Saturday, April 08, 2006

Kanata is the Most Radioactive Place in Ottawa

Canada's Nuclear History

We had one SLOWPOKE-2 reactor at MDS Nordion's facility in Kanata.

1984 Jun 1 20 kWth SLOWPOKE at AECL Kanata attained first criticality.
1989 Apr 1 20 kWth SLOWPOKE Reactor at AECL Medical Products (now MDS Nordion) in Kanata shut down.

SLOWPOKE (Safe LOW POwer Critical(K) Experiment) research reactor was developed by AECL at Chalk River, and first went critical in May 1970

1965 Aug 16 AECL's Commercial Products Division began construction of its new facilities in Kanata, just west of Ottawa. CPD was the first company to move to the new city.

The Commercial Products Division (CPD) of crown-owned Eldorado Mining and Refining was established to market radium, following WWII. It was absorbed into AECL on Aug 1 1952, and renamed the Radiochemical Company (of AECL) in Jul 1978. The CPD/RCC developed many new uses for radioisotopes, including Co-60 for cancer treatment and irradiators, and Mo-99 for medical diagnostics. The company was transferred from AECL on Sep 30, 1988 and renamed Nordion International Inc and Theratronics International Ltd as two new crown-owned corporations. MDS Inc. bought both crown corporations, and the company is now known as MDS Nordion.

Also, Nuclear Research eXperimental, the first high-power (40 MW thermal) Canadian research reactor, built at the Chalk River Laboratories of AECL. The reactor attained first criticality on Jul 22 1947, and remained in operation until Jan 29 1992 (decision to decommission made Apr 8, 1993). It suffered from an accident on Dec 12 1952, but was rebuilt. On May 29, 1997, NRX had the second accident, the historic radioactive leak from Chalk River's NRX fuel storage bay to the Ottawa River.

MDS Nordion, Kanata: Waste Diversion Proposal

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) has received notice from MDS Nordion, seeking an amendment to an existing licence to authorize the segregation of waste from its nuclear processing facility, and the disposal of non-hazardous radioactive waste together with conventional waste, at its processing facility in Kanata, Ontario. The existing facility is licensed with a Nuclear Substance Processing Facility Operating Licence under the Nuclear Safety and Control Act. An environmental assessment was completed for the Kanata Facility in May, 2000.

The proposed project would separate non-hazardous radioactive waste from the waste produced in the area where nuclear substances are processed, and dispose of these wastes with conventional waste. The criteria for waste to be included in the non-hazardous waste stream would be based on the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) standards for unconditional clearance levels. These are levels below which radioactive waste are exempted from regulatory control.

Before the Commission makes its decision on MDS Nordion’s proposal to segregate radioactive waste and to divert the non-hazardous waste, an environmental assessment must be completed in compliance with the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. The purpose of an environmental assessment is to identify the possible environmental effects of a proposed project, and to determine whether these effects can be mitigated before the project is allowed to proceed.

A nuclear safety inspector discovered only by chance last fall that Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. had continued to dump tens of thousands of gallons of hazardous radioactive waste into the ground for a decade after promising to stop, federal regulators were told yesterday.

Officials at the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission admitted "losing track" of the problem for the last seven years because of staff turnover and poor record keeping.

Commission president Linda Keen told a public hearing here yesterday that the incidents raised questions about the competence of both AECL and the safety commission's officials and that more explanations were needed to get to the bottom of what went wrong.

New story: Nuclear Safety in Kanata


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