Skip to McMaster Navigation Skip to Site Navigation Skip to main content
McMaster logo

Nuclear

Operations & Facilities

Public Disclosure

McMaster Nuclear Reactor (MNR) operates under a Non-Power Reactor operating license issued by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission. Communication with our community is a key part of our operation. The MNR public disclosure policy is available on this page. In addition to the MNR, we also have a radioisotope production facility at the McMaster University Cyclotron Facility (MUCF). 

These facilities also operate under CNSC license and have a public disclosure protocol. MNR and the MUCF use a public disclosure protocol to relate information to the public on the issues relevant to licensed activities in the facility including: health and safety, security, environmental impacts, and issues related to the lifecycle of the facility.

For more information on the NO&F public disclosure protocol click here

Expandable List

On November 15, 2021, McMaster University was informed by a customer in Europe that one of their packages containing the medical isotope I-125 for patient treatment was found to have higher than normal radiological readings.

Prior to leaving the McMaster Nuclear Reactor, medical isotopes are securely and safely packaged within multiple layers of containment; the final one being a shipping box.  Packages are closely monitored and inspected before they leave the facility.  In this case, none of the packaging was found damaged and there was no release of material out of the package, however, the higher fields detected by the customer need to be investigated and MNR is working with their customer to determine the cause.

There were no radiological consequences to the public or environment, as a result of this event.

McMaster University has reported the incident to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) and is following up on this non conformance.

McMaster University tested its response to an on-campus fire incident during a virtual exercise on Friday, June 18 beginning at 10:00AM.

The exercise, in collaboration with the city’s emergency services, involved a tabletop fire scenario in the McMaster Nuclear Reactor.

While there were emergency response vehicles and personnel on campus, this was a test and had no impact to the community.

The CNSC conducted a Management System inspection at the facility on March 2 – 3, 2021.  The CNSC will summarize the results of the inspection in a formal report and will provide it to the University in the next few weeks.

On March 16, 2021, McMaster University was informed that the outer container of a package containing the medical isotope, I-125 for patient treatment, was found damaged at a Toronto airport warehouse, while in transit to a customer in China.

Prior to leaving the McMaster Nuclear Reactor, medical isotopes are securely and safely packaged within multiple layers of containment; the final one being a shipping box.  Packages are closely monitored and inspected before they leave the facility.  In this case, it was the final layer of the shipping box which was noted to be damaged.  McMaster staff evaluated pictures of the package and determined that there was likely no safety impact associated with the incident.  The package was returned to McMaster where the package was assessed and confirmed to have only minor exterior damage.

There were no radiological consequences to the public or environment, as a result of this event.

McMaster University has reported the incident to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) and has repackaged the medical isotope for shipment to the customer in China.

On April 19, 2020, McMaster University was informed that the outer container of a package containing the medical isotope, I-125 for patient treatment, was found damaged after arriving in Montreal, Quebec from Toronto Pearson airport.

Prior to leaving the McMaster Nuclear Reactor, medical isotopes are securely and safely packaged within multiple layers of containment; the final one being a shipping box. Packages are closely monitored and inspected before they leave the facility. In this case, it was the final layer of the shipping box which was noted to be damaged. McMaster staff evaluated the package and determined that there was no safety impact associated with the incident. The package will be repacked and sent to the medical facility at its destination in China.

There were no radiological consequences to the public or environment, as a result of this event.

McMaster University has reported the incident to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) and is working with local staff in Quebec to coordinate repackaging of the shipment.

Please see below for McMaster Nuclear Operations and Facilities response to COVID-19

Covid19 Nuclear Operations Memo 18March2020_finalCH

The CNSC conducted a Human Performance Management inspection at the facility on March 9-10, 2020. The CNSC will summarize the results of the inspection in a formal report and will provide it to the University in the next few weeks.

Security experts from the CNSC conducted a Security inspection at the facility on October 22, 2019. The CNSC will summarize the results of the inspection in a formal report and will provide it to the University in the next few weeks.

McMaster University will test its response to an on-campus radiological incident during an exercise on Wednesday, September 25 beginning at 9:30 a.m.

The exercise, in collaboration with the city’s emergency services, will involve an accident scenario in the McMaster Nuclear Reactor.

While there will be emergency response vehicles and personnel on campus, this is a test and will have no impact to the community.

Click here for more details

 

On January 22nd, 2019, a package containing Lu-177 was shipped from the MUCF and was delivered to the wrong hospital. Fortunately, the receiving hospital was equipped and staffed to handle the delivery. Subsequently, they reshipped the isotope to its intended destination.

On January 6th, 2019, a courier vehicle transporting F-18 produced at the MUCF had a tire blow out. The blowout caused the vehicle to hit a guardrail which resulted in minor damage to the vehicle. However, the F-18 package was undamaged. Another vehicle was dispatched and the shipment has since been received by the consignee without further incident.

Technical experts from the CNSC conducted a Type II inspection at the facility on November 14/15, 2018. The CNSC will summarize the results of the inspection in a formal report and will provide it to the University in the next few weeks.

McMaster University has applied to the CNSC for a license to use, ship and store the radio isotope Zirconium 89. Zr-89 is a short lived positron emitting isotope used for the diagnosis and treatment of various illnesses.

On Tuesday July 31, 2018, McMaster University was informed that the outer container of a package containing medical isotopes used to treat prostate cancer was found to be damaged upon arrival at the Lufthansa warehouse at Pearson Airport in Toronto, ON. The medical isotope was securely and safely packaged within 5 separate layers of containment; the final one being the shipping box which was noted to be damaged.

McMaster staff responded to the warehouse, inspected and performed radiological surveys of the package.  We determined that there was no safety impact associated with the incident. The package was repackaged and is currently in transit to the customer.

There was no release of radiation from this shipment and no threat to the public, environment or safety as a result of this incident.

On July 15, 2018, McMaster University was informed that the outer container of a package containing the medical isotope, Lu-177 for medical use, was found damaged upon arrival at the airport in Australia.

Prior to leaving the MUCF, medical isotopes are securely and safely packaged within multiple layers of containment; the final one being a shipping box.  Packages are closely monitored and inspected before they leave the facility.  In this case, it was this final layer of shipping box which was noted to be damaged.  Australian authorities inspected the package and determined that there was no safety impact associated with the incident.  The package was repacked and sent to the medical facility later that day.

There were no radiological consequences to the public or environment, as a result of this event.  No activity was released from the package. McMaster University has reported the incident to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) and is working with the transportation company to investigate the cause of the damage.

During normal operations this morning (May 25 2018) a quantity of F-18 failed to deliver to its intended hot cell and was trapped in the delivery line.  This resulted in elevated radiation fields in a small area adjacent to the eastern doors to the facility.  As a precaution the affected area was marked off with chains and bollards to ensure no member of the public was exposed to the elevated fields.   At no time were fields of sufficient magnitude to present a hazard to the general public.

On February 08, 2018, two packages of F-18 for medical use were delivered to the air carrier, one destined for Thunder Bay and one destined for Ottawa. Both packages had their flights
rescheduled by the carrier. The two shipments were then both delivered to Ottawa one on the 8th of February and the second on the 9th.

An investigation is ongoing.

Technical Experts from the CNSC conducted a Type II Inspection at the facility on November 23, 2017. The CNSC will summarize the results of the Inspection in a formal report and provide it to the University in the next few weeks.

IAEA Inspectors attended MNR on November 3, 2017 to perform a facility inspection.

The IAEA will summarize the results of the Inspection in a formal report and provide it to the University in due course.

The CNSC has renewed the McMaster University Cyclotron Facility (MUCF) service license for a 5 year period, expiring May 31, 2022.   There were no substantial changes to the MUCF sections of the service license.

IAEA Inspectors attended MNR on March 8, 2017 to perform an Interim Inventory verification and Design Information Verification as provided for in the Non Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Agreement.
 
The IAEA will summarize the results of the Inspection in a formal report and provide it to the University in due course.

On February 28, 2017, the McMaster University Cyclotron Facility (MUCF) received an amendment to its license to operate requiring that it maintain a Public Information Disclosure Program (PIDP).  Going forward this site will contain any announcements or news releases that are required under the MUCF PIDP policy.

echnical Experts from the CNSC conducted a Type II Inspection at the facility on July 28th, 2016.
The CNSC will summarize the results of the Inspection in a formal report and provide it to the University in the next few weeks.

A fire occurred yesterday afternoon at the University in a building which is located adjacent to the Research Reactor. The Hamilton Fire Department responded and the fire was quickly extinguished, with no injuries reported. While the fire had no impact on the reactor, it was temporarily shut down as a precautionary measure. Normal operations have resumed on Friday July 8, 2016. There were no safety impacts to the reactor as a result of this situation.

On Wednesday, August 06 2015, McMaster University was informed that a shipment containing medical isotopes had been “lost” by the courier. Medical isotopes are used in the treatment of cancer and are routinely produced at research reactors. The package in question was tracked to a large distribution center in the US operated by the shipping company where it had become lost.
McMaster University has reported the incident to the CNSC and is working with the courier to help locate the package

On Tuesday August 04, 2015, McMaster University was informed that the outer container of a package containing medical isotopes used to treat prostate cancer was found damaged upon arrival at the
airport in France. The medical isotope is securely and safely packaged within 5 separate layers of containment; the final one being the shipping box which was noted to be damaged. French authorities inspected the package and determined that there was no safety impact associated with the incident. The package was placed in an over pack and delivered to the medical device manufacturer later that day. There were no radiological consequences. No activity escaped from the package. Only the cardboard shipping box was damaged. McMaster University has reported the incident to the CNSC and is investigating the cause of the damage.

pdate: Oct. 10/14 3:30 pm

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission has granted its approval for the research reactor to be restarted. The reactor will resume operations on Tues. October 14.

Oct. 10/14 – 11:30 am

McMaster is finalizing its plan to restart its research reactor after temporarily shutting it down Wednesday, Oct. 8th.

An error during a routine refueling prompted an unscheduled shut down.  There were no impacts to the public or the environment, no injuries to workers, and no observed damage to the fuel assembly.  The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission has been notified and has been in communication with the University on its plan to restart the reactor.

A preliminary review has determined that an error occurred during a routine operation involving the fuel assemblies.  The assemblies are submerged under 27 feet of water within the reactor but one was not in a position connected to the reactor’s cooling system during the re-start.

The operator realized the error and immediately shut down the reactor and reported the incident.  No radiation or fission products were released. The reactor was then restarted and operated normally before being shut down for the day as scheduled. Upon further review, the University determined that approval from the CNSC is required for a restart. McMaster will proceed with restarting the reactor once that approval is granted. An application is expected to be submitted to the CNSC today.

Shutting down the reactor and restarting it are daily occurrences. During normal operations, the reactor is shut down every night and restarted each morning.

An internal investigation has begun to determine how the error occurred and to identify steps to ensure similar errors are prevented from happening again. The McMaster  reactor is a teaching and research facility. It does not generate electrical power and in addition to its research mandate is used to produce medical isotopes for the treatment of cancer and other illnesses.