The Canadian government will support continued function of the National Research Universal (NRU) reactor between Oct. 31, 2016 and March 31, 2018, subject to approval by Canada’s independently run Nuclear Safety Commission.
Minister of Natural Resources Greg Rickford announced the government's decision on Friday.
The extension of the NRU is intended to support international demand for medical isotopes, which are a very small quantity of radioactive substance used to safely image and treat disease, in case of shortages.
Canadian Nuclear Laboratories Ltd. (CNL), which runs the reactor, plans to decommission the NRU after March 31, 2018. The NRU was brought online in 1957 at Chalk River Laboratories in eastern Ontario. It has experienced unexpected shutdowns resulting in costs to taxpayers in the past.
“Since announcing our plans to restructure our nuclear laboratories, our government has acted responsibly to ensure the security of supply of medical isotopes," the Office of the Minister of Natural Resources said in a statement. "Our support for this extension demonstrates our ongoing commitment to a responsible transition of our laboratories that supports global medical isotope supply.”
CNL will continue to work in nuclear science and technology to aid government and industry.