Atomic Energy of Canada Limited


Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL) and the United States Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (DOE/NNSA) today announced the completion of a multi-year project to repatriate highly enriched uranium (HEU) liquid target residue material from the Chalk River Laboratories in Ontario, Canada to the Savannah River Site in Aiken, South Carolina.   

The material was the by-product of the production of medical isotopes from AECL’s National Research Universal reactor. While the research reactor is now shutdown, for many decades it produced medical isotopes used for the treatment and diagnosis of cancer and other diseases. Over the years, this benefited billions of people in Canada and around the world. The medical isotopes were produced using HEU supplied by the United States.   

The shipping project, which began in 2017 and finished in August of 2020, involved 115 separate truck shipments, resulting in the return of more than 161 kilograms of HEU. Over the four-years of the campaign, the shipments covered more than 240,000 kilometers of safe and secure transportation, equivalent to traveling around the earth six times.    

Together, the completion of this shipping campaign, along with the recently completed campaign of spent nuclear fuel from the National Research Universal and National Research Experimental research reactors, resulted in the repatriation of more than 367 kilograms of HEU.  

This not only reduces Canada’s environmental liabilities and risks, it also serves our nuclear security and non-proliferation objectives by reducing the availability of this material.  

The target residue material was returned to the United States under the U.S.-Origin Foreign Research Reactor Spent Nuclear Fuel Acceptance Program, which was established in 1996 with the mission to repatriate U.S.-origin spent nuclear fuel and other weapons-grade nuclear material from civilian sites worldwide.  

Canadian Nuclear Laboratories, the United States Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management, Savannah River Nuclear Solutions and Savannah River National Laboratory were key partners and played a pivotal role in the success of the campaign. AECL and DOE/NNSA continue to explore the repatriation of additional highly enriched uranium and other materials over the next several years. 

Press release from the United States Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (DOE/NNSA)) :