Government of Canada

Government of Canada

May 16, 2008 09:00 ET

Government of Canada Accepts AECL's Decision to End the MAPLE Project

Statement

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - May 16, 2008) - The Honourable Gary Lunn, Minister of Natural Resources and the Honourable Tony Clement, Minister of Health, today issued the following statement:

"The Government of Canada accepts the decision of the Board of Directors of Atomic Energy of Canada (AECL) to terminate the MAPLE reactors project which was initiated in 1996 to produce medical isotopes. After 12 years, these reactors have never worked and never produced medical isotopes.

Today's decision has no impact on the supply of medical isotopes. The existing NRU facility will continue to provide a reliable and consistent supply. The Government is contacting provinces and territories and key medical experts to assure them there will be no disruption of supply.

The decision to terminate the MAPLE reactors is the result of a complete due diligence process by AECL's new management team and Board that our government appointed in January 2008. As part of this due diligence, the MAPLE project was subject to thorough testing including one in April 2008, which all failed. The Board has concluded that there is no sound reason to continue the MAPLE project.

The project has long been crippled with both technical and economic impediments, which remained unresolved. Among the many factors are:

- Regulatory challenges and commercial disputes which so far have cost hundreds of millions of dollars in private and public funds;

- Technical malfunctions that could not be resolved; and

- Reviews conducted by the Auditor General which revealed significant concerns about the costs, the delays, and the technical issues.

AECL has been asked by the Government to pursue an extension of the NRU operation beyond its current license to ensure the ongoing supply of medical isotopes.

The decision to terminate the MAPLE project is in the taxpayers' best interest and will allow AECL to focus its efforts on its existing commercial business operations that are more financially viable.
As part of a commitment to good governance, the Government of Canada is continuing with its review of AECL. This review is intended to give us the information we need to make the right decisions for the long-term future of the company."

NRCan's news releases and backgrounders are available at www.nrcan.gc.ca/media

Contact Information

  • Media
    Natural Resources Canada, Ottawa
    Office of the Minister
    Bernadette Murphy
    Acting Director of Communications
    613-996-2007
    or
    Office of the Minister of Health, Ottawa
    Rita Smith
    Director of Communications
    613-957-0200
    or
    General public
    Mon-Fri, 8:30-4:30 EDT
    Telephone: 613-995-0947
    TTY: 613-996-4397 (teletype for the hearing-impaired)
    questions@nrcan.gc.ca