Overwhelming Support for New Saskatchewan Reactor


". . .production would meet the Canadian domestic demand more than four times over, leaving much for export. . ."

Scientists and legislators in Saskatchewan have proposed to the Canadian federal government that a new research reactor be built in the province. The submission came with 20 letters of support from industry and academia.

At a cost of C$500-C$750 million, said the University of Saskatchewan, a 20 MWt research reactor could be built at their campus in Saskatoon. The cost of this could be split between the country as a whole and the province of Saskatchewan with income from commercial work once in operation. The submission to government was a response to a call for expressions of interest from Natural Resources Canada, though the future of the proposal also depends on the results of a public consultation on the future of uranium in the province.

By producing key medical isotopes, the new unit would bolster global supplies and reduce pressure on the elderly NRU unit at the Chalk River laboratories of Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd, which is currently out of operation pending difficult repairs. It should return by the end of the year, but NRU is due for permanent shutdown in 2016.

Dubbed the Canadian Neutron Source (CNS), the reactor would be a 20 MWt unit running on low-enriched uranium. It would be optimized to deliver a preliminary goal of 2000 six-day Curies of molybdenum-99 per week, as well as a neutron beam for materials research. That rate of production would meet the Canadian domestic demand more than four times over, leaving much for export and enabling it to fill the global role that NRU had taken.

The scheme's proponents believe that the CNS could be in operation by 2016 in time to take over isotope production and neutron science work from NRU.

Capital costs for the CNS would be C$500-750 million, with C$314-417 million of that going 'directly and indirectly' into Saskatchewan's GDP. Operational costs per year would be C$45-$70 million, also with the majority going into Saskatchewan's GDP. Between 125 and 194 person-years of employment would be added to the provinces lot annually.

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