Canada NRU reactor reopens with limited radioisotope supply

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Image Source: Canadian Nuclear Association

Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL) reported that the National Research Universal (NRU) reactor at Chalk River Laboratories in Ontario, Canada, was safely returned to service this week, following an unscheduled maintenance to extract medical isotope rods from the reactor.

Production of medical isotopes continued throughout the unscheduled outage; however, production yields will be at a reduced level for the next four days.

AECL estimated that the supply of medical isotopes to be delivered to MDS Nordion this week will be approximately 2,500 curies. The Chalk River facility supplies rods of molybdenum-99 to MDS Nordion, a Kanata, Canada-based company who processes the material and supplies isotopes to radiopharmaceutical manufacturers.

MDS Nordion anticipates an approximate 50 percent shortage of medical isotopes from the NRU reactor this week, Shelley Maclean, manager of external communications for MDS Nordion, told the Calgary Herald.

The 52-year-old NRU reactor produces about half of the world's medical isotope supply. A prolonged shutdown due to safety concerns in 2007 created an international isotope shortage