* AECL liability rises by C$2.4 bln to C$6 bln
* Will be booked in fiscal year ending March 31
* Liability reflects nuclear decommissioning, waste
OTTAWA, March 20 The Canadian budget gap for the
current fiscal year will be C$2.4 billion ($2.3 billion) higher
than expected because of higher liability estimated by Atomic
Energy of Canada Ltd (AECL) reflecting indirect costs of its
Chalk River research reactor.
The nuclear agency issued a statement late on Tuesday to say
it was raising the estimate of its liability for nuclear
decommissioning and waste management by two-thirds to about C$6
billion from C$3.6 billion.
The government had estimated in November that the deficit
for the fiscal year that ends March 31 would be C$26 billion.
The gap for April to December was only C$16.1 billion, leading
at one time to the expectation that the full-year figure would
come in less than the C$26 billion forecast.
But this will now be more difficult in light of the added
AECL liability, which an unnamed government official said would
be a one-time cost for the current fiscal year.
The reactor in Chalk River, Ontario, is Canada's sole source
for isotopes used in medical imaging. Production was shut down
for safety reasons in 2007 and then again from May 2009 to
August 2010. The closures caused a medical challenge and a
political furor as the government scrambled to find isotope
replacements internationally. The reactor is licensed to run
Last month, Canada said it expected to be able to make
enough medical isotopes through non-nuclear methods by 2016 to
replace those now produced by the reactor.