Government of Canada

Government of Canada

July 08, 2009 12:13 ET

Statement: The Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, P.C., M.P., Minister of Health, and the Honourable Lisa Raitt, P.C., M.P., Minister of Natural Resources

Joint Statement from the Minister of Natural Resources and the Minister of Health on Extended NRU Shutdown

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - July 8, 2009) - As Ministers of Natural Resources and Health, we are disappointed with AECL's announcement today of delays to the repair of the National Research Universal Reactor (NRU) at Chalk River. We wish to be clear to Canadians. The unplanned shutdown of the NRU will result in a significant shortage of medical isotopes in Canada and in the world this summer.

The health and welfare of Canadians is the top priority of the Government of Canada, and we understand that AECL's announcement today - extending the period of shutdown - is of concern to Canadians. We are likewise very concerned about and understand the seriousness of the effect of this announcement on Canadian families.

Since the shutdown of the NRU in May, we have been working tirelessly with the Canadian medical community and with international isotope producers to help manage supply shortage and minimize its impact. These international discussions have brought all isotope-producing countries to the table to maximize production from existing reactors, coordinate and minimize outage times and help address the current global shortage. As a result of this successful international outreach, the impact of the shortage of medical isotopes in Canada and around the world has been mitigated by responses from other reactor operators and isotope suppliers.

Nonetheless, we expect a period of more critical shortage during the month of August. For this reason, careful management of available supplies by the health care community and the successful identification of alternatives will remain essential. As the Minister of Health, I urge medical professionals to prepare for such shortages. As the Minister of Natural Resources, I have directed AECL to give paramount priority to bringing the Chalk River reactor back to service as quickly and safely as possible and will hold AECL accountable to that end.

The following backgrounder is available at www.nrcan.gc.ca/media:

Government of Canada Actions to Address the Medical Isotope Shortage

Contact Information

  • Office of the Honourable Lisa Raitt
    Ottawa
    Jocelyn Turner
    Press Secretary
    613-996-2007
    or
    Natural Resources Canada - Ottawa
    Media Relations
    613-992-4447
    or
    Office of the Honourable Leona Aglukkaq
    Ottawa
    Josee Bellemare
    Press Secretary
    613-957-0200
    or
    Health Canada - Ottawa
    Media Relations
    613-957-2983