Back To Top

Over 75 years of industry leadership in radioisotope development and production.

1947 National Research Experimental Reactor (NRX) goes online. The first shipment of a medical isotope, Cerium-144, was shipped to the University of Saskatchewan three months after the NRX started.
1948 I-131 production started in NRX.
1949 Routine production of Iodine-131 for pharmaceutical use along with carbon 14, phosphorous 32 and sulfur 35 for R&D.
1949 CRL begins to supply Cobalt-60 to industry.
1949 Routine C-14 production commences.
1951 World’s first megavoltage cancer treatment was delivered with an external beam radiotherapy system, Eldorado A, developed by and using cobalt 60 from Chalk River.
1952 Montreal General Hospital requests permit to use Iodine-131 in localization of brain tumours.
1953 Routine Iridium-192 production in NRX.



National Research Universal Reactor (NRU) goes online at Chalk River Campus. Isotopes produced in this facility have led to more than 1 billion treatments and scans worldwide.
1957 Gammacell self-contained research irradiator introduced.
1961 Mobile production irradiator Cobalt-60 production irradiator used to illustrate the benefits for food irradiation.
1964 First Cobalt-60 industrial sterilization facility to sterilize medical supplies.
1965 The start-up of the world’s first commercial food irradiation facility in Mont St. Hillaire, Quebec.
1966 NRX starts producing Iodine-125.
1968 NRU starts producing Iodine-125.
1970 First Molybdenum-99 produced in NRU. NRU would produce enough Mo-99 for over 400 million scans.
1971 First Molybdenum-99 produced in NRX.
1971 Kanata cobalt processing facilities open.
1972 Routine shipments of CRL irradiated Mo-99 targets to Tunney’s Pasture.
1974 Chalk River Campus begins large scale production of Molybdenum 99. Extracted and purified as a fission production, prepared for human use and safely transported across the globe. This mission would go on to service the global healthcare market for over 50 years. Steadily delivering 30-40% of worldwide demand, at its peak as much as 80%.
1977 CRL Mo-99 processing facility commissioned.
1978 Team with TRIUMF to produce Iodine-123. the same facilities will go on to produce Palladium-103, Strontium-82, Thallium-201, Indium-111, Gadolinium-67 and Cobalt-57 in the subsequent two years.
1979 AECL assumes full Xe-133 production as a by-product of AECL’s Mo-99 operation.
1981 Trial Samarium-153 irradiation/production in NRU.
1982 First cyclotron produced isotopes shipped from TRIUMF.
1983 Kanata (future Nordion) isotope processing facilities open.
1985 First to develop Xenon-133 as a medical isotope.
1987 Canadian Irradiation Centre opens in Laval for demonstration and training.
1988 AECL’s Commercial Products Division is renamed Nordion Inc.
1990 Nordion Europe created with the acquisition of Belgium manufacturing facility.
1990 Therasphere production commences in NRU.
1991 Creating jobs and new companies, CRL completes its most successful commercial spinoff, Nordion, sale to MDS Inc.
1991 Yttrium-90 Theraspheres are approved by Health and Welfare Canada for general use.
1998 The division which produced Cobalt-60 external beam therapy systems and radiotherapy computerized treatment planning systems was sold to MDS Nordion.
1998 Biological Research Facility, a globally unique low dose radiation animal research facility is commissioned.
2003 Biological Research Facility advances use of radiation and isotopes by demonstrating low dose gamma radiation reduces tumor latency times in mice.
2014 Biological Research Facility develops use of low-dose radiation to enhance the performance of stem cells.
2018 Biological Research Facility contributes to pre-clinical and toxicology studies for use of next generation isotopes like Actinium-225 and Leutitium-177.
2019 CNL and TRIUMF organize the 11th Targeted-Alpha-Therapy Symposium in Ottawa, Canada.
2020 Developing next generation isotope production, CNL begins commercial sale of Actinium-225 while the Biological Research Facility contributes to pre-clinical and toxicology studies for use of next generation isotopes like Ac-225 and Lu-177.
2021 The Biological Research Facilities at CNL receives Good Laboratory Practice (GLP) certification (pending).

Over 70 years a total of sixty different isotopes were produced at Chalk River.