Hospitals should expect first Dutch isotope shipment by mid-September

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High Flux Reactor in Petten, the Netherlands. Image source: NRG.

The High Flux Reactor (HFR) in Petten, the Netherlands is back online after repairs were completed on its cooling water pipe. Hospitals can expect to receive the first isotopes by mid-September, said the Nuclear Research and Consultancy Group (NRG), operator of the HFR.

The nuclear facilities at Petten supply 60 percent of the European and 30 percent of the global demand for medical isotopes and around 24,000 patients are treated with isotopes produced in Petten every day.

In August 2008, a jet of gas bubbles was discovered in the primary cooling water system during a standard inspection and the cause was identified as galvanic corrosion. Although there was absolutely no leakage of cooling water, the NRG took the reactor out of service on Feb. 19 so that localized repairs could be made.

NRG is also planning to build the Pallas reactor to replace the HFR.

Fred Verzijlbergen, MD, chairman of the Dutch Association for Nuclear Medicine said, “Because the two largest isotope producers in the world [HFR in the Netherlands and National Reserach Universal reactor in Canada] were both out of action for repairs for quite some time, the medical world has had to cope with serious shortages of isotopes and long waiting lists for patients. I’m happy and relieved that this difficult period has come to an end and that we can now focus on working hard to develop new production capacity. We urgently need the new Pallas reactor in Petten to prevent a repeat of this difficult situation in the future.”

No safety incidents occurred during the repairs and the radiation dose level for all internal and external employees remained well below the planned limit, added NRG.