Companies vie for Chalk River reactor

Photo courtesy of the National Research Council

Thursday, Aug. 4, 2011 – Globe and Mail

Over more than half a century, the reactor in Chalk River, Ont., has produced a Nobel prize and boosted Canada’s stature as a nuclear innovator, acting as a magnet for budding researchers.

It’s also been the source of deep national embarrassment thanks to an unscheduled outage at the aging reactor in 2009 that led to a global shortage of medical isotopes.

Now it’s been effectively orphaned as Ottawa sells off the CANDU reactor arm of its parent company, Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd.

That divestiture is forcing the federal government to decide whether to continue running it and eventually replace the reactor, operate it until it is too old to repair any more and shut it down, bring in private-sector partners to help run and finance it, or some combination of these options.

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