Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL) said 18 August that it has harvested the first molybdenum-99 isotopes from the NRU reactor since it shut down for repairs in May 2009. AECL president and CEO Hugh MacDiarmid said that there is a sense of pride in achievement of the groundbreaking weld repairs, but also relief that that the long project has finally been completed.

AECL chief nuclear officer Bill Pilkington says NRU is currently in steady high power operation, all of the systems are in service and isotopes are being harvested.

The reactor is now moving into its regular 28-day operating cycle, he said. The reactor will operate at high power for 23 days and then be shutdown for a five-day maintenance period.

“We need to continue the maintenance and inspection programme going forward so that the vessel continues to remains in a state of perfect health,” said Pilkington.

MacDiarmid says the return to service project had to be managed extremely carefully and that AECL brought in high-quality advisors, consultants and reviewers to ensure that all necessary steps were carried out during the repair.

“We’re now in a situation where we have delivered the reactor back into service and it is going to continue to operate reliably,’ MacDiarmid said.

NRU produces radioisotopes, but also carries out materials testing for the Canadian nuclear industry and provides neutrons for National Research Council neutron scattering experiments.

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