Chalk River starts planned month-long closure

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Chalk River Laboratories, NRU Reactor
Image source: Atomic Energy of Canada Limited

The Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL) has reported that its Chalk River Laboratories will undergo a 33-day planned outage, which began on May 15 as part of its ongoing operations of the National Research Universal (NRU) nuclear reactor.

Over the past few years, the aging Chalk River reactor has undergone a series of unexpected closures, which has caused disruption to the distribution of technetium-99m (Tc-99m), the most widely used medical isotope globally.

During the outage, four separate in-vessel inspections will be completed. Since the May 15 outage, AECL said that a number of fuel rods and components have been removed from the NRU reactor vessel to make room for the tooling for the first two inspections. Final arrangements are under way to begin the first inspection this week.
The inspection tooling that will be used during the planned outage has been designed to allow the vessel to remain fuelled and filled with heavy water during inspection. Preventive and corrective maintenance also has begun on experimental Loops 1 and 2 of the reactor.

Other activities under way during the outage include upgrades to the existing fire alarm and detection system.