Canada to Seek Bids to Operate AECL Medical Isotope Labs

Canada will seek bids from private companies to operate Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd.’s nuclear laboratories, Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver said.

The federal government plans to restructure the management and operation of the laboratories to adopt a model under which the government will own the facilities and a private contractor will run them, Oliver said in a statement released today. The labs, located in Chalk River, Ont., produce medical isotopes that help to treat diseases such as cancer.

A reactor at the labs supplies isotopes to companies such as Nordion Inc. of Ottawa. The government shut down the reactor for repairs in 2009 for more than a year.

Canada sold AECL’s CANDU reactor division in 2011 to SNC-Lavalin Group Inc., a Montreal-based construction and engineering company based in Montreal. The government is assessing whether to invest in “longer-term nuclear innovation,” according to the statement.