Commissioned in April 1977, the University of Alberta's Safe Low Power Kritical Experiment (SLOWPOKE) Nuclear Reactor Facility is a low-power reactor used to support research, teaching and industry. The reactor was located on the U of A main campus until the end of July 2017; the decommissioning was officially completed in June 2018.
June 2018: Official Completion of the Decommissioning of the University of Alberta SLOWPOKE Nuclear Reactor Facility
As stated in the last SLOWPOKE decommissioning update, the physical decommissioning of the University of Alberta SLOWPOKE Nuclear Reactor Facility was completed prior to the end of October 2017. The University of Alberta applied that same month to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) for a licence to have the site released for unrestricted use (i.e., a Licence to Abandon).
On May 25, 2018 the CNSC signed and subsequently issued the University of Alberta a Licence to Abandon the reactor facility, while simultaneously revoking the non-power operating licence.
You will find the CNSC Record of Decision regarding the issuance of the Licence to Abandon (and simultaneous revocation of the University of Alberta SLOWPOKE reactor operating licence) here.
The issuance of the Licence to Abandon marks the official completion of the decommissioning of the University of Alberta SLOWPOKE facility and the release of the site for unrestricted use.
The decommissioning of the SLOWPOKE Reactor Facility was completed without incident, which is in large part due to the detailed planning that went into the preparation for, and execution of, the project.
Reactor operations ceased on June 30, 2017 and the reactor core was subsequently removed and shipped to the United States in late July 2017.
All site-related decommissioning activities were completed before the end of October 2017.
The University of Alberta has applied to the CNSC for a license to have the site released for use without restrictions.
Photograph showing the removal of the shielded reactor core in preparation for transportation to the United States
Photograph showing the loading of the shielded reactor core in preparation for shipping it to the United States
SLOWPOKE Reactor Decommissioning Public Information Update
- The project for de-fueling of the University of Alberta SLOWPOKE nuclear reactor has gone very well.
- In preparation for the defueling of the reactor and transportation of the core, arrangements for security escorts and first responders were put in place. The loading of the shipping container onto the transport truck occurred on August 5th and the university received confirmation that the shipment arrived at the SRS site in South Carolina on August 7th without any delays or incidents.
- The University of Alberta continues to work with and through the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) on the sequential steps related to the final decommissioning activities of the SLOWPOKE reactor. This includes an amendment to the operational license to remove the remaining components as part of the more formal decommissioning process.
- The removal of components (reactor shield, control panels, test samples of concrete) is planned to commence mid-August and will extend out through end of September/mid-October. All work continues to be carried out in accordance with all regulations and safe work practices.
- The university will provide an update to the community on the project at a future Fall meeting. Updates have been provided previously to the community through ad hoc community meetings throughout the process and updates were published to the Public Disclosure website, as required by the CNSC.
- Updates on the decommissioning of SLOWPOKE were provided to the internal university community through Dean's Council, General Faculties Council and Board Safety, Health and Environment Committee over the course of the lengthy process.
- Copies of a brochure that highlight the decommissioning process along with contact information for any inquiries were readily available for anyone interested in knowing more.
Below you will find the following documents that refer to the SLOWPOKE decommissioning process to date:
SLOWPOKE Reactor Decommissioning Public Info Meeting
On October 6, 2016 the University of Alberta held a public information meeting to to review information about the plans for the decommissioning the SLOWPOKE Reactor. University of Alberta representatives were on hand to answer questions.
If you were unable to attend the public information meeting, you can view the information presented on the following: uab.ca/community
Public Information Meeting presentation
If you have any questions, please contact Emily Ball at (780) 492-4345 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Through a public procurement process the University of Alberta has selected Candu Energy Inc. a subsidiary of the SNC Lavalin group to undertake the activities required for decommissioning of the University of Alberta - SLOWPOKE nuclear reactor. Candu Energy Inc. will be responsible for working within and leading all activities required by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) for the reactor decommissioning process.
The SLOWPOKE reactor is a Class I (non-power) nuclear facility licensed and regulated by the CNSC. The current non-power reactor operating license was issued in June 2013 for a ten-year period.
The CNSC inspects the facility annually.
All SLOWPOKE staff and visitors must abide by the university's comprehensive health and safety program, developed and managed by Environment, Health & Safety. The facility also maintains an emergency response program in collaboration with University of Alberta Protective Services (UAPS) and Fire Rescue Services (FRS).
The SLOWPOKE reactor meets CNSC environment, health and safety regulations.