Feds to hand over AECL lab management to private sector

A sign is seen outside the reactor at the Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL) nuclear facility in Chalk River, Ontario



OTTAWA - A private company will be in charge of managing Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd.'s (AECL) nuclear labs at Chalk River, Ont., within two years.

Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver announced Thursday that the feds are seeking a private sector company to handle the day-to-day management of the nuclear labs and will soon start the bidding process.

The move is the third and final step of the government's restructuring of AECL, which included the sale of the CANDU reactor to SNC-Lavalin in 2011.

The site's National Research Universal (NRU) research reactor currently produces much of the world's supply of medical isotopes.  

The federal government will phase out highly enriched isotope production at Chalk River in 2016. NRU will shift its focus to managing radioactive waste and offering various research services to industry and government.

Ottawa will also provide $25 million in funding for research into finding alternative sources of medical isotopes.

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