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Cablegate: Legislation Passed, Aecl Restarts Reactor

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P 131937Z DEC 07
FM AMEMBASSY OTTAWA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7029
INFO RUCNCAN/ALL CANADIAN POSTS COLLECTIVE
RUEHBS/AMEMBASSY BRUSSELS 0719
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 0979
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RUEHTC/AMEMBASSY THE HAGUE 3467
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STATE FRO WHA, OES, AND ISN
HHS FOR OFFICE OF GLOBAL HEALTH AFFAIRS
DOE FOR NE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: TBIO ECON KSCA CA
SUBJECT: LEGISLATION PASSED, AECL RESTARTS REACTOR

REF: OTTAWA 2255

Sensitive But Unclassified. Please protect accordingly.

(SBU) The Canadian Senate passed Bill C-38 the evening of
December 12, and it received Royal Assent shortly thereafter,
making the bill law and completing an extraordinary
legislative journey that saw the Canadian Parliament override
the country's nuclear regulator. The new law permits AECL to
restart and continue operating its National Research
Universal (NRU) reactor at Chalk River, Ontario, for a period
of 120 days, despite NRU's non-conformance with the
conditions of its operating license. The matter at issue,
the installation of "seismically qualified motor starters on
the heavy water pumps and their connection to the emergency
power supply," was mandated when the Canadian Nuclear Safety
Commission last renewed NRU's license in 2006. One of the
two required pumps is already installed and commissioned, and
AECL had assured the government the reactor could operate
safely with only the one pump in place. AECL has the
equipment and components in Chalk River to install and
connect the second pump, but will now restart NRU before
finishing the second installation. AECL has stated it can
complete the work within the 120 period authorized by the
legislation. As of mid-day December 13, AECL announced the
restart was underway and that production of medical
radioisotopes should be back to normal within seven to eight
days. AECL continues to assert its "absolute and unwavering
commitment to safety." As officials from Natural Resources
Canada told us, all along this was more a licensing issue
than a safety one.

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WILKINS

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