SLOWPOKE-2

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

The SLOWPOKE-2 reactor has been operating safely and without incident at SRC since its commissioning in 1981. If an incident occurs that requires public disclosure (please see our Public Disclosure Protocol), it will be posted on this webpage. The reactor is low-power and is used as an analytical tool primarily for commercial analysis. Read our FAQ for more info.

SRC has initiated the process for decommissioning the SLOWPOKE-2 nuclear reactor after 37 years of service. The process is highly regulated and will be conducted under the stringent requirements of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC).

Decommissioning faq

SRC has evaluated all options and after 37 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 process of decommissioning 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 us. They are a Canadian company that completed the decommissioning at two other Canadian reactors. We will work closely with the regulator - the CNSC as well.

Safe LOW Power Kritical Experiment (SLOWPOKE)

SRC takes safety very seriously with safety being an over-riding priority for our organization. The SLOWPOKE-2 has been operating 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 arose for the other Canadian SLOWPOKE-2 nuclear reactors that have been decommissioned.

Of the seven SLOWPOKE-2 reactors that were commissioned in Canada, four have already been decommissioned.

Milestones

  • 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.

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.