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Importance of the Chalk River Nuclear Facility

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 0 0

"The free world's most powerful nuclear research station..."
The Chalk River nuclear facility represents Canada's significant role in nuclear research, technology and the production of medical isotopes. Located in Deep River approximately 180km northwest from Ottawa, it is home of major research and development to support and advance nuclear technology. Built as a collaboration between British and Canadian nuclear researchers2 in 19453, the Chalk River facility was the first nuclear reactor outside of the United States of America to go into operation. It was offshoot of the Allies nuclear effort and scientists and engineers from around the world who came to work on the Manhattan project. In 1952, Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL) was created by the government to promote the peaceful use of nuclear technologies. The site is a very advanced research facility drawing scientists and researchers from around the world. It is involved in many different fields or research; physics, metallurgy, chemistry, biology, engineering. The surrounding town houses the largest P.h.D population per capita in the world.4 It was the first CANDU reactor, setting a template for the other famous CANDU reactors around the world. It was the site of Canada's first5, and is the world's safest and most successful nuclear power plant. This was a partnership between AECL and Hydro-Electric Power Commission of Ontario during 1962. It has been recognized as a nuclear historic landmark by the American Nuclear Society. It marks Canada as being a important contributor to atomic research and power.

Nuclear Isotopes
The Chalk River facility was the first nuclear facility in the world to commercially manufacture isotopes that are not found in nature. The facility produces more medical isotopes then any other nuclear facility in the world and exports one-third of the world's medical isotope supply. The isotopes generated in the Chalk River station are used to treat 20 million people in 80 countries per year. It is currently Canada's only medical isotope provider,and it provides the United States of America with two-thirds of their isotope supply. Medical isotopes are very important and effective in the detection, tracing, and treatment of many diseases including cancer. It also produces one-third of the world's other radioisotopes for uses in fields of research and industry. Radioisotopes are used in materials testing for large-scale industrial facilities and other nuclear stations.

Bertram Brockhouse -- Neutron Spectrometry
In 1994 Bertram Brockhouse received the Nobel Prize for Physics because of his pioneering work in Neutron Spectrometry.6 His research and experiments were done at the Chalk River facility from 1950 to 1962. His research inspired the addition of the Canadian Neutron Beam to the Chalk River facility. It is now the main Neutron Beam center in Canada. The technique Neutron Spectrometry is now used around the world to look at different elements and materials.

Defining Moment of Canada
The Chalk River Nuclear Research Facility marks a defining moment for Canada. It's production and exportation of isotopes makes Canada a large player in the nuclear medical industry. It is also an extremely large part of Canada's finished goods exportation. Canada exports many raw materials and resources, but not very many finished products; medical isotopes fit into this niche. It's a good thing for Canada to have, "...exporting tritium-19, iodine-7 and other medical isotopes is a really important part of our international identity and economic shadow."7 It pioneers worldwide atomic research and is a model for other facilities and nuclear power plants across the world. It's CANDU8 reactor is famous for its safety and efficiency, and it the basis for the other CANDU reactors around the world. It was the first nuclear reactor in Canada and the first outside of the United States of America. It represents Canadian innovation in science and atomic research. "The Chalk River Nuclear facility shows off to the entire world that we Canadians are not simply caribou-eating lumberjacks, but scientifically advanced researchers."

"The free world's most powerful nuclear research station"
This quote is important because is sums up the Chalk River Nuclear Research facility in only a few words. It's the safest, the first in Canada, the most successful, an enormous producer of radioisotopes. It has scientists from all over the world, and it does research in many different fields of study. Even though it is dedicated to the peaceful use of atomic energy, it truly is the most powerful nuclear research station in the world.



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