News | December 26, 2007

Canada Reactor Back in Business

December 27, 2007 - After a longer-than-expected maintenance shutdown, production of radioisotopes for molecular imaging and targeted therapy is back online at the National Research Universal (NRU) reactor in Chalk River, Ontario. The reactor was returned to service following direct intervention by the Canadian government, which in effect over-ruled the safety concerns of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC).

The NRU entered a regularly scheduled maintenance shutdown on Nov. 18 (see A break in the supply chain on medicalphysicsweb). That shutdown resulted in an interruption in the supply of molybdenum-99 (Mo-99), a fission by-product that's used to make technetium-99m (Tc-99m) and iodine-131 (I-131). Tc-99m and I-131 are the predominant radionuclides used in diagnostic and therapeutic nuclear-medicine studies.

In early December, however, things started to get messy. Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL), the government-owned company which runs the NRU reactor, announced an extension of the outage till early/mid-January to allow "modifications required for the installation of two new motor starters for the reactor cooling pump, and to connect the motors to an additional back-up power supply".

That announcement came against an already grim clinical backdrop, with thousands of seriously ill patients in North America facing delays to diagnostic procedures as a result of the disruption to isotope supply lines.

On Dec. 11, in response to concerns from the medical community, the Canadian parliament agreed a bill that temporarily suspended (for 120 days) the CNSC's oversight role, thus allowing the NRU to start up again even though it still did not fully meet safety standards.

The reactor was safely returned to service on Dec.16, which means that medical isotopes will by now be ready for removal, processing and distribution. In the coming weeks, AECL will complete the maintenance work during normal reactor operations.

The next time the NRU needs to be shut down for maintenance the AECL is likely to be better prepared. The agency has built two new reactors, MAPLE 1 and MAPLE 2, for exclusive production of medical isotopes. Originally scheduled to go online in 2004, they are now due to start up in October 2008 and October 2009, respectively.

• MDS Nordion (Ottawa, Canada), a leading supplier of medical isotopes, had reckoned it would take an $8-9 million earnings hit in its current quarter as a result of the NRU outage. With the reactor back online, however, the company anticipates less of a financial impact than previously estimated.

Source: Joe McEntee is editor of medicalphysicsweb. Additional reporting by physicsworld.com.

For more information: www.aecl.ca

Related Content

Voyageur Minerals to Begin Manufacturing Barium Contrast Products With Chief Medical Supply
News | Contrast Media | November 14, 2018
Voyageur Minerals Ltd. signed a joint venture agreement with Chief Medical Supply Ltd (CM) of Calgary, Alberta to...
Osprey Medical and GE Healthcare Launch Acute Kidney Injury Educational Program
News | Angiography | September 25, 2018
September 21, 2018 — Osprey Medical announced a collaboration with GE Healthcare on Osprey’s Be Kind to Kidneys campa
Gadolinium contrast agents (GBCAs) are partly retained in the brain, raising safety concerns, as seen in this MRI.

Gadolinium contrast agents (GBCAs) are partly retained in the brain, raising safety concerns, as seen in this MRI.

News | Contrast Media | September 12, 2018
In February 2018, a workshop was held at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland, to explore co
Scientists Develop New MRI Tool for Cancer Diagnosis and Therapy

Researchers in the laboratory ‘Biomedical Nanomaterials’ of NUST MISIS. Image courtesy of PR Newsfoto/NUST MISIS.

News | Oncology Diagnostics | August 24, 2018
A European research group has developed a system that allows doctors to both improve the accuracy of diagnosing...
Iron Outperforms Gadolinium as MRI Contrast Agent

Scientists at Rice's Laboratory for Nanophotonics added iron chelates (blue) and fluorescent dye (red) to multi-layered gold nanomatryoshkas to create particles that can be used for disease therapy and diagnostics. The "theranostic" nanoparticles have a core of gold (left) that is covered by silica containing the diagnostic iron and dye, which is covered by an outer shell of gold. The particles are about 20 times smaller than a red blood cell, and by varying the thickness of the layers, LANP scientists can tune the nanomatryoshkas to convert light into cancer-killing heat. (Image courtesy of Luke Henderson/Rice University)

News | Contrast Media | August 22, 2018
Rice University nanoscientists have demonstrated a method for loading iron inside nanoparticles to create magnetic...
Guerbet Partners With Imalogix on Dose Optimization With Artificial Intelligence
News | Radiation Dose Management | August 14, 2018
August 14, 2018 — Guerbet LLC USA announced a commercial partnership with Imalogix, a provider of...
Videos | Contrast Media | August 03, 2018
Lawrence Tanenbaum, M.D., FACR, vice president and director of advanced imaging at RadNet, discusses the latest resea
Guerbet, IBM Watson Health Partner on Artificial Intelligence for Liver Imaging
News | Clinical Decision Support | July 10, 2018
Guerbet announced it has signed an exclusive joint development agreement with IBM Watson Health to develop an...
Imaging agent helps predict success of lung cancer therapy
News | Oncology Diagnostics | March 08, 2018
March 8, 2018 – Doctors contemplating the best therapy for...
OptiStar Elite injector
Feature | Contrast Media Injectors | March 07, 2018 | Grand View Research Inc.
The global contrast media injectors market is expected to reach $1.4 billion by 2025, growing at a compound annual...