yesterday.
The Chalk River reactor was shutdown in May 2009 after a 65,000-litre containment vessel began leaking radioactive heavy water. To repair the leak in the wall of the vessel, AECL cut the fuel supply to the reactor and drained the heavy water.
Before the shutdown, the reactor produced 30 to 40 per cent of the world's medical isotope supply. Its loss precipitated a worldwide shortage of the isotopes used to treat cancer, heart disease and other illnesses.