Press coverage of the Society and its activities

Nuclear Heritage Exhibit Features NRU

Written by
Jim Ungrin
the North Renfrew Times
2022 Mar 30

Despite the complications that Covid-19 restrictions have introduced over the past two years, the collection of artifacts at 51 Poplar, the home of the Society for the Preservation of Canada’s Nuclear Heritage Inc. (SPCNHI), has continued to grow and the Society, which began with a largely-empty building in 2018, is now having to consider which new artifacts it is being offered can be accepted.

The most recent acquisitions of larger-sized artifacts have been ones donated to the Society by CNL and are associated with the NRU reactor. The largest of these is a spare of the exquisitely-engineered tool developed with great urgency at Chalk River to remotely repair leaks in the calandria of NRU in 2009. The tool, however, was just under 14 m in length, essentially the full length of the 51 Poplar building. Discussions with decommissioning engineers at CNL led to a shortening of a central section of the tool to approximately 5.2 m and it was delivered in October 2021.

Accompanying the repair tool were two other units from NRU. Both of these were unused spares that had never been irradiated and were suitable for display. One was a special assembly developed to measure the creep of zirconium under various temperature and neutron flux regimes while the other was an assembly for irradiating pins of uranium/aluminum alloy for the production of Mo-99. Both of these assemblies were developed to fit in fuel rod positions in NRU.

Fitting these units into a display has been a challenge because of their lengths but they are now part of a large display of NRU-related artifacts, photographs and posters near the entrance to the Society collection as seen in the photograph. In addition to the above large items the exhibit contains a number of smaller items including the red “Bat-Phone”, installed, but never actually used, in the NRU control room as a hot-line to the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) in the case of an emergency occurring with the operation of the reactor.

The small volunteer base of the Society precludes the collection being open to the public on a regular basis. Covid restrictions over the past two years have further complicated the situation and caused the cancellation of several scheduled Open House dates. Nevertheless, the Society continues to welcome small groups of people for tours, by appointment. As restrictions ease, it is hoped that we will be able to schedule a number of Open House dates to which we can invite the public to enjoy our collection. Tours of small groups (1-5 persons) can be arranged by contacting the Society via email at or contacting the Artifacts Chair, Jim Ungrin, at 613 584 3055.