Canadian NRU reactor completes safety maintenance

Twitter icon
Facebook icon
LinkedIn icon
e-mail icon
Google icon

The safety maintenance that caused last year's shutdown of Chalk River's NRU reactor in Ottawa, and led to a Canadian Act of Parliament to restart it, has been completed.
Atomic Energy of Canada (AECL) issued a statement Monday that, as of last weekend, both of the new DC motor starters for pumps 104 and 105 are now connected and operational with NRU's emergency power system (EPS), according to The Daily Observer.

“Connection and commissioning of the seismically qualified EPS DC motor starter for pump 104 has been completed. Work was completed during a regularly-scheduled maintenance outage from Jan. 27 through Feb. 1. NRU resumed operation on Saturday, Feb. 2 at 12:40 am," according to the AECL statement.

Work on pump 105 was completed Dec. 14, 2007, two days after the passage of the emergency parliamentary legislation, which ordered the reactor be restarted as soon as the work on the pump had been completed. The reactor was restarted on Dec. 16, 2007.

Brian McGee, AECL's senior vice-president and chief nuclear officer, told the Observer that the company is committed to the safe and reliable operation of the NRU reactor and thanked the employees who worked "so diligently and professionally to safely complete the procurement of parts, connection of equipment and commissioning of the EPS.”

The NRU reactor, which produces two-thirds of the world's supply of medical isotopes, was shut down on Nov. 18, 2007 for regularly scheduled maintenance and scheduled to go back online five days later. However, it remained inactive due to pressure from the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC).

The CNSC said the NRU had been operating without connecting required emergency power backup for two of its eight cooling pumps, work the CNSC stated was part of NRU’s operating license renewal agreement. The AECL disagreed, but kept the reactor off while staff worked on the pumps, connecting them to a backup power supply, until Parliament allowed them to reopen.