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D.F. Torgerson Award: Stand off Neutron Detectors

David Godin, Liqian Li, Bhaskar Sur, and Bryan van der Ende

For the development of stand-off nuclear reactor monitoring with neutron detectors for safeguards and non-proliferation applications.

In 2014, preliminary measurements were conducted with a large-area neutron detector at the National Research Universal (NRU) reactor, outside of core shielding, up to 70 metres from the reactor core, demonstrating how the detected neutron signal correlates with NRU reactor operations. This initial innovative study led to significant work during the 2019-2021 period that underscored the potential for the technique and garnered the attention of utilities, vendors, university researchers, and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). That work in subsequent years demonstrated how relative changes in average neutron signal were directly related to changes in the isotopic composition of the reactor core. This is an innovative connection not previously made, that has strong potential as a tool for safeguarding nuclear material in nuclear reactors because it can be used to non-intrusively monitor changes in the inventory of nuclear material in the core of a nuclear reactor as it operates.

This work has transpired into two collaborative research agreements with McMaster University and the Royal Military College. Each of these agreements involve exploring further the reactor monitoring technique at the institutions’ respective reactors, while training highly qualified personnel at the graduate level.

All of the work in developing the reactor monitoring technique was developed in projects as part of the AECL Federal Nuclear Science and Technology (FNST) Work Plan, supporting the Government of Canada’s national and international security by improving Canadian global leadership in science and technology development to address issues in nuclear non-proliferation and safeguards.

D.F. Torgerson Award: Hybrid Energy Optimization (HESO) Tool Team

Ayman Mahmoud, Megan Moore, Travis Pettigrew, and Pronnapa Sanongboon

For the development of the Hybrid Energy Optimization (HESO) tool.

Hybrid energy systems are an integrated set of supply and / or demand sources that can be configured to account for multiple applications, including not only electricity but also space heating, water heating, and industrial process heat. These energy systems increase in complexity as more variability and demand sources are introduced into the system in support of clean energy goals. As Canada and the rest of the world look for energy solutions that are reliable, cost-effective, and low in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, a new tool is needed to understand the challenges and opportunities.

The HESO model was developed using mathematical optimization to study the feasibility and benefits of nuclear-renewable hybrid energy systems. The model is capable of solving large-scale problems by determining the most cost-effective energy system for a given application, based on emissions requirements and technical constraints. The model provides a tool for stakeholders and the Canadian government to use to potentially inform policy decisions on what types of energy systems will serve to enable clean energy in the future of Canadians.

In 2021, the HESO model was used to conduct various feasibility studies through collaboration with various stakeholders and partners, including Garrison Petawawa, remote mining in Northern Canada, Canadian oil sands, remote communities, CRL’s microgrid, electrification of Ontario’s residential space, and water heating.

D.F. Torgerson Award: Actinium-225 Production Team

Chris Byrne, Denise Gendron, Randy Perron, and Evan Rand

For research and technical excellence in advancing CNL’s Actinium-225 (Ac-225) production program.

CNL’s program to produce Actinium-225 for Targeted Alpha Therapy (TAT) is one of the core pillars of Vision 2030 – to make valuable contributions that will advance the health of patients. Since 2019, this team has successfully developed and conducted the operation of CNL’s 10 mCi (milli-curies) Th-229 (Thorium-229) generator for the production of Ac-225. The success of CNL’s Ac-225 generator project has seeded new potential and laid the groundwork for an outstanding effort led by Evan Rand to provide the foundation for the CNL Isotope Business that is seeking to build a full-scale Ac-225 production facility by deploying the novel cyclotron-based Ac-225 reaction at a scale that has never been done elsewhere in the world.

The “generator” team of Chris Byrne, Denise Gendron and Randy Perron maintains, optimizes and operates the Th-229 generator, producing high purity and high quality Ac-225 for distribution of the medical isotope to commercial customers and research collaborators – whether for compassionate care treatments or drug development research (e.g. pharmaceutical development for TAT), and to support internal research and development under the Federal Nuclear Science & Technology and Laboratory Directed Science & Technology programs.

Distinguished Merit Award: Pressure Tube Calandria Tube Removal Tool Team

Marc Bouchard, Mike Burton, Dan Cadieux, Steve Cudmore, Telson Hadden, Tim Harris, Christoforo Ienzi, Mitch King, Andrew Kittmer, Larkin Mosscrop, Eric Sansoucy, Terry Schaubel, John Siery, Nick Simpson, and Jody Tessier

For the design of combined pressure tube and calandria tube removal tools.

CNL leverages its capabilities for commercial success and supports utilities through innovation and the development of technologies to realize efficiencies. This project met these commitments by enabling a nuclear utility to substantially reduce its outage schedule via deployment of new refurbishment tools.

These tools were designed by CNL’s Mechanical Equipment Development (MED) staff in 2019 and 2020. The tools remove both the pressure tube and calandria tube simultaneously from a reactor. The design was very challenging due to the complex tool functions and high applied loads that must be accomplished within tight spatial constraints that, until now, were thought to prohibit the combined removal of the tubes. The tools were manufactured and deployed by Candu Energy with CNL’s active participation as designers and field subject matter experts.

This innovation demonstrates CNL’s continued and valuable contributions to the area of reactor refurbishments. The tool was successfully deployed at OPG’s Darlington Unit 3 but is planned to be based at Unit 1 and then Unit 4. The Bruce Power Major Component Replacement project is also considering this technology for its reactor refurbishments, which would require some redesign for their specific configuration.

Distinguished Merit Award: CANDU Pressure Tube Sample Analysis Team

Yvonne Andrews, Dave Arthur, Farina Baig, Kyle Beckett, Jim Blackmore, Jasen Bohemier, Brad Bourgoin, Dennie Bourque, Alan Britton, Dylan Broad, Heather Chaput, Katherine Cleary, Ken Cliché, Olivia Dobrowloski, Chris Dougthwright, Jordan Fraser, Jennifer Frotten, Shane Gillis, Mike Godin, Audrey Hagberg, Jason Hamel, Ziaul Haque, James Harrington, Rod Herwig, Mark Hoffman, Madisson Howells, Gary Jessup, Jamie Lade, Frank Langlois, Jessica Leach, Brandon Lee, Doug Lee, Paul Leeson, Clint Lefebvre, Craig LeMoine, Andre Lepage, Joanne Lesniewski, Laura Macartney, Ryan MacLeod, Krista Mohns, Ian Muir, Bill Mulligan, Matthew Paluch, Jon Paterson, Erin Phillion, Mark Pilon, Corey Potts, Geoff Quast, Angie Rafuse, Raghu Rao, Dustin Raymond, Nik Robidas, Chantal Robinson, Kevin Rochon, Brenda Rose, Peter Rousselle, Youqing Shi, Michael Sim, Curtis Smith, Miranda Spencer, Steven Thiel, Scott Tripp, Tijmen Van Lindenberg, Joe Walsh, Morgan Weeks, Justin Wegner, Jonathan Williams, Nathan Zahn, and Mike Zinck

For work on the CANDU® Pressure Tube Sample Analysis.

CANDU pressure tubes ingress hydrogen and deuterium during service through corrosion from the heavy water coolant and at the ends through the rolled joints. Hydrogen content in pressure tubes accumulates over time and impacts the material properties, especially fracture toughness. The NPP operators are required to determine hydrogen equivalent concentration in pressure tubes by performing analyses of scrape samples taken during outage campaigns to meet fitness-for-service requirements. Scrape samples from the inside surface of pressure tubes are routinely collected and sent to labs for analysis.

In order to restart Unit 3 at Bruce Power, Bruce Power was required to perform extensive sampling from a number of additional pressure tubes and at various locations within the tubes. CNL’s Scrape Analysis team comprised of materials scientists, hot cell technicians and chemists, strongly supported by key staff from Radiation Protection, Operations, Radioactive Material Shipping and Security, worked around the clock for several months, receiving, transporting and analyzing samples in order to provide timely results on an almost daily basis to Bruce Power. These results were used to inform the sampling plans at the station, provided an extensive dataset, and supported Bruce Power to make a comprehensive case to restart Unit 3. The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission allowed the restart of Unit 3 in the fall of 2021.

The level of dedication and commitment to customer satisfaction displayed by the team members was well beyond the expectations of their normal work duties.

Distinguished Merit Award: RMC SLOWPOKE Team

Imtiaz Ahmed, Julian Atfield, Shane Audette, Jeff Battersby, Andrew Bergeron, Kendall Boniface, Marc Bouchard, Dan Cluff, James Crigger, Jeff DeJong, Lyle Gendron, Mike Godin, Paul Joynes, Mahmoud Karam, Nick Kotsios, Jeremy Kuehl, Norm Lair, Nathan Lee, Shawn Leeder, Ryan MacLeod, Dan McDonald, Gaige Moore, Dale Morris, Patrick Morrison, Jozef Mouris, Sinh Nguyen, Matthew Paluch, Dave Poff, Barbara Pruszkowski, Mark Seguin, Robyn Sloan, Justin Spencer, Madalena Spencer, Tracy Taylor, Cathy Thiriet, Luke Yaraskavitch, and Shuwei Yue 

For the execution of refuelling the SLOWPOKE Reactor at Royal Military College (RMC).

RMC’s SLOWPOKE reactor has supported the operational, educational and research needs of the Government of Canada, the Canadian Armed Forces, and the Department of National Defence since 1985. Among DND’s interests facilitated by the SLOWPOKE are projects that support the protection of the Canadian public, including nuclear forensics and emergency response. The reactor also supports a hands-on science and engineering curriculum for students at RMC.

On Friday, September 10, 2021, CNL in coordination with RMC completed re-commissioning of the RMC SLOWPOKE reactor, after a 22-day shutdown. This moment was the culmination of a three-year, ~$8.5 million commercial project which saw CNL remove the old reactor core; commission the reactor with a newly fabricated core manufactured by our Fuel Development team at CRL; and transfer the spent core to CRL for long-term storage in our licenced nuclear waste management facility.

Before the new fuel was placed into the reactor, the irradiated fuel was extracted. Doing so without disassembling major reactor structures required the design and manufacturing of a completely unique toolset, which was used to move the fuel while shielding staff, and avoiding damage to the reactor. For this, the team turned to the Mechanical Equipment Development (MED) department who were tasked with designing the core removal tooling, and facilitating the construction of most of the components at outside machine shops. Of course, this work was supported by various staff, including members of the SLOWPOKE Maintenance Team (comprised of individuals from MED, Nuclear Safety Experiments Branch, Advanced Fuels, and Reactor Physics), as well as Health Physics.

The refuelling project extended the life of the 37-year-old reactor by another 30 years, allowing it to continue serving students, researchers and government officials alike into the next generation.

Distinguished Merit Award: Digital Workplace Remote Work Team

Noelle Caloren, Dan Chapman, Holli Croucher, Shallen Dam, Sarah Epps, Jennifer Gardner, Ryan Gonsalves, Kellie Innes, Gabrielle Kaufmann, Uma Lad, Stephanie Moncion, Kate Quinn, Renee Racine, Nick Resetar, Imran Sajid, Melanie Scheer, Mark Senack, Tom Vaughan, Tammy Warren, and Brad Wasmund 

For the execution of the Digital Workplace Remote Work Program.

The launch of the Remote Work Program marks a key milestone in CNL’s journey towards Vision 2030. Incorporating remote work on a large scale at CNL is a major transformational initiative, as in the past, the company operated almost exclusively as a traditional workplace requiring employees to be on site to perform their duties.

This initiative allows employees to strike a greater work life balance which enhances morale and productivity. It also allows CNL to realize reduced operational costs by reducing real estate overheads due to a reduction in the need for physical office space.

This change has also been critical in ensuring the health and safety of employees during the pandemic, creating a program that is sustainable ensures that CNL is able to manage through other external events could impact CNL’s ability to conduct business if employees are unable to come to an office, strengthening CNL’s business continuity.

The Remote Work Program also provided guidance to employees and managers who would remain on-site workers but who would like to incorporate additional flexibility and remote work into their routine where appropriate. This cultural shift was not only necessary based on employee feedback in July 2019, but was also necessary for CNL to provide an employee value proposition that rivals those of our competitors, clearly demonstrating that CNL is a modern, twenty-first century laboratory and is a destination for top talent.

Distinguished Merit Award: COVID 19 Team

Karen Barry, Sarah Gervais, Karry Giroux, Mary-Anne Harris, Shelley Harris, Monica Hewitt, Tracy Kempthorne, Uma Lad, Cindy Lewis, Tara Matte, Rosetta McGirl, Jessica McQuestion, Lucien Nel, Cheryl Paquette, Katrina Phillips, Eliisa Plouffe, Renee Racine, and Cheryl Smith 

For ongoing work in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since early 2020, the CNL Health Centre staff have worked as individuals, as a team and in collaboration with CNL and community partners to establish a safe and supportive work environment for all CNL employees, aligning with each of these values during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Health Centre assists employees in attaining the highest level of physical and emotional health and well-being in their careers at CNL, while optimizing their job performance and decreasing workplace stressors. The evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic has challenged the Health Centre team to become adaptive and creative in order to continue to provide best-in-class health and wellness provisions, and to meet and exceed program goals and objectives. This resulted in developing COVID-19 screening protocols for essential staff, procure pandemic supplies, and to educate staff on personal protective equipment usage. With each new stage of the pandemic, public health guidelines would shift and the Health Centre team would adapt and ensure awareness and oversight to pandemic and crisis management teams.

The Health Centre team continues to collaborate to support the COVID-19 pandemic response in conjunction with providing injury / illness and program delivery in order to ensure that the employees of CNL can work in a safe and supportive environment.

Distinguished Merit Award: Near Surface Disposal Facility Team

Jerome Besner, Richard Birchall, Jeff Chapin, Craig Cochrane, Sandra Faught, Greg Finley, Christine Gallagher, Rob Kingsbury, Martin Klukas, Mike Labriola, Nicole LeBlanc, Mitch MacKay, Annie Morin, Reisa San Pedro, and Meggan Vickerd 

For work on the Near Surface Disposal Facility (NSDF) Environmental Impact Statement and Licensing Document Submission.

Since 2016, CNL has prepared over 100 technical documents to support CNL’s application to add the NSDF to the existing CRL site licences in alignment with the Safety and Control Areas. In 2019 and 2020, the NSDF Project team produced almost 50 licensing documents for submission to the CNSC. These were all highly technical documents with a vast range of disciplines including but not limited to engineering, geotechnical, safety and environmental analysis, and also communication.

Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) staff have carefully considered all of the NSDF design and safety documents to ensure they are in alignment with the requirements of the Nuclear Safety and Control Act and its regulations, CNSC regulatory documents, the requirements of the CRL site licence and international guidance. The CNSC staff review resulted in numerous comments for CNL disposition, additional technical analysis and revisions of documents to address these comments to CNSC staff satisfaction. In July 2021, CNSC staff deemed that all documents submitted to support the licence application were accepted and, as such, ready for independent review by the CNSC Commission.

March 2017, the team submitted to CNSC staff the draft NSDF Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the NSDF Project at the CRL site. A federal and provincial review team completed a technical evaluation. In 2019, a revised EIS was submitted to the CNSC along with dispositions to the 257 federal and provincial review team information requests on the 2017 draft EIS. In April 2020, the federal and provincial review team completed their technical review of the 2019 revised draft EIS, its updated supporting documents, and responses to all federal and provincial comments and information requests. In December 2020, the NSDF Project Team submitted the 2020 NSDF EIS for acceptance by the federal provincial review team. In January 2021, the team was informed by the CNSC that outstanding information was required to be included in the EIS. The team revised the EIS and in July 2021, the CNSC determined that the information provided in CNL’s submission was complete and the final NSDF EIS was deemed acceptable.

The acceptance of the NSDF EIS and licensing documents by the CNSC and subsequent notification of intent to proceed to a hearing, results in reputational benefits on both a national and international scale. Specifically, the NSDF may become the first Class 1 disposal facility for nuclear waste in Canada, thus supporting the Canadian nuclear industry by demonstrating implementable solutions for its nuclear waste.

Distinguished Merit Award: Electrical Site Wide Shutdown Team

Andrew Blanchard, Dave Buske, Mike Cameron, Adam Corrigan, Sean Enright, Paulo Garcia, Tyler Gauthier, Trevor Keenleyside, Lyall Lafontaise, Mathew McConnell, Brent McLaughlin, Tyler Parr, Belinda Samson, and Dean Tessier

For demonstrating excellence in the conduct of the annual Electrical Site-Wide Shutdown.

For nine years, CNL has conducted an annual Class IV Electrical Site-Wide Shutdown (ESWSD) for maintenance and upgrades at its Chalk River Laboratories site.

The key elements of the ESWSD are the following:

  • The range of activities during this outage are immense – from maintenance of 115 kV transformers and breakers to connection inspections of 115V building distribution panels, and everything in between these voltages and of various electrical components.
  • Impact on the CRL site is immense as a result of the shutdown of Class IV power requiring extensive planning and coordination to avoid unintended consequences.
  • Coordination with a large set of contractors called in to work on proprietary and / or unique equipment as well as supplement our electrical staff.
  • Maintaining the safety of the electrical workers which is complicated by the mix of CNL personnel and the large number of contractor personnel and the complexity of the electrical system, especially with portions still powered by Class III sources.
  • Assurance of Class III power to nuclear facilities and other facilities that cannot be fully shutdown.
  • Conduct of the ESWSD over a weekend to minimize impact on the CRL site’s operation.
  • The ESWSD requires operational control to deal with the coordination needed for the work and for the changes in direction that occur as inspections uncover additional work or tasks that take longer than planned.

The de-energization of the Chalk River Laboratories site allows for great efficiency in accomplishing electrical work. Performing localized isolations while maintaining general operational conditions greatly complicates work. The ESWSD concept allows for completing many jobs in “bundled” form that would have been much more expensive if done individually.

At the completion of each ESWSD, the health of the electrical distribution system is incrementally improved. This improvement comes from needed modifications or repairs to preventive maintenance to reduce the potential for equipment failures. The impact of the ESWSD on the electrical distribution system is readily apparent across all facets of the system.