Mr. Speaker, the health and safety of Canadians is a top priority for the Government of Canada. In this regard, on December 15, 2008, the Minister of Natural Resources outlined the government’s five-point plan to protect the health and safety of Canadians over the short and long term which includes:repairing the Chalk River reactor as quickly as possible in a safe and reliable manner;maximizing the use of existing medical isotopes supplies; working with international producers to increase production and co-ordinate reactor operations including downtimes; developing, assessing and reviewing alternatives to the current supply of TC-99m; and identifying and assessing possible alternatives to medical isotopes currently in use.
More detailed information may also be found at the following website: www.nrcan-rncan.gc.ca/media/newcom/2008/200876s-eng.php
The plan also includes information on determining the requirements and options available for re-licensing the National Research Universal, NRU, reactor past October 31, 2011. The government continues to work with Atomic Energy of Canada Limited, AECL, the medical community and Canada’s global partners to move forward with this plan.
AECL and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, CNSC, signed the Protocol for National Research Universal Licensing Activities on August 4, 2008. The CNSC has been working with AECL to determine the regulatory requirements for extending the licence of the NRU beyond 2011. The CNSC will assess information submitted by AECL to determine whether the NRU can continue operation beyond its current licence period, and make recommendations to the commission regarding the renewal of the NRU’s licence.
The government has provided funding to AECL in fiscal year 2009-10 to enable AECL to continue its efforts towards re-licensing the NRU during this period.
In addition, with respect to supply of medical isotopes for Canadians, on May 28, 2009, the government announced the establishment of an Expert Review Panel on Medical Isotope Production to report on the best options for securing the supply of molybdenum-99 and technetium-99m over the medium to long term. The four members of the panel bring to the table expertise in health science, nuclear technology and business management. In response to a call for expressions of interest, 22 submissions on ideas for isotope supply have been received and are being reviewed by the panel, which will report to the government by November 30, 2009.