But there's a big implication for Canada in moving in the direction of accelerators and away from the Chalk River nuclear research reactor model (or the Maples backups). That is, the loss of Canada's nuclear scientist crowd who will likely go elsewhere to pursue their research.
The Globe report proceeds to cite the Maples mothballing as an example of a nuclear research failure and therefore the suggestion entertained is that if there is to be a brain drain, "nuclear experts brought it on themselves." There's no mention of the numerous experts with the opposite view of the Maples reactors' viability, a real disservice to the report. It's an incredible bit of short-sighted thinking that's presented but it's probably educational to know that there are those who think it's no big deal if Canada's nuclear scientists take a hike. That's a real possibility as a result of the Harper government's deliberations now.
A decision by the panel in favour of accelerators, however, could signal an end to Canada's leadership in worldwide atomic research at a time when many industry observers are predicting a nuclear reactor renaissance.
"They could very well decide to go solely with an accelerator approach," Mr. Lockyear said. "That's a big decision for the country, though."
...Designed more for experiments than power generation, Chalk River remains one of the top-five research reactors in the world. Dr. Ryan, a researcher who works primarily at McGill University, has been travelling to Chalk River's National Research Universal reactor for 12 years to conduct experiments with magnetic materials. When the aging facility shuts down, Dr. Ryan and hundreds of other members of the scientific community who rely on Chalk River will have to conduct their research overseas.
"You wouldn't see any newcomers to the field," he said. "The expertise simply thins out. And once it's gone, it's very difficult to get back."
The better thinking here is that the possibility of Canada losing an entire field of leading edge researchers should not be permitted to happen. Amazing that we actually have to say such things these days.
For more on this topic, see: Blog Post Index: Medical Isotope crisis & Chalk River shutdown.