(Gazette, Winnipeg Free Press, Feb. 10: Globe and Mail, Feb. 8)
OTTAWA – The troubled Chalk River nuclear reactor may not be up and running until April, further delaying the return to a full supply of isotopes for vital medical tests. As the looming shutdown of a European reactor threatens to create shortages of the material used to diagnose life-threatening illnesses, the Opposition is pushing Ottawa to develop plans to ensure the continued supply of medical isotopes.
Liberal MPs sent a letter yesterday to Natural Resources Minister Christian Paradis and Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq, expressing “growing concern” that there is no contingency plan to deal with the shutdown of the Petten reactor in the Netherlands, which will occur while the NRU reactor at Chalk River, Ont., remains out of service. The NRU has been off-line for repairs since last May and will not run again until April. The Dutch reactor will be shut down for several months starting Feb. 19. When both units are functioning, they produce more than 60 per cent of the world’s medical isotopes.