Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Canadian government to overrule independent regulatory body

The need for radio-pharmaceuticals (specifically Mo-99, the world's most in-demand diagnostic medical isotope), produced by the NRU reactor in Chalk River (producing about 60% of global Mo-99 supply) look to be put ahead of the opinion of Canada's regulatory body.

The government is voting to suspend CNSC's authority on this matter for 120 days.

This is a fairly significant event to say the least, not really so much for nuclear 'power', but for the commercial application of nuclear technologies in general.

Further detail from WNN

Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission

Mo-99 (UIC)

Mo-99 Spec sheet - MDS Nordion


  1. This could be a good decision. I haven't really examined it yet.

    There are risks on both courses of action. That is the truth that needs to be examined here. The CNSC is concerned over the risk of reactor problems; the health profession is presumably concerned over the risk to patients. The government should be concerned to balance those two risks and find the best solution.

    If only this rational approach was more widely taken in regard of nuclear power.

  2. I take your point. Of particular interest is that Canadian lawmakers sited 'independent expertise' concluding the reactor could safely operate [isn't the regulator deemed to be an independent body of experts?].

    But this is certainly a very simplistic view from the outside and there are overarching risks - other than nuclear safety - to consider as you say. As the following days unfold, I expect more information to be made public.

    In the broader sense, I think effort should be invested to ensure this does not become precedence. Engineered safety features, multiply-redundant barriers / defence in depth and conservative decision making have enabled the nuclear industry to achieve a safety record second to none. Just one significant event, anywhere, could set the entire industry back decades - just when the world is beginning to realise they need it most.