SLOWPOKE-2 Facility News

  • On January 26th, 2023 the SLOWPOKE-2 Facility at RMC amended its initial application for the renewal of the operating licence from a requested 10-year to a 20-year term. CNSC has revised the Notice of Public Hearing correspondingly. The hearing will take place on April 19, 2023 via Zoom where SLOWPOKE-2 Facility Manager will provide a presentation about the Facility. The link to the webcast as well as all submissions will be available on the CNSC website. The RMC Licence application and its amendment are being communicated with the interested Indigenous communities.
  • Dr. Paul Chan was recognized for his contributions to the CANDU Fuel Technology during the 15th International Conference on CANDU Fuel on 23 August 2022. The conference was hosted by Cameco and the Canadian Nuclear Society, in cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency. Dr. Chan’s award was presented by Mr. Doug Jensen (from Cameco) and the Honorable Todd Smith (Minister of Energy).
    Award to Paul Chan (between Mr. Doug Jensen and the Honorable Todd Smith) for his contribution to the CANDU technology 

  • As of June 13, funding applications are being accepted by CNSC to assist Indigenous Nations and communities, members of the public and stakeholders in reviewing the applications. Applications are opened for participant funding until August 12 at the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission website
  • On June 6, CNSC informed that the operating licence renewal applications for the SLOWPOKE-2 Facility at RMC (as well as SLOWPOKE-2 Facility at Polytechnique Montréal) will be considered at a public hearing on April 19, 2023 (pdf). 
  • The SLOWPOKE-2 Facility’s Non-Power Reactor Operating Licence expires on June 30, 2023. The facility’s staff have put together an application for the 10-year licence renewal, and submitted it to CNSC on February 23.
  • CNSC’s staff conducted a training program compliance inspection of the Facility in January 2022. CNSC staff determined that RMC implements the training program requirements effectively and demonstrates good practices. CNSC staff found some areas of non-compliance with internal documentation, and therefore two actions have been raised for RMC to address, and one recommendation is offered for RMC’s consideration. SLOWPOKE-2 Facility is committed to fully address the findings by 30 November 2022.
  • By mid-September, SLOWPOKE-2 Research Reactor was refuelled for the first time in coordination with Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL), in compliance with all relevant regulatory agencies and under the existing license agreement with the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC).
    CNSC-licensed employees from CNL conducted the refuelling. CNL employed a highly specialized team skilled in reactor physics and fuels; environmental remediation measures; and security and radiation protection to ensure the safety and success of this operation.

    At the end of August CNL staff removed the old reactor core and shipped it to Chalk River waste management facility in accordance with CNSC guidelines. Then the reactor was commissioned with a newly fabricated core manufactured at CNL’s Chalk River Laboratories campus.

    As a result of this work, the reactor will continue to operate for the next 30+ years.
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  • CNSC staff performed a compliance inspection of the SLOWPOKE-2 refueling project on August 28 and September 3, 2021. The inspection covered eleven safety and control areas, and the Public Information Program. RMC was found in compliance with all criteria and therefore no compliance actions were raised. In fact, CNSC staff noted the high level of professionalism, expertise, and attention to details that the refueling team displayed during the project.

  • Despite of the COVID-19 pandemic work continues at the SLOPWOKE-2 Facility. RMC directed their employees to work from home and avoid coming into their offices and laboratories.  However, both Dr. Chan and Dr. Samuleev were granted special permission to be physically present at RMC for a couple of days a week.

    Coronavirus protection measures for SLOWPOKE staff and employees was initiated and maintained.  In addition to wearing face masks, providing hand sanitizer, and instituting physical distancing, employees were working on different days or, if not suitable, in different rooms. As a result of measures taken, none of the SLOWPOKE-2 Facility staff, operators, and users were infected with SARS-Cov-2 virus.

  • RMC and the Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) continue working on the refueling of the SLOWPOKE-2 reactor at RMC. The refueling project is on schedule. However, there are some impacts from COVID-19 which principally affect on-site product verification and inspection. It is expected that reactor will be refueled by the end of the summer of 2021 and the whole process should take approximately 8 weeks.

  • Due to the COVID-19 restrictions Facility tours were limited. Slightly more than 100 cadets had a chance to visit the Facility prior to start of the pandemic.

  • CNSC License Compliance Inspection was completed on 21st of February 2019. The inspection contained nineteen points of verification in ten Safety and Control Areas and the Public Information Program. As a result of inspection, no compliance actions were raised. CNSC staff noted some areas where improvements to best practices could be implemented for the benefit of the facility and personnel.

  • RMC continues working on the refuelling project for the SLOWPOKE-2 Facility. The Government of Canada has awarded a contract to Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) to refuel the SLOWPOKE-2 nuclear reactor. The work started in July 2019. The contract will span 30 months. The first 24 months will involve material procurement, process qualification, and core fabrication. The remaining six months will include the removal of the old core, commissioning the reactor with a newly fabricated core, transfer of the spent core to a licensed nuclear waste management facility at CNL, and completion of project closeout documentation.

  • The SLOWPOKE-2 Facility had a Type II Security Inspection by the CNSC Security Section on October 23rd, 2019. CNSC Security team pointed out two actions and six recommendations of how to improve security in and around the Facility as a result of the inspection. The inspection findings are confidential and cannot be listed in the media. The SLOWPOKE-2 Facility team at RMC is working on addressing these findings with tentative completion date December 2021.

  • RMC SLOWPOKE-2 Facility had a PIV(Physical Inventory Verification) and DIV (Design Inventory Verification) inspections by IAEA (International Atomic Energy Association) on November 1st, 2019. The results of both inspections were satisfactory with no actions or recommendations issued.

  • In 2019 SLOWPOKE-2 personnel provided tours of the Facility to more than 360 visitors from military and non-military organisations as well as members of general public.

  • Dr. Pavel Samuleev appointed as a Director of the SLOWPOKE-2 Facility.
  • RMC continues working on the refuelling project for the SLOWPOKE-2 Facility. Currently Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) is managing a turnkey sole source contract with Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) (formerly Atomic Canada Nuclear Limited), the original designers of the SLOWPOKE-2 reactor. All necessary documents were prepared and require Treasury Board approval.
  • Dr. Pavel Samuleev has been appointed as the Interim Director of the SLOWPOKE-2 Facility.
  • The SLOWPOKE-2 Facility at the Royal Military College (RMC) of Canada was commissioned in 1985, to support the operational and research needs of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF).  Since that time, the reactor has become a valued instrument for the CAF and a range of other Government Department and international partners. The reactor provides an important capability for the Government of Canada by contributing to the education of CAF personnel, operational readiness, Canadian nuclear and radiological expertise, rapid response for environmental and nuclear forensics analysis, and nuclear emergency response.  Extending the life of the only federally-owned nuclear reactor after 2018 will ensure the rapid response for environmental and nuclear forensics analysis and nuclear emergency response.
    RMC has received an approval for refueling the SLOWPOKE-2 reactor.  Refueling will mean that the education, training, research and technical support provided by the Facility to the DND, CAF, and Canada will continue for the next 30 years.
  • Dr. Katharina Guenther took leave of absence from a position of a Director of the SLOWPOKE-2 Facility.
  • Dr. Katharina Guenther appointed as a Director of the SLOWPOKE-2 Facility.
  • Kathy Nielsen, Director of the SLOWPOKE-2 Facility, retired after 26 years of service.
  • RMC applied to NDHQ for funds to refuel the reactor
  • Two new chillers installed to replace two heat pumps used to cool the pool water
  • SIRCIS control system installed to provide two different speeds for the control rod.
  • CNSC approved operation of Neutron Beam Tube with reactor at full power (License amendment 20.03/2013).
  • New natural gas-fired backup generator dedicated solely to SLOWPOKE-2 installed and commissioned. Old Diesel unit disconnected.
  • 8th shim installed on the SLOWPOKE reactor by AECL staff. Reactivity shimmed to 3.97 mk.
  • New version of the digital control system SIRCIS 2.0 commissioned.
  • CNSC-certified Maintainers replaced control rod assembly and old thermocouples.
  • New reactor deioniser system is installed.
  • New CCD cameras for neutron radiography installed.
  • Pool water deionised system is replaced. A UV light sterilizer is installed to kill bacteria in the pool.
  • Intrusion alarms are upgraded and irradiation transfer tubes replaced.
  • Digital control system (SIRCIS) and fire alarms are installed in the Facility.
  • Scintillation camera introduced into uppermost beam stop of neutron radiography system.
  • RMC opening ceremony for Neutron Radiography System.
  • SLOWPOKE-2 at the RMC goes critical using LEU as fuel.
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