Australian reactor to begin producing Tc-99m following shutdown

Production of technetium-99m (Tc-99m) is expected to resume this week at the Australian generator that was forced to shut down in June, according to the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organization (ANSTO).

The organization announced on Wednesday, Aug. 3, that the mechanical issue with a conveyor belt in the generator at Lucas Heights in South Wales, south of Sydney, had been fixed. Operations were scheduled to resume the week of Aug. 6.

Tc-99m is a commonly used radioisotope for nuclear medicine methods and is often used to diagnose a variety of musculoskeletal conditions. This reactor is the sole source of the radioisotope in Australia, which typically produces nearly 10,000 doses of Tc-99m per week. Areas throughout the Asia-Pacific region also depend on its supply.

Since the reactor's shutdown, Australia has been receiving shipments of the product from the U.S., but those shipments have had intermittent delays.

According to ANSTO, equipment checks are being completed and quality control tests are being finalized.

“This nuclear medicine is a critical part of the Australian health landscape, enabling up to 10,000 diagnoses a week, and if anything, this experience has very much highlighted the value of our domestic supplies,” an ANSTO press release read.