Canada’s national nuclear laboratory fulfills international commitment under the U.S.-Origin Foreign Research Reactor Spent Nuclear Fuel Acceptance Program, safely removing a major nuclear liability from the Chalk River Laboratories
Chalk River, ON – January 25, 2021 – Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL), Canada’s premier nuclear science and technology organization, is pleased to announce that it has safely completed all shipments of Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU) Target Residue Material (TRM) from Canada to United States, bringing its TRM Repatriation Project to a safe and successful conclusion. The accomplishment represents the culmination of nearly a decade of hard work and planning carried out by hundreds of employees at CNL, and safely removes a major nuclear liability from the Chalk River Laboratories campus.
Canada and the United States announced that they would work together to repatriate spent, U.S.-origin HEU fuel that was stored at the Chalk River Laboratories at the 2010 Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, D.C., an agreement that would be expanded to include HEU TRM at the 2012 Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul, South Korea. Along with CNL’s HEU Fuel Repatriation Project, which was safely concluded in 2019, the completion of the TRM Repatriation Project officially fulfills Canada’s commitments under the U.S.-Origin Foreign Research Reactor Spent Nuclear Fuel Acceptance Program.
“The completion of this highly complex project is a major accomplishment for CNL and another important step forward in the pursuit of global nuclear security,” commented Joe McBrearty, CNL’s President and CEO. “It also demonstrates the ingenuity, resourcefulness and hard work of our Fuel Program and Projects team, who had to overcome extensive technical and logistical challenges to safely carry out this work. Congratulations to everyone involved in this incredible achievement, including our partners in the United States.”
The TRM Repatriation Project, which was completed as part of a multi-year agreement between Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL) and the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (DOE / NNSA), reduces Canada’s nuclear liability with the elimination of a significant quantity of HEU. HEU TRM is one of the by-products of Molybdenum-99, a medical isotope that was previously produced at the Chalk River Laboratories. At its peak, more than 20 million diagnostic procedures around the world were carried out every year using Molybdenum-99 isotopes produced at the Chalk River Laboratories.
“When this project was initiated almost ten years ago, there were a number of ‘first-of-a-kind’ challenges that CNL had to overcome, including the design and development of a dedicated facility to safely retrieve and package the material,” commented Mike Gull, CNL’s Vice-President of Environmental Remediation Management. “A decade later, I’m pleased to say that these activities were carried out successfully, within the original budget, and that the materials were transported safely to the United States without incident. It’s an enormous accomplishment, and it could not have been done without the dedication of our staff and the many organizations that we worked with in Canada and the United States.”
The U.S.-Origin Foreign Research Reactor Spent Nuclear Fuel Acceptance Program is part of broad international effort to consolidate HEU inventories in fewer locations around the world, and includes the transfer of existing weapons grade material from Canada to the United States, which has the capability to process it for peaceful purposes. More information on the program can be found on the U.S. Department of Energy’s website at www.energy.gov.
For more information on CNL, including its repatriation activities, please visit www.cnl.ca.
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Director, Corporate Communications