The Cross-Border Biotech Blog

Biotechnology, Health and Business in Canada, the United States and Worldwide

Medical Isotope Shortage Looms as Canada’s Chalk River Reactor Shuts Down

683px-Schematicky_atomAccording to a CBC News report today, Canada’s Chalk River nuclear reactor was shut down for a power outage last Thursday, and Friday inspectors noticed a heavy water leak at the base of the reactor.  The month-long shut down that will be needed for repairs means that only one reactor in the world, the HSR reactor in the Netherlands, will be producing medical isotopes.  The Netherlands reactor can only service about one-third of global demand, and much of its output is committed outside of North America under existing supply contracts.

Because the isotopes have a short half-life, they cannot be stockpiled and the shortage will begin to affect diagnostic capacity by this weekend.  Reactors in Belgium, France and South Africa are currently shut down as well.

A long-term solution may be available, if a joint effort by Canada’s TRIUMF accelerator lab and Ottawa-based medical isotope supplier MDS Nordion succeeds in trying to make the primary isotope (molybdenum–99) in a linear accelerator instead of in nuclear reactors. However, construction on the project doesn’t start until next year, and the first tests would not be until 2013.

An apparently similar effort is underway in a recently-announced collaboration between an Idaho company and Idaho State University.

Bookmark and Share

About these ads

3 responses to “Medical Isotope Shortage Looms as Canada’s Chalk River Reactor Shuts Down

  1. Pingback: Chalk River medical nuclear reactor — Keynesian failure | ThePolitic.com

  2. Pingback: Chalk River Reactor Isotope Shortage Gets Timing Update, International Attention, Local Solution « The Cross-Border Biotech Blog

  3. Pingback: Bill for U.S. Domestic Production of Medical Isotopes Passed by House of Representatives « The Cross-Border Biotech Blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 130 other followers