In mid-May 2009 the heavy water leak at the base of the NRU reactor vessel, first detected in 2008 (see above), returned at a greater rate and prompted another temporary shutdown that lasted until August 2010. The lengthy shutdown was necessary to first completely defuel the entire reactor, then ascertain the full extent of the corrosion to the vessel, and finally to effect the repairs — all with remote and restricted access from a minimum distance of 8 metres due to the residual radioactive fields in the reactor vessel. The 2009 shutdown occurred at a time when only one of the other four worldwide regular medical isotope sourcing reactors was producing, resulting in a worldwide shortage. [ citation needed ]
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More than 200 years ago, James Madison wrote that consolidating power in the hands of a single leader “may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.” Thomas Jefferson asserted that the only way to avoid such tyranny was to elect a leader and then “bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.” They and the other Founders took pains to assure that no president would ever be able to order arbitrary arrests, unfair trials, or suppression of public liberty. If they could have imagined the power of nuclear weapons, they certainly would have taken a comparable precaution. Giving one individual the power to set off nuclear war would have been abhorrent to the framers of our Constitution. Limiting that power would honor their memory while increasing the odds for humanity’s survival.