NRU Status Report No. 47

AECL provides update on NRU activities

CHALK RIVER, ON, March 17 /CNW/ - The following information bulletin is in accordance with Atomic Energy of Canada Limited's (AECL) ongoing commitment to voluntary public disclosure of events related to the Chalk River Laboratories (CRL).

AECL reports that NRU reactor vessel repair activities continue. The overall repair process began on December 12, 2009. To date, 51 per cent of the repair activities and associated post-repair examinations have been completed.

The latest weld repair was successfully completed on Tuesday, March 16 and has proven to be the most complicated and difficult repair undertaken to date. AECL is evaluating the lessons learned from this latest repair and will be applying them to the remaining repair sites. The vessel repair team is transitioning to the final repair sequence with two repair sites remaining.

The project team continues to work with third-party experts to finalize detailed repair procedures. A workshop was held earlier this week with independent experts to review the strategy, preparations and schedule for the remaining weld repairs.

The remaining two repair sites present unique challenges that require first-of-a-kind technical solutions. To ensure that the repair process itself does not cause damage to the vessel an additional level of preparation is necessary to program the welding sequences and to qualify the welders.

The NRU has projected to return-to-service during the second half of May 2010. AECL is currently revising the return-to-service schedule based on the experience obtained from the latest repair, as well as recommendations stemming from the expert review conducted earlier this week. All guidance continues to be founded on the best evidence available.

Every effort is being made to return the NRU to service as soon as possible. The program is driven by safety, producing a quality repair, conservative decision-making and completion of all the necessary analyses.

The first medical isotopes will begin to be removed from the NRU for processing and distribution within 10 days of the reactor being returned to service.

A more comprehensive explanation of these repair challenges can be found on the website. Recently posted videos provide an illustrated overview of the weld repair challenges along with the research and analysis underway to ensure that the weld repairs are completed successfully with minimal impact or stress on the NRU vessel.

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission safety inspectors continue to provide independent regulatory oversight of AECL activities at the Chalk River site.

There is no threat to workers, the public, the environment or nuclear safety related to this event.

SOURCE Atomic Energy of Canada Limited

For further information: For further information: Dale Coffin, Director, Corporate Communications, AECL, 1-866-886-2325

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