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

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...
TriHealth in Cincinnati

TriHealth in Cincinnati.

Sponsored Content | Case Study | Contrast Media Injectors | March 06, 2018
The continuing search for advantages to improve workflow has radiology departments constantly searching for new...
Guerbet Presents Contrast&Care Injection Management Solution at ECR 2018
News | Contrast Media | February 28, 2018
February 28, 2018 — Guerbet will present its new Contrast&Care application, as well as other...
A brain MRI. Gadolinium contrast agents (GBCAs) are partly retained in the brain, raising safety concerns. Gadolinium deposition in the brain has raised concerns about Gadolinium toxicity.

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

Feature | Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) | February 16, 2018 | Dave Fornell
One of the biggest concerns in radiology in recent years is the safety of gadolinium-based contrast agents (GBCAs) us
ACR Introduces New Contrast Reaction Card
News | Contrast Media | February 07, 2018
The American College of Radiology (ACR) introduced a new contrast reaction card that summarizes important steps to be...
Bracco Diagnostics' MultiHance Contrast Agent Earns Expanded Approval for Pediatric MRI
News | Contrast Media | January 30, 2018
Bracco Diagnostics Inc. announced the labeling of its contrast agent MultiHance has obtained U.S. Food and Drug...
Study Finds No Evidence that Gadolinium Causes Neurologic Harm

MR images through, A, C, E, basal ganglia and, B, D, F, posterior fossa at level of dentate nucleus. Images are shown for, A, B, control group patient 4, and the, C, D, first and, E, F, last examinations performed in contrast group patient 13. Regions of interest used in quantification of signal intensity are shown as dashed lines for globus pallidus (green), thalamus (blue), dentate nucleus (yellow), and pons (red).

News | Contrast Media | January 11, 2018
January 11, 2018 — There is no evidence that accumulation in the brain of the element gadolinium speeds cognitive dec
Overlay Init