Isotope panel gets it right!

I was very pleased to see that the isotope panel’s report came up with the right answers and that I was wrong in my misgivings about its members.

 

 Yes. We do need a new multi-purpose research reactor if Canada is going to stay in the nuclear game. That’s their main conclusion and I agree completely.  I would have liked to have seen an additional statement that the new reactor should be at Chalk River. That would have finally killed the dangerous and naïve idea of locating an isotope processing facility with associated fission product storage on a university campus as has been suggested for Saskatchewan.

 

It’s great the panel also rejected the “full speed ahead and damn the torpedoes” attitude of the Maple resurrectionists. Macho doesn’t cut it when it comes to nuclear technology especially when the justification is simply commercial expediency. Speaking of money there was a clear statement that the Canadian taxpayer had long been subsidizing nuclear medicine in many countries around the world and by implication that it should stop. These subsidies end up in the hands of a long chain of middlemen and greedy medical specialists. They don’t do patients any good.  

 

Hopefully we’ve seen the last of the loopy accelerator ideas and I certainly would like to think more about the cyclotron concept. I was a bit surprised they didn’t list all the submissions in an appendix of some kind but that doesn’t really matter all that much.

 

Now it all boils down to whether the government will ante up the cash for a new reactor and who could build one. There’s the Opal in Australia built by Argentina, the new research reactor just sold by Korea to Jordan and my favorite the Jules Horowitz reactor in France. Maybe we could clone one of them.

 

The key point is Canada must have access to a high flux multi-purpose research reactor, either our own or as a member of an international partnership.

2 Responses to “Isotope panel gets it right!”

  1. Very concerned citizen Says:

    What? ” I would have liked to have seen an additional statement that the new reactor should be at Chalk River. That would have finally killed the dangerous and naïve idea of locating an isotope processing facility with associated fission product storage on a university campus as has been suggested for Saskatchewan.”
    Do you still trust them? Linda was fired from her job for criticising AECL but was anybody fired because the major corrosion was not detected during inspection of NRU? Check last CANDU fuel coferences to see how much more research is done in fuel safety at the University than at CRL. Universities have access to young people who are essential for research development, while CRL has problem to keep not only technical staff but also trained young security staff who prefers to work elswhere. Please also educate yourself about modern techniques for waiste treatment, which are being developed at Universities.

    Very concerned citizen.

  2. Brad F Says:

    As a somewhat-informed layman, I was among the Maple-boosters until I read (well, scanned) the panel’s report. Until then I couldn’t understand why it would not be economic to finish the job and fix the reactivity coefficient. What I gleaned from the panel’s report (and again I did not read it in its entirety) was that even when they were operating and licensed, the revenues from medical isotope sales would not be sufficient to cover the operating costs of the Maples. If this is correct, then the business case for the project was piss-poor from the beginning.

    Reactors specialized for a specific purpose, dependent on a single product for economic viability, would have to have a rock solid business case. If the economics don’t work, and the reactors are too specialized to be useful for anything else, then there is no recourse but to cut your losses, so long as you have another alternative for supply.

    I disagree with you, however, that the Maples could not have been operated with a positive coefficient of reactivity, at least for a while.

    “The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not ‘Eureka!’ (I found it!) but ‘That’s funny …’ ” – Isaac Asimov

    As a scientific endeavour, discovering the reason for the positive coefficient would have been worthwhile. Several organizations examined the available data and agreed the coefficient should have been negative. I can see three possible reasons:

    1. GIGO – garbage in, garbage out. The data was wrong. Not much to be learned if this was the case, other than to better record the design information.

    2. The reactor wasn’t built to specifications. Similar to #1.

    3. There is a shortcoming in reactor modelling codes, that these particular reactors managed to demonstrate.

    #3 might be a long shot, but it seems it would have been worth the effort to nail down to cause.


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