June 26, 2015 / 1:50 PM / in 5 years

Canada picks engineering group to operate nuclear labs

WINNIPEG, Manitoba (Reuters) - Canada has selected a group of engineering and management firms, including SNC-Lavalin Group Inc, to operate a government-owned nuclear laboratory that is one the world’s biggest sources of medical isotopes.

Natural Resources Minister Greg Rickford said on Friday that the government picked the group, called Canadian National Energy Alliance, after a bidding process. It will operate Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL), which is part of government-owned Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd (AECL).

Ottawa said in 2013 that it wanted to find a private operator to run the largest CNL site at Chalk River, Ontario. Chalk River includes a problem-plagued nuclear reactor that is currently Canada’s only source of medical isotopes and produces a large portion of the world’s supply.

The reactor is set to cease production in 2018 and Canada is funding research into alternative, commercial supplies of medical isotopes.

The selected group also includes Rolls-Royce Civil Nuclear Canada Ltd, CH2M HILL Canada Ltd, Fluor Government Group–Canada, Inc, and EnergySolutions Canada Group Ltd.

The government sold the AECL division that produces Candu nuclear power plants to Montreal-based SNC-Lavalin in 2011 for C$15 million ($12 million).

Reporting by Rod Nickel in Winnipeg, Manitoba; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama; and Peter Galloway

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