by Brendon Nafziger
, DOTmed News Associate Editor | July 07, 2010
Welding repairs for the High Flux Reactor wrapped up last month, the Nuclear Research and consultancy Group said in an email Tuesday, as the reactor remains on schedule for its August re-start.
The reactor, located in Petten, Netherlands, is one of the largest producers of molybdenum-99, the parent isotope of technetium-99, critical for many nuclear medicine studies.
The Dutch reactor has been offline since February to fix pipework damaged by corrosion. Crews discovered the damage when they noticed bubbles during routine inspections almost two years ago.
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To undertake the often tricky repairs, welders had to work in tight spaces, replacing the four corroded spots on the aluminum cooling pipes.
"It was an intense period. We are relieved that everything went well," John Verbruggen, mechanical engineering sub-project manager, said in a statement.
Repair teams must now tackle the concrete shielding phase, the NRG said, pumping in the liquid, self-compacting concrete shell from the bottom up into special formwork.
The reactor's shutdown has helped disrupt the world's supply of Mo-99, as the other main supplier, the National Research Universal Reactor in Chalk River, Ontario, has also been offline for months of repairs.
The NRU Reactor's repairs finished last month, and Atomic Energy Canada Limited, which runs the plant, is awaiting approval from Canada's nuclear regulatory commission. A hearing on the re-start was held Monday.