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Research reactor news
February 27, 2008
This is from the front page of today's The Orange County Register, of California.
April 1, 2004
Nordion seeks easing of US HEU export restriction to keep reliable supply of medical isotopes
MDS Nordion is the world's biggest producer of medical isotopes used to diagnose and treat disease -- it sells more more than $300 million worth annually. The Canadian company has long been working to convert it's isotope production facilities from high-enriched uranium (HEU) to low-enriched uranium (LEU) targets. In 1992, the US enacted an antiproliferation law which requires the operator of an HEU-fueled reactor must be working toward conversion in order to be eligible to receive U.S. HEU.
Nordion has decided that their conversion plan is too expensive and will disrupt operations for too long a period. The company asked in vain for U.S. financial assistance, and is currently reassesing their approach rather than working on implementing an particular conversion plan. The Nuclear Control Institute has urged NRC to reject further export of HEU to Nordion, noting that "Recent information indicates that at least since September 2003, Nordion has ceased all cooperation, work and intention towards converting the Maple facilities from HEU targets to LEU targets." The controversy may be resolved by the U.S. Congress -- the "Burr amendment" to the energy bill which is supported by the Council on Radiopharmaceuticals & Radionuclides.
Refs: Daniel Horner (Platts-Washington), "Nordion headed for 'showdown' with U.S.?", Nuclear Fuel, v29 n6, March 15, 2004, p. 1; and Bert Hill (The Ottawa Citizen), "MDS Nordion caught in war of words: U.S. lobby seeks halt of uranium shipments to Kanata firm", Ottawa Citizen, April 1, 2004, p. D1]
September 30, 2003
Thailand uses Argonne blessing to approve research reactor construction
Thailand's National Commission on Atomic Energy for Peace has approved construction of a 10-megawatt research reactor in Onkharak, Nakhon Nayok. The reactor will be built by US-based General Atomic. The project was proposed in 1989 by the Chatchai Choonhavan administration, and won government approval in 1992. In 1998, the Office of Atomic Energy for Peace signed a contract with General Atomic to design, construct and operate the reactor. The contract expired three years ago, and GA's demand for Bt900-million compensation has not been paid. The construction cost is estimated at Bt3.55-billion.
The Commission's decision is controversial. An environmental impact report on the project has twice been rejected by the National Environment Board, most recently in July. A safety analysis report was also rejected by the Nuclear Safety Sub-committee (NSS) in Thailand and the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Thailand did, however, get a favorable opinion on the safety report from Argonne National Laboratory.
Suwit Khunkitti, deputy prime minister and chairman of the NSS, told reporters that the project was necessary since it would conduct research and development in nuclear technology for the country's benefit. The Commission's decision came a day after Suwit, Science Minister Pinij Charusombat, and the secretary-general of the Office of Atomic Energy for Peace, Kriengkorn Petchabutr, had lunch together. Kriengkorn reaches retirement age tomorrow. Pinij excluded himself from the decision of the Commission: 'Frankly, I do not have any authority to make decisions on the project. Everything is under the consideration of Deputy Prime Minister Suwit,' he said.
[Ref: Sirinart Sirisunthorn, "Nuclear reactor gets govt nod for construction", The Nation (Thailand), September 30, 2003]
July 1, 2003
June 30, 2003