MDS advocates Maple reactor activation

MDS Nordion of Ottawa is urging the Canadian government and Atomic Energy of Canada (AECL) to consider activating the Maple project to address the current shortage of medical isotopes.

The worldwide shortage of molybdenum-99 was exacerbated last month when the AECL shut down its National Research Universal (NRU) reactor at Chalk River, Ontario, following a water leak.

Preliminary estimates indicate that the 50-year-old facility will be offline for at least three months for repairs. MDS Nordion has requested that the government direct AECL to honor its commitment to replace the NRU by bringing the Maple facilities into service.

MDS and AECL signed a contract in 1996 to build two isotope production reactors and a processing facility that could replace the NRU reactor. The reactors were scheduled to be operational in 2000, with the $145 million cost paid by MDS. The government of Canada and AECL canceled the project in 2008, however, and the two sides are currently involved in litigation over the project.

"The current NRU shutdown and the shutdown of November 2007 illustrate the fragility and unpredictability of the global medical-isotope supply system, and highlights the requirement for new research reactor capacity to deliver a reliable long-term supply of medical isotopes," said Steve West, president of MDS Nordion, in a written statement.

"The solution to the global medical isotope crisis is in Canada," he continued. "The infrastructure is in place, and with the assistance of an international consortium of nuclear experts, the Maple facilities could be producing medical isotopes to the benefit of patients worldwide."

Related Reading

AECL reactor down 'at least three months,' May 29, 2009

MDS Nordion opens new FDG facility in Belgium, May 28, 2009

AECL ponders Chalk River repairs, May 26, 2009

Hospitals brace for shortage of medical isotopes, May 22, 2009

Reimbursement, molybdenum-99 shortage top SNM agenda, May 22, 2009

Copyright © 2009

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