The very complex nature of the remaining repairs requires that extra precautions be taken. Each of these repairs presents unique and more difficult 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 Globe points out that this means no isotope production until June, if it returns at that point that is. Even that date is sounding very iffy now.
This additional preparation and repair work has added to the time required to return NRU to service. As a result, the current return-to-service is projected to be during the second half of May 2010. Material risk does exist that this schedule will be adjusted. As a consequence, AECL and its expert advisors are evaluating the work schedule and conducting further analysis around the evolving repair techniques. All guidance continues to be founded on the best evidence available.
What else is there to say about this ongoing deficiency at this point? The Harper government had an expert panel telling them in the spring of 2008 that urgent action was required. It wasn't until last week, almost two years later, that they actually made a choice on the isotope front, and that was to fund experimental cyclotron technology, not pursue a new reactor.
For more on this topic, see: Blog Post Index: Medical Isotope crisis & Chalk River shutdown.