Ottawa Valley Culture

Chalk River Laboratories

Atomic Energy of Canada Limited’s (AECL) Chalk River Laboratories (CRL) is both a national research facility and an international centre for the production of medical isotopes. CRL has been in operation since 1944 and has housed some of the world's leading researchers in physics and nuclear science.

The facility was built in response to the need for research and development in atomic weaponry for the Second World War and developed the first heavy water coolant system that allowed fission materials to be stabilized in the creation of the atomic weapon. Shortly after the end of the war, the Canadian government made the decision to demilitarize the mandate of the CRL and create the laboratory into a centre of research and development in the field of nuclear science and technology.

For over 60 years, AECL has been a world leader in developing peaceful and innovative applications from nuclear technology through its expertise in physics, metallurgy, chemistry, biology and engineering. Highly skilled employees deliver a range of nuclear services – ranging from research and development, design and engineering, to specialized technology, waste management and decommissioning.

The CRL is one of the most complex laboratories in Canada and welcomes more than 200 visiting professors, students and industrial researchers to its facilities each year to use the sophisticated equipment and laboratories at the facility. Researchers use the NRU reactor and ZED-2 reactor and other laboratories at CRL for materials research and testing.

As Canada's leading nuclear science and technology laboratory, the Chalk River Laboratories currently employs over 2900 people. This facility continues to lead global nuclear research and continues to attract the best and the brightest scientific minds to the Ottawa Valley.