NRG postpones HFR reactor restart

Radiopharmaceutical producer Nuclear Research and Consultancy Group (NRG) on November 30 announced that it has postponed the restart of its High Flux Reactor (HFR) in Petten, the Netherlands, after it discovered an abnormality in the cooling water system of the reactor.

The problem was found as NRG was preparing to start the reactor, which produces the radioisotope molybdenum-99 (Mo-99), following planned maintenance that began on November 11.

NRG conducted a visual inspection as part of its safety analysis and has reported the status of its investigation to authorities. There is no risk to staff or the environment, NRG said.

NRG gave no indication of when the HFR may resume activity, but stated "all efforts are being made to maintain continuity in the production of medical isotopes in an optimal way. NRG expects to be able to provide more information by mid-December."

In the meantime, Mallinckrodt, the pharmaceutical business unit of Covidien, told its customers in a November 30 letter that it expects to meet demand for medical isotopes "in the coming weeks."

Mallinckrodt noted that it has Mo-99 sources in Belgium, Poland, and South Africa, as well as an agreement with medical isotope provider Nordion in Canada.

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