Despite the positive assessment of commission staff, some of the commissioners wondered if the assurances given by the AECL were trustworthy. The leak was caused by a buildup of nitric acid which corroded the walls of the vessel. He noted that three years ago, the commission issued a licence to AECL based on its promise that the reactor was fit to operate for five years. Two years later, it was being shut down because it had sprang a leak. Commissioner Alan Graham wondered why the problem was not detected and caught before the licence was issued, and asked CNSC staff if AECL could be relied on again when it says the same reactor is safe to operate.
"Is there anything that's been overlooked?" Graham asked. "AECL have been before us with the same words. Are we in a position to be assured that these words are not just words?"
Pilkington acknowledged that mistakes were made. He said lack of appropriate technology, combined with a number of wrong assumptions about the operations played a part in the leak. But he said the right lessons have been learned.
This is truly the mark of this country! When I was in the old company, time and time again some useless division would screw up, and always say that they had 'learned their lessons', and would never screw up again!
To be absolutely certain, they re-inspected the reactor vessel following the June 23 earthquake. The seismic event registered 5.0 on the Richter scale at its epicentre, located north of Ottawa, but this was reduced to between 3.0 and 4.0 by the time the tremors reached Chalk River. The facility is qualified to withstand an earthquake of up to 6.0, which is 10 times stronger than the one which shook the Ottawa Valley.
Their ignorance of seismic issues will only become obvious when there is a real earthquake. Until then, we are all happy, happy with their assurances...
Other than that, bring on the isotopes! :)