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Government introduces new legislation to restart nuclear reactor

December 12, 2007

OTTAWA -- The Honourable Gary Lunn, Minister of Natural Resources, and the Honourable Tony Clement, Minister of Health, today announced that the Government of Canada has introduced legislation mandating Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL) to restart its National Research Universal (NRU) reactor safely.

The reactor has been shutdown since November 18 leading to delays and cancellation of medical procedures in Canada and abroad. AECL made the decision to extend a regularly-scheduled maintenance shutdown in order to perform additional modifications required to meet Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) licence requirements.

Technical experts have confirmed that the reactor can operate safely on an interim basis until all modifications are completed. The recent connection of a back-up pump power system is a substantial upgrade for the NRU reactor, which has operated safely for decades.

"Our Government's highest priority is the health and safety of Canadians. We have taken decisive action to bring forward a solution that addresses both -- we have a reactor with enhanced safety modifications which can now be put back into service," said Minister Lunn.

"We understand and are concerned about the stress and worry that this situation is causing to patients and their loved ones -- that is why we took immediate action," added Minister Clement.
-end-
Media may contact:

Louise Girouard
Director of Communications
Office of the Minister
Natural Resources Canada
Ottawa
613-996-2007

Rita Smith
Director of Communications
Office of the Minister of Health
Ottawa
613-957-0200

Natural Resources Canada

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