Sunday, March 14, 2010

Conservative MP hoping for new Chalk River reactor

Cheryl wants a new reactor:
There have been ongoing efforts within the scientific community to persuade the federal government to begin groundwork to replace the NRU by financing the construction of a new research reactor on the Chalk River site, estimated to cost around $1 billion.

While there was no specific mention of that within the 2010 federal budget, Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke MP Cheryl Gallant reported AECL is getting $300 million to support its operations, and she hopes a portion of the research and development funding will go towards laying the groundwork for a new reactor.

There is also a commitment of $222 million over the next five years for nuclear and physics research on medical isotopes, with the goal of shifting the burden of their production away from the NRU reactor. It isn't known at this time if, or how, this will affect future operations in Chalk River. (emphasis added)
A Conservative MP talking up a new reactor in Chalk River, interesting. Unfortunately for her, she's likely out there on that limb all by her lonesome in her party. Suggesting that any of that $300 million to AECL is to seed a new reactor is a misrepresentation of what those funds are for:
Budget 2010 provides $300 million on a cash basis for AECL’s operations in 2010–11 to cover anticipated commercial losses and support the corporation’s operations, including the continued development of the Advanced CANDU Reactor, ensuring a secure supply of medical isotopes and maintaining safe and reliable operations at the Chalk River Laboratories.
Nope, no new reactor funding, quite the stretch for Gallant. If anything, this funding is meant to attract investors to make AECL more attractive for buyers. The Harper government is getting out of the nuclear business, not building new reactors. Gallant is politicking, concerned about her seat and anyone challenging her there should be sure to call her on it.

For more on this topic, see: Blog Post Index: Medical Isotope crisis & Chalk River shutdown.