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Canadian Isotope Reactor to Be Shuttered Until Next Year

by Lynn Shapiro, Writer | August 14, 2009

Meanwhile, AECL continues to pursue a second mechanical repair technique, in order to address conditions not conducive to band weld repair. "Both techniques are being advanced simultaneously to provide assurance that the appropriate repair technique is available when needed," the agency says.

AECL notes that "guidance on the duration of the shutdown continues to be founded on the best evidence available, including the most up-to-date analysis of the inspection data, progress on repair strategies, and critical path requirements for restart after an extended shutdown. At this time, the application of the band weld build-up technique, and the increased number of sites, indicates the NRU will return to service during the first quarter of 2010. Further guidance on a return to service date will be provided when more data is available," AECL says.

The agency concludes that "there is no threat to workers, the public, the environment or nuclear safety related to this event." More information on the repair and status updates on the NRU is available at http://www.nrucanada.ca.

Lantheus Scrambles to Find Suppliers

Responding to the extended shutdown of its major supplier, Lantheus Medical Imaging's President and CEO, Don Kiepert, said on Friday that the company "continues to collaborate with its supply partners and key customers to address the ongoing global isotope shortage of molybdenum-99 (Mo-99), the parent isotope of technetium-99m (Tc-99m), as a result of the prolonged NRU reactor shutdown in Canada and the current shutdown of the High Flux Reactor (HFR) in the Netherlands [expected to be reopened this month].

"Recently, the company announced new Mo-99 supply agreements with NTP Radioisotopes (Pty) Ltd., a subsidiary of the Nuclear Energy Corporation of South Africa (NECSA), the National Institute for Radioelements (IRE), Belgium, and the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) as a supplier for low-enriched uranium (LEU) Mo-99 in the North America, to manufacture and supply us with an ongoing volume of Mo-99. These agreements demonstrate our continued commitment to investing in a supply chain diversification strategy to address the limited and fragile global Mo-99 supply chain," Kiepert says.

Meanwhile, Lantheus says it has significantly increased production of Thallium 201 in its cyclotrons on site which are operating at full capacity to meet the demand for this alternate cardiac imaging agent during the Mo-99 shortage.

"As part of our commitment," Kiepert says, "we have recently endorsed the American Medical Isotopes Production Act sponsored by Representatives Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee Subcommittee on Energy and the Environment, and Fred Upton (R-Mich.), the ranking member of the Subcommittee, which seeks to ensure that a reliable supply of critical medical isotopes is produced in the United States as soon as possible," Kiepert says.