Wednesday, 27 March 2013
Tuesday, 26 March 2013
A great resource: from World Nuclear Association: Nuclear Basics, Answering some of the key questions about nuclear energy http://www.world-nuclear.org/
Posted by Zahra Yamani at 06:03
Friday, 22 March 2013
Federal budget 2013 is announced: http://www.budget.gc.ca/2013/
I guess the winding down support of the government for AECL by the end
of 2015 is consistent with their previous decisions/actions: "Supporting
Atomic Energy of Canada Limited
Economic Action Plan 2013 proposes to provide $141 million over two years to ensure a secure supply of medical isotopes and maintain safe and reliable operations at Atomic Energy of Canada Limited’s Chalk River Laboratories. Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL) is a federal Crown corporation that specializes in a range of nuclear products and services. To continue to ensure a secure supply of medical isotopes and maintain safe and reliable operations at the Chalk River Laboratories, Economic Action Plan 2013 proposes to provide $141 million over two years for AECL’s laboratory operations."
The link to the full pdf document of the budget is found here: http://www.budget.gc.ca/2013/doc/plan/toc-tdm-eng.html
"Official Opposition Critic for Science & Technology Kennedy Stewart (Burnaby--Douglas) speaking on March 20, 2013 on his opposition day motion calling on the House of Commons to protect scientific freedom, evidence-based policy and basic research funding, and to restore funding to the Experimental Lakes Area": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qeVrHLfphsE
Posted by Zahra Yamani at 04:58
Wednesday, 20 March 2013
The Graphite Reactor: Isotopes and a new element: http://www.oakridger.com/
article/20130318/NEWS/ 130319906/1007/ OPINION?template=printart
does the lack of proper recognition sound familiar also about what
NRU/NRX enabled Canada to do??? "“If at some time a heavenly angel
should ask what the Laboratory in the hills of East Tennessee did to
enlarge man’s life and make it better, I daresay the production of
radioisotopes for scientific research and medical treatment will surely
rate as a candidate for first place.” — Alvin Weinberg, director, Oak
Ridge National Laboratory, 1955-1973.
The late Art Rupp would agree.
He was especially proud of the Lab’s isotope development program, which
he helped create and then led.
However, in an interview in 2003
with Steve Stow for the ORNL Oral History Project, he said the isotope
program started at the Lab’s Graphite Reactor, which was built in 1943,
had not received the recognition it deserves, either locally or
In its heyday, the program separated, purified,
promoted, packaged and scheduled the delivery of radioisotopes. The
isotopes shipped from Oak Ridge to hospitals were used to diagnose and
treat cancer and other diseases, prolonging lives. Other isotopes were
useful for industry, agriculture and research.
Also, separation work
in the program provided chemical proof for the existence of Element 61
in the periodic table. Henry Moseley, the brilliant English physicist
who was killed at the age of 27 in World War I, confirmed in 1914 the
1902 prediction that an element with this atomic number exists.
Radioactive forms of various elements, called radioisotopes, were
produced in and isolated from the spent uranium fuel of the Graphite
Reactor. This Oak Ridge facility was the world’s first continuously
operated nuclear reactor. It enabled researchers to demonstrate that
gram quantities of plutonium-239 could be produced in a reactor and
separated from the spent uranium fuel.
Researchers created other
radioisotopes, such as radioactive phosphorus, by immersing a
nonradioactive target material, such as melted sulfur in aluminum cans,
in the sea of neutrons inside the reactor.
Under John Gillette’s
stewardship, the program made up to 12,000 shipments of isotopes a year —
or 104,000 shipments between 1946 and 1957.
The first radioisotope
produced and shipped from a reactor — the Graphite Reactor — was
carbon-14. It was sent in 1946 to a hospital in St. Louis for cancer
Rupp, a chemical engineer trained at Purdue University
where he was once president of the poetry club, noted New York City’s
Rockefeller Center has a statue of Prometheus, but Oak Ridge does not.
Why is this important?
The element discovered in Oak Ridge was named
after Prometheus, the titan in Greek mythology who stole fire from
Mount Olympus and brought it down to mankind.
In 1945, Jacob
Marinsky, Lawrence Glendenin and Charles Coryell isolated the new
element in a hot cell after separating rare earths from radioactive
fission products. They were members of George Boyd’s group, which
pioneered the use of ion-exchange chromatography for separating
Employing a spectroscopic method, they identified
Element 61, the only radioactive rare-earth metal. Coryell’s wife, Grace
Marie, proposed the name promethium for the new element — a suggestion
accepted by the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry.
“Promethium is an element that does not exist naturally on Earth,” Rupp
told Stow. Like technetium, it occurs only as a byproduct of fission.
Promethium has been identified in the spectrum of a star in the
Andromeda galaxy. Promethium made on Earth is used for atomic batteries
in missiles and spacecraft.
“Its discovery in Oak Ridge is something that has just been forgotten,” Rupp said."
Posted by Zahra Yamani at 05:38
Tuesday, 19 March 2013
someone is doing something about this but will it make any difference
at the end? MP Kennedy Stewart tables motion to defend science in
post/ mp-kennedy-stewart-tables-motio n-to-defend-science-in-canada
"That, in the opinion of the House, a) public science, basic research
and the free and open exchange of scientific information are essential
to evidence-based policy-making; b)
federal government scientists must be enabled to discuss openly their
findings with their colleagues and the public; c) the federal government
should maintain support for its basic scientific capacity across
Canada, including immediately extending funding, until a new operator is
found, to the world-renowned Experimental Lakes Area Research Facility
to pursue its unique research program."
Posted by Zahra Yamani at 06:28
AECL provides update on NRU Planned Outage Activities for the upcoming one month shutdown: http://www.aecl.ca/NewsRoom/
"AECL reports that the National Research Universal (NRU) reactor will
enter a planned outage beginning on April 14, 2013 and ending May 14,
2013. The purpose of the outage is to conduct scheduled inspection and
maintenance. This marks the third annual outage for the NRU.
Inspection results to date continue to confirm that the NRU vessel
remains fit for service.
In addition to the annual vessel
inspection, work is planned during the outage to enhance the reliability
and safety of NRU. A dedicated work management outage team has been
established to coordinate the activities of suppliers, NRU specialists
and supporting departments ensuring the safe and successful execution of
Facility users and the isotope community have been
informed well in advance of this outage and have taken steps to adjust
The ongoing operations of the NRU allow AECL to
continue to produce medical isotopes and provide vital research support
to scientists and universities from across Canada and around the world."
Seems that Petten is down at same time: http://www.nrg.eu/nuclear-services/news/item/?tx_ttnews%5Btt_news%5D=123&cHash=e6f54ed2df23a3a62130bac46a61d595
Posted by Zahra Yamani at 06:27
In his latest radio programme, the BBC’s resident polymath Melvyn Bragg looks at this race to the bottom, which really heated up in the late 19th century when physicists and chemists were feverishly liquidizing a wide range of gases include those cryogenic favourites nitrogen – and a little later in 1908 – helium.
Bragg is joined by regular guest and historian of science Simon Schaffer of Cambridge University together with the physicists Nicola Wilkin of the University of Birmingham and Stephen Blundell of the University of Oxford.
You can listen to the quartet discuss how the discovery of quantum mechanics affected how physicists think of absolute zero – and how the quest for absolute zero will ultimately be thwarted by something akin to Zeno’s paradox. On a more practical note, the panel discusses how extremely cold atoms could be used as geological and other sensors.
And for all you budding science administrators out there, Simon Schaffer reveals who he thinks is the greatest laboratory manager physics has ever known…any guesses who that might be?"
Posted by Zahra Yamani at 06:06
Fukushima -- Fear Is Still the Killer: http://www.forbes.com/sites/
jamesconca/2013/03/18/ fukushima-fear-is-still-the-kil ler/
"Sadness and Anger. That’s what came to mind on the two-year
anniversary of the Fukushima disaster last week. But it was for two
different reasons, for two different groups. I realize everyone who
attended the anti-nuke rallies felt righteous and good about their anger
at nuclear power and their sadness at the disaster (Bay Area
But their anger is misplaced and their zealous cries
against nuclear power eclipsed the real heartbreak – the tsunami itself
and the mismanagement of the response.
I am in the other group.
Those of us who are sad at the destruction wrought by the tsunami and
angry at the horrible over-reaction to Fukushima that has hurt more
people than the radiation ever will. The tsunami killed over 20,000
people and destroyed almost a million lives. The threat of radiation is a
phantom that distracts the world and keeps the people of Japan
terrorized with no foreseeable end.
Yet again, technical and
scientific experts announced that the radiation effects from Fukushima
will have little to no health impacts on the people of Japan, even on
those most affected by the disaster at Daiichi.
Yet again, it was
announced that the fear and continued misinformation about radiation is
causing more harm than could possibly be caused by radiation.
again, much of the public and most of the ideologues choose to ignore
the experts and stoke the fear and suffering for whatever reasons they
have, good or bad.
There is no question that an area around
Fukushima is contaminated and needs to be cleaned-up before anyone can
re-enter. But that area is confined to the >50 mSv/year zone (>6
microSv/hr). The rest of the area is safe enough to re-occupy and
contains most of the population in the affected areas (Japan Ministry).
The majority of the refugees could return safely to their homes and have
a better life than where they are now.
The WHO released an interim
evaluation in their ongoing assessment of Fukushima. For the general
population in Fukushima prefecture, across Japan and beyond “the
predicted risks are low and no observable increases in cancer rates
above baseline rates are anticipated,” said WHO. Clear cases of health
damage from radiation only occur following exposures of 1000 mSv – far
more than the 10-50 mSv WHO said was received by the worst-hit people in
Namie and Iitate.
The WHO also said the effects of the accident
“are not expected to cause an increase in the incidence of miscarriages,
stillbirths and other physical and mental conditions that can affect
babies born after the accident.”"
Posted by Zahra Yamani at 05:58
Thursday, 7 March 2013
Canadian Neutron Beam Centre is transferred from NRC to AECL: Transfer of the operations and governance of the CNBC to AECL: http://www.cins.ca/news.html
..."Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL) will fully fund, govern and
operate the Canadian Neutron Beam Centre (CNBC) for a two-year period
effective April 1, 2013 according to an agreement recently signed with
the National Research Council (NRC). The NRC staff of the CNBC will
continue to be NRC employees while working in alignment with AECL’s
There will be no immediate change in day-to-day
operations of the CNBC and no impact on access to the facilities by
users and clients.
CINS will work AECL with respect to establishing a
sustainable future for materials research with neutron scattering in
Canada. The coming two years will be an opportunity to demonstrate the
value of including a domestic neutron-scattering capability in support
of an industry-driven Canadian nuclear innovation agenda, a
consideration in the ongoing restructuring of AECL:
is still assessing the value of investing federal tax dollars in
longer-term nuclear innovation. Over the coming months, the Government
will work to understand the potential business case for a
forward-looking, industry-driven nuclear innovation agenda." See http://www.nrcan.gc.ca/
As usual, applications for beam time at the CNBC are welcome at any time.
Members of the neutron scatttering community should direct questions or
concerns regarding the situation to the Canadian Neutron Beam Centre. "
Posted by Zahra Yamani at 18:15
Tuesday, 5 March 2013
A great read: Space Invaders -- Asteroids, Mars And Radiation: http://www.forbes.com/sites/
jamesconca/2013/03/03/ space-invaders-asteroids-mars-a nd-radiation/print/
Posted by Zahra Yamani at 19:41
The summer school morning lectures program is now announced: http://www.cins.ca/ss2013/
#lectures ...please make sure to register to ensure a spot...
Posted by Zahra Yamani at 19:24
Really cool! US teenager Taylor Wilson designs compact nuclear reactor: http://www.digitaljournal.com/
"Eighteen-year-old Taylor Wilson has designed a compact nuclear reactor
that could convert waste from old atomic weapons into power for homes
and factories and maybe even one day space colonies."
Posted by Zahra Yamani at 19:16
Hydraulic fracking releases ancient radioactive brine: http://
knowledgecircle.cifar.ca/ exchange/ hydraulic-fracking-releases-anc ient-radioactive-brine/
"Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is a widespread technique used by
the oil and gas industry to obtain natural gas from shale rock, a type
of sedimentary rock that contains hydrocarbons that cannot be recovered
using conventional techniques. The process involves drilling thousands
of feet into the Earth’s subsurface and injecting a special mixture of
water, sand and chemicals to crack the rock and release the gas.
Since approximately one quarter of the fluid returns to the surface
through the process, the chemical composition of the returning fluid is
of interest to researchers. Studies have shown previously that the
wastewater liquid that flows back after fracking contains elements that
were not part of the initial solution."
Posted by Zahra Yamani at 19:15
Monday, 4 March 2013
And here are the news of more funds for non-reactor medical isotope production from Triumf (http://www.triumf.ca/
headlines/ funding-announcements/ triumf-team-receives-isotopes-i nvestment), UoWinnipeg (http:// news-centre.uwinnipeg.ca/ all-posts/ uwinnipeg-part-of-manitoba-rese arch-team-developing-medical-i sotopes/), and UAlberta (http://www.news.ualberta.ca/ newsarticles/2013/february/ fundingboostsualbertaresearchin racefornewisotopes)
Posted by Zahra Yamani at 18:38
Good read: Isotopes in high demand for medical research: http://www.pressenza.com/2013/
03/ isotopes-in-high-demand-for-med ical-research/
..."So the question is, how to get the molybdenum-99 in the first
place? Well, one way is to use the fact that it is a fission product of
uranium-235. That means that inside every uranium-fuelled nuclear
reactor, Mo-99 is being produced all the time – but it is mixed in with
dozens of other fiercely radioactive fission products (such as
cesium-137, iodine-131, strontium-90), activation products (such as
cobalt-60, iron-55, niobium-93m) and transuranic actinides (such as
americium and curium). To get the Mo-99 you would have to
dissolve the fiercely radioactive irradiated fuel in boiling nitric
acid and separate out the tiny amount of Mo-99 by chemical means,
leaving a huge volume of highly radioactive liquid waste.
So to make
the job easier, research reactors are used – no electricity production –
and instead of “reprocessing” the irradiated fuel, special “targets”
are introduced into the core of the reactor made of highly-enriched
uranium (93.3 percent Uranium-235) and withdrawn at a predetermined
time so that the “target” can be dissolved in nitric acid etc. This has
several advantages: (1) you can limit the time the target is in the
reactor, cutting down on the superfluous inventory of other fission
products etc; (2) you can vastly reduce the mass of material that needs
to be dissolved
because the U-235 is so concentrated; (3) you can
control the schedule more easily and achieve a kind of “assembly-line”
procedure without shutting the reactor down.
Even if you use this
nasty method for producing Mo-99 inside a nuclear reactor, and then
reprocessing, you can use LEU (Low Enriched Uranium) instead of High
Enriched Uranium (HEU) – it just means it takes longer and is more
expensive mainly because there is a much larger mass of material to
“reprocess” in order to get out the Mo-99. Argentina has been doing it
way for quite some time.
The alternative to using a nuclear
reactor is to use a “particle accelerator” to produce Mo-99. There are
various ways to do this, using a cyclotron (a circular accelerator) or a
linear accelerator (arranged in a straight line). In an accelerator,
isotopes of various kinds can be produced by bombarding a “target” of
some kind with a “beam” of very energetic (high-speed) charged
particles. This is how a university or hospital can produce most if not
all of the isotopes it needs
without the need for a nuclear reactor. For many years, starting in 1949, McGill University got all of its isotopes this way,"
Also good read: http://www.ccnr.org/isotope_shortage.html
a bit of history on the conservative government of Brian Mulroney and
the privatization of the medical isotopes produced at NRU, a bad deal
that even hunts today! "In 1988, the Gov’t of Canada privatized the
only really profitable part of AECL’s operations, which was the radio-isotope production. AECL sold Nordion International Inc. (formerly the AECL division
known as the Radiochemical Company) to the Canada Development Investment Corporation (CDIC) for eventual privatization. In 1991, CDIC sold Nordion to MDS Health Group Ltd. for $165 million, and
it was reported that AECL received $150.5 million from CDIC, and that this “together with interest earned thereon between the dates of receipt and disbursement, has been distributed to the shareholder (i.e. gov’t of Canada) by way of dividends”. So AECL is responsible for designing and building and operating the reactors to produce the isotopes that MDS-Nordion sells for a profit. This also means that the radwaste and the decommissioning of the reactors is a public responsibility through AECL whereas the profits are a private matter for MDS-Nordion."
Posted by Zahra Yamani at 18:19
The news of new direction of CRL lab at a local paper: Feds move to privatize management of AECL: http://
www.thedailyobserver.ca/2013/ 03/02/ feds-move-to-privatize-manageme nt-of-aecl
...the paper quotes the president of AECL: "Walker admits that a rosy
future is still not a guarantee, but feels that the foundation of AECL
and its legacy of contribution to the nation’s science and technology
scene will be there no matter which sector is in charge of management.
“There’s always a risk in that the business may not continue to be sustainable,” he says, “but frankly, it’s ours to lose.”"
Posted by Zahra Yamani at 18:00
Friday, 1 March 2013
finally the news directly from the horses' mouth: Restructuring of
Atomic of Energy of Canada Limited — Nuclear Laboratories: http://www.nrcan.gc.ca/
Seems their plan only includes waste management, nuclear liability
issues and industry-driven fee-for-service based activities, there
doesn't seem to be anything related to basic science! "In the coming
months, the Government of Canada will engage in a competitive,
collaborative procurement process, including a Request for Proposals,
for the management and operation of AECL’s Nuclear Laboratories. The
Government is seeking to implement a Government-owned,
Contractor-operated (GoCo) model, as is done in other jurisdictions,
such as the United States and the United Kingdom.
Under the new management model, the Laboratories will focus on three key objectives:
-Managing its radioactive waste and decommissioning responsibilities
accumulated during the more than 60 years of nuclear research and
development at Chalk River and at Whiteshell Laboratories.
-Ensuring that Canada's world-class nuclear science and technology
capabilities and knowledge continue to support the federal government in
its nuclear roles and responsibilities — from health protection and
public safety to security and environmental protection.
-Providing access to industry to address its need for in-depth nuclear
science and technology expertise.This will include ongoing access to the
Laboratories, at fair market rates that ensure cost recovery, for
owners and operators of CANDU reactors as well as the CANDU and broader
nuclear supply chain in Canada."
Posted by Zahra Yamani at 05:27
new isotope production plan raises fears of more shortages: What the
government has decided is actually against their own Expert Panel who
advised to build a new multii-purpose research reactor to replace the
aging NRU reactor: http://
www.theglobeandmail.com/news/ politics/ ottawas-new-isotope-production- plan-raises-fears-of-more-shor tages/article9200603/
"The federal government is plowing ahead with its plan to revamp
Canada’s production system of medically critical isotopes, raising
concerns the country could face another scramble for medical imaging
services if the new system does not perform as expected.
Resources Minister Joe Oliver announced Thursday that Ottawa will
provide $25-million to three different groups to support development of
medical isotope technology that, by 2016, can replace production from
the aged nuclear reactor in Chalk River, Ont. Two emergency shutdowns of
the Chalk River reactor five years ago provoked a medical and political
furor when physicians were forced to delay diagnostic tests for cancer
and heart disease." ...In making the announcement, Mr. Oliver said the
federal investment will allow Canada to remain a leader in the
production of medical isotopes, without relying on a reactor fuelled by
high-enriched uranium, which is weapons-grade nuclear material. The
minister also announced Ottawa is launching a competitive bidding
process for private-sector operators of the AECL Chalk River
laboratories, where the isotope-producing research reactor is located.
While the federal government intends to get out of the isotope
business, it will continue to own the laboratories, which will focus
research on decommissioning nuclear sites, supporting the government’s
scientific needs, and supporting the industry’s research requirements on
a fee-for-service basis."
Posted by Zahra Yamani at 05:20
Statement by SNC-Lavalin on Federal direction of Nuclear Laboratories: http://www.4-traders.com/news/
SNC-Lavalin-Group-Inc-SNC-LAVAL IN-RESPONDS-TO-GOVERNMENT-OF-C ANADA-S-ANNOUNCEMENT-CONCERNIN G-NEW--16371546/
" SNC-Lavalin Inc. believes AECL and the Laboratories at Chalk River
are of significant importance to Canada's nuclear industry, and is
pleased with the Government's decision to restructure the management of
the Nuclear Laboratories. This is an important next step in making
Canada a Tier-1 nuclear nation, and in further developing a vibrant
national nuclear Science and Technology program.
We are eager to
learn more through the competitive procurement process and will consider
all of our options at that time. We look forward to continuing our
long-term business relationship with AECL. "
Posted by Zahra Yamani at 05:13
Statement by Bruce Power on Federal direction of Nuclear Laboratories: http://www.marketwire.com/
press-release/ statement-by-bruce-power-on-fed eral-direction-of-nuclear-labo ratories-1762740.htm
"The model being proposed by the Federal Government represents a
unique, public-private model based on a government-owned,
contractor-operated approach. As Canada's only private sector nuclear
operator, Bruce Power will continue to participate in the process as a
customer that relies on services from the AECL Nuclear Laboratories.
Canada's nuclear industry is a reliable source of affordable
electricity that keeps prices low for our families and businesses, while
protecting the air we breathe. Over the past 11 years, through the
Bruce Power public-private partnership model, the company has secured $7
billion in private investments into public assets, revitalizing the
Bruce site to its full operational potential. This has supported the
phase out of coal electricity in Ontario, which is one of the largest
climate change initiatives in North America."
Posted by Zahra Yamani at 05:10
Japan to Begin Restarting Idled Nuclear Plants, Leader Says: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/
03/01/world/asia/ japan-to-begin-restarting-idled -nuclear-plants.html?_r=0
" Japan will begin restarting its idled nuclear plants once new
safety guidelines are in place later this year, Prime Minister Shinzo
Abe said Thursday, moving to ensure a stable energy supply despite
public safety concerns after the Fukushima disaster.
In a speech
to Parliament, Mr. Abe pledged to restart nuclear plants that pass the
tougher guidelines, which are expected to be adopted by a newly created
independent watchdog agency, the Nuclear Regulation Authority, as early
as July. However, he did not specify when any of the reactors might
resume operation. News reports have suggested that it might take months
or even years to make the expensive upgrades needed to meet the new
All of Japan’s 50 operable nuclear reactors were
shut down following the March 2011 triple meltdown at the Fukushima
Daiichi plant, which spewed radiation across northern Japan after a huge
earthquake and tsunami knocked out vital cooling systems. Two were
later restarted as an emergency measure to avert power shortages in the
heavily populated region that includes the cities of Osaka and Kyoto.
Responding to public safety concerns, leaders from the previous
Democratic Party government had vowed to slowly phase out nuclear power
by the 2030s in favor of cleaner alternatives like solar and wind power.
However, Mr. Abe, who took power after his Liberal Democratic Party won
national elections in December, has vowed to shelve the planned
phaseout, saying that Japan needs stable and cheap electricity from
nuclear power to compete economically. "
Posted by Zahra Yamani at 05:02