Idaho to invest in medical isotope production

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Gov. Jim Risch announced on Dec. 29, 2007, that Idaho will invest $2 million in isotope production capabilities and research at Idaho National Laboratory (INL). The long-term loan comes from Idaho's INL economic development fund and allows Battelle Energy Alliance (BEA) to speed up the installation of isotope production equipment at INL's Advanced Test Reactor (ATR).

"This is a significant investment by the state that has major benefits on several fronts. The equipment will produce isotopes that will be used in lifesaving medical procedures and in other areas, and it will attract medical and research businesses to Idaho," Risch said. "This investment also strengthens INL's research capabilities, which benefits their mission as well as the economy of the surrounding communities."

The funding will be used for the installation of a transfer shuttle irradiation facility, known as a "Rabbit." The equipment will produce medical and other isotopes and allows for research experiments that involve shorter irradiation times than current reactor operations.

"The state of Idaho's investment in Idaho National Laboratory's Advanced Test Reactor will help us improve the capabilities of the ATR to conduct short-term irradiation research, as well as allow the ATR to become an economic and efficient producer of needed medical isotopes," said David Richardson, associate laboratory director for nuclear operations. "This additional capability for the ATR has the potential to bring a vibrant medical isotope industry to southeastern Idaho and enhances the laboratory's important partnership with the state of Idaho."

The first $1 million payment from the state to BEA will occur Jan. 30, with the second payment made later in the year. Under the terms of the loan to BEA, the equipment is to be installed in 2008. Repayment of the loan will begin in 2011 for the first $1 million; the second payment will be made in 2012.

The source of the loan is from the INEEL Settlement Fund, which received $30 million from the U.S. Department of Energy as part of the 1995 court settlement with the state of Idaho.