By Rod Nickel
Feb 5 (Reuters) - Canada's regulator for the nuclear industry said on Wednesday that it has asked Cameco Corp to idle one of its Port Hope uranium conversion plants, part of one of the western world's few such facilities, after an unscheduled shutdown last week.
The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission told Cameco not to return the Ontario facility to operation until the commission is satisfied with corrective measures.
Cameco said the plant shut down on Jan. 28 a critical process for the conversion of uranium into uranium hexafluoride, commonly known as UF6. The shutdown was due to a potentially unsafe valve configuration, the commission said.
Its inspectors on site confirmed that employees were not exposed to harmful chemicals and there was no release to the environment.
Cameco spokesman Gord Struthers said the company was not expecting a prolonged shutdown of the UF6 facility, and planned to make up any lost production.
Port Hope is one of four commercial uranium conversion plants in the western world. Cameco exports UF6 to be enriched and used in nuclear reactors, mainly in the United States and Europe, Struthers said.
Shares of Cameco dropped 0.8 percent in Toronto to C$22.50 by mid-afternoon.