Investigations, accusations over isotope crisis

15 February 2008

A review of the events surrounding Canada's isotope crisis is being launched by the two main protagonists: the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) and Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd (AECL).


The review was announced by a simultaneous joint statement by the two parties. They will separately contract consultants Talisman International to review "all action taken by each organisation" and the lessons learned from the event.


Late last year, AECL was forced to shut down its National Research Universal (NRU) reactor due to a failure to make safety upgrades to the satisfaction of the CNSC. Supplies of medical isotopes began to run very low, and the CNSC was overruled by government as a matter of emergency. Early this year, Linda Keen, president of the CNSC was removed from that post by government ministers who said they had lost confidence in her.


Now, Talisman are to examine "the performance of the CNSC and AECL staff over the period leading up to and pursuant to the... decision to renew the NRU reactor licence in 2006, as well as the subsequent period leading up to the extended outage of the NRU."


No timeline for delivery of the report was made public in the organizations' statement.


Meanwhile, Linda Keen has begun court proceedings to clear her name over the affair, the Canadian Press has reported. Keen has asked for a judicial review of the government's decision to axe her, hoping that move would be ruled unlawful and an earlier order placing her in the presidential post could be restored.