More than 70 organisations have submitted responses to a request for expressions of interest in small modular reactors (SMRs), Canadian National Laboratories (CNL) said on 18 August. More than 15 responses expressed interest in the construction of a prototype or demonstration SMR at a CNL site. Canada’s nuclear science and technology organisation earlier this year published a long-term strategy including the goal of siting a new SMR on its Chalk River site by 2026. CNL's Chalk River Laboratories in Ontario is the home to the National Research Universal (NRU) reactor, which is due to close down on 31 March 2018 after 60 years of operations. During that time, the NRU has been one of the largest and most versatile high-flux research reactors in the world, and an important supplier of medical isotopes. Over the next 10 years, the site is to be developed to support the nuclear research needs of the Canadian government and the science and technology needs of the Canadian and global nuclear industry.

The request for expressions of interest, which was issued in June and closed on 31 July, received input from technology developers, potential end users, and other interested parties and stakeholders, including host communities, the nuclear supply chain and research and academic institutions. CNL vice-president of research and development Kathryn McCarthy said in the statement that CNL faces a very long journey before the construction of a prototype SMR reactor at Chalk River, but the expressions of interest represent a strong start to the process. CNL president and CEO Mark Lesinski said CNL wants to serve as the global hub of the SMR development community. "The request was issued to give us a better understanding of the industry's interest in pursuing SMR technology, and the part that CNL could play in that process. I'm happy to say that the response has been beyond our expectations," he noted. CNL will publish a summary of its findings after it has reviewed and analysed the submissions.