SRC has initiated the process for decommissioning the SLOWPOKE-2 nuclear reactor after 38 years of service. Missed the public information meeting about the SLOWPOKE-2 decommissioning? View the presentation


  • All radioactive materials related to the SLOWPOKE-2 decommissioning project have been successfully removed and delivered to licenced, authorized disposal contractors. The SLOWPOKE-2 facility has been inspected and tested to confirm no residual radioactive materials remain within the site.
  • SRC has submitted an application to CNSC for a Licence to Abandon, which removes the operating license for SRC originally held for the SLOWPOKE research reactor. CNSC will conduct a hearing in August 2021 to consider SRC’s application for the revocation of its non-power reactor operating licence following the decommissioning of the SRC SLOWPOKE-2 reactor facility, as well as for the issuance of a licence to abandon the facility. Details on how to participate are here.
  • CNSC Amends SRC's Non-Power Reactor Operating Licence - Read
  • SLOWPOKE-2 Research Reactor Successfully Transitioned into a Safe State - Read


SLOWPOKE-2 was a nuclear research reactor housed at SRC Environmental Analytical Laboratories. It was used as an analytical tool for doing neutron activation analysis to determine uranium and other elemental concentrations in a wide variety of sample types for various industries.

The SLOWPOKE-2 reactor operated safely and without incident at SRC since its commissioning in 1981. Read our FAQ for more info.

Decommissioning faq

SRC initiated the process for decommissioning the SLOWPOKE-2 nuclear reactor after 38 years of service. The process is highly regulated and will be conducted under the stringent requirements of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC). Candu Energy Inc., a member of the SNC-Lavalin Group, has been selected to provide decommissioning services for the reactor. Read SNC-Lavalin Group's news release.

SRC evaluated all options and after 38 years of service, the most business practical and cost-effective solution is to decommission the reactor.

It is expected that the decommissioning process will take approximately two to three years.

The process to initiate decommissioning with the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) was started in December 2017.

The reactor is used as an analytical tool to analyze for uranium and organic halides. It is used as a neutron source for an analytical technique referred to as neutron activation analysis (NAA) – which is carried out by bombarding the sample with neutrons to produce isotopes of the element that are measured based on their gamma emissions.

The services the reactor currently provides will be replaced with alternative, just as effective, technologies through SRC Environmental Analytical Laboratories.

SRC expects the decommissioning to cost approximately $6.5 million.

The CNSC nuclear reactor operating license requires SRC to hold funds in trust for decommissioning. For more than a decade, SRC has been slowly building this trust. 

We do not anticipate any at this time.

The decommissioning process is highly regulated and will be conducted under the stringent requirements of the CNSC.

The materials will be tested and treated or disposed of in an approved manner.

SRC has contracted SNC-Lavalin to assist with the process. They are a Canadian company that decommissioned two other Canadian reactors. We will work closely with the regulator, CNSC, as well.

It stands for Safe LOW Power Kritical Experiment (SLOWPOKE).

SRC takes safety very seriously and its an over-riding priority for our organization. The SLOWPOKE-2 has operated trouble free since its commissioning in 1981. Its design is fail-safe and does not require an active mechanical safety system. Heat produced by the reactor limits its reactivity and operation. In addition, there are several safety system shut downs in place to keep employees and the facility safe. People who live, work and study in the surrounding community are safe.

No other safety or security incidents occurred for the other Canadian SLOWPOKE-2 nuclear reactors that were decommissioned.

Seven SLOWPOKE-2 reactors were commissioned in Canada, but four have already been decommissioned.


  • March 1981: The SLOWPOKE-2 reactor was commissioned.
  • March 25, 1981: The first commercial sample was processed.
  • March 29, 2016: SRC celebrates 35 years of safe operation and no incidents, 232,000 tests performed and over 19,000 hours of operation.
  • August 2016: Two of SRC's senior level research reactor operators had their operator certification renewed by the CNSC for the next five years.
  • May 2017: Two SRC employees were certified by the CNSC as SLOWPOKE Reactor Operators (effective May 16, 2017).
  • Dave Chorney, SRC’s current longest-serving operator of our SLOWPOKE-2 nuclear research reactor, has held an operating license for 30 years. 
  • January 17, 2018: The SLOWPOKE-2 reactor surpassed 20,000 hours of operation for its lifetime.
  • February 7, 2019: 100,000 flux-hours was reached at 11:45 a.m.
  • September 26, 2019: SRC transitioned its SLOWPOKE-2 research reactor into a non-operational safe state.
  • December 9, 2019: CNSC amends SRC's non-power reactor operating licence, authorizing SRC to decommission its SLOWPOKE-2 facility to achieve an end-state of unrestricted use

SRC conducts its operations with the highest regard for the safety and health of its employees and the public, and for the protection and preservation of property and the environment.

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission granted SRC a license to operate the SLOWPOKE-2 research reactor more than 30 years ago.