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Medical Isotope Production without Highly Enriched Uranium
Development of an LEU-based Mo-99 production process: The committee understands that R&D work has been carried out at Chalk River to develop a conceptual design for an LEU target, (a) What was the nature of that work? (b) Was a physical LEU target ever developed? (c) Has any cold testing or radiotracer testing been carried out on unirradiated LEU targets to investigate target processing/Mo-99 recovery? (d) Have LEU targets having a similar design to NRU fuel been developed or tested?
Conversion of the Dedicated Isotope Facility to LEU-based production: The committee understands that AECL carried out a study to assess the feasibility of converting the Dedicated Isotope Facility to process LEU targets, (a) What were the results of that study? (b) Can the facility be converted to LEU-based Mo-99 production without major modifications? What would be the cost and time required for conversion? (c) If not, what modifications are required, and what would be the cost and time required for making them?
Coordinating the development of an LEU-based process with HEU-basedproduction: (a) Is AECL carrying out or have any plans to carry out R&D work on conversion of Mo-99 production to LEU targets? (b) Are there any technical impediments to carrying out such R&D work using the NRU and New Processing Facility while HEU-based production is maintained in current facilities? (c) Is there enough spare irradiation capacity in the NRU to carry out such work?
Management of HEU waste from target processing: (a) Has AECL considered down-blending the HEU wastes from isotope production at Chalk River? (b) Does AECL have any plans to return these wastes to the United States?
Costs of producing Mo-99: The press has reported that AECL provides a $50 million annual subsidy to Mo-99 production at Chalk River. (a) Is this estimate accurate? If not, what is the annual subsidy? (b) What fraction of the federal government’s subsidy to AECL for the operation of the NRU and other facilities is allocated to isotope production activities?