Canadian Nuclear Laboratories NRU documentary coming to Pembroke's Festival Hall

National Research Universal (NRU) reactor at Chalk River, Ont. Photo provided courtesy of Canadian Nuclear Laboratories

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Canada’s national nuclear laboratory to present new film from award-winning Canadian production company exploring legacy of NRU reactor

CHALK RIVER – Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) is pleased to announce that it will present a screening of a new documentary entitled “Of Great Service: The Story of National Research Universal” in Pembroke at Festival Hall on Jan. 17. Produced by SandBay Entertainment, an award-winning Canadian production company, the documentary celebrates and memorializes the contributions of the NRU reactor, through the stories and memories of those who worked within it. Filmed at CNL’s Chalk River Laboratories campus, the film examines the history of the NRU and its role as one of Canada’s most important scientific and research facilities.

“We are thrilled to screen this documentary celebrating the NRU reactor and the people who helped build and operate this marvel in engineering,” commented Mark Lesinski, CNL President and CEO. “NRU has served as a cornerstone of the Canadian nuclear industry for over 60 years, enabling ground-breaking research that has improved the quality of life for people around the world. It is our hope that this film will help to educate and inform people about the amazing work carried out in this facility, right here in Ontario.”

One of the largest research reactors in the world, NRU was a landmark achievement in Canadian nuclear science and technology when it went into service on November 3, 1957 on the banks of the Ottawa River in Chalk River, Ontario. For over 60 years, the reactor served Canadians as a supplier of industrial and medical radioisotopes used for the diagnosis and treatment of life-threatening diseases, as a major Canadian facility for neutron physics research, and to provide engineering research and development support for Canada’s fleet of nuclear power reactors.

NRU was also the workplace of Canadian physicist Dr. Bertram Brockhouse, who won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1994. Using a technique known as ‘neutron scattering’ to explore materials, Dr. Brockhouse invented a new, highly sophisticated neutron instrument known as a triple axis spectrometer, which is now standard equipment at every neutron laboratory throughout the world. For its many achievements, NRU was recognized as a nuclear historic landmark by the American Nuclear Society in 1986.

“Many Canadians are generally aware of the role that NRU played in medical isotopes, and that’s certainly a major part of NRU’s story,” added Lesinski. “But NRU has touched our lives in many, many different ways. From safer and more efficient cars and airplanes, to faster computing, advances in manufacturing, innovation in clean electricity, and the development of the next generation of engineers, physicists and researchers, NRU’s legacy and its impact on our everyday lives is impressive. We hope people who watch this documentary will walk away with a deeper appreciation of the unique research undertaken in this facility and, more importantly, the people who made these accomplishments a reality.”

Looking to the future, the NRU continues to add value to the global nuclear research community. Analyses of materials samples from the reactor and its components, as well as investigations of materials irradiated during the final year of operation, will continue for many years, complementing the unique capabilities of CNL’s recently launched Centre for Reactor Sustainability. The Centre for Reactor Sustainability is one of several new initiatives underway across CNL which apply the unique capabilities and scientific expertise resident within CNL to deliver important contributions in clean energy, safety and security, healthcare and reactor operations.

Tickets are available free of charge via CNL’s website at

The showing will take place at Festival Hall Centre for the Arts in Pembroke on Wednesday, Jan. 16 beginning at 7 p.m.