NTP execs return to work after inquiry

By AuntMinnie.com staff writers

July 12, 2018 -- Three senior executives at South African radioisotope firm NTP Radioisotopes are back on the job after the completion of a government inquiry into a breach of safety regulations at the firm's radiochemicals complex last year.

According to a July 10 report in Business Day, NTP parent company South African Nuclear Energy was ordered by South Africa's National Nuclear Regulator to cease production of molybdenum-99 (Mo-99) in November 2017 after NTP's hydrogen monitoring systems failed. It took three days for NTP to report the incident, which occurred in October, thus violating safety procedures, according to the agency.

On July 9, NTP announced that Tina Eboka, group managing director; Gavin Ball, group executive for strategic operations; and Gerhard Wortmann, group executive for compliance, were no longer on special leave. A fourth person, Benji Steynberg, executive manager for waste and maintenance, took an early retirement, according to the article.

NTP's board is reviewing the company's organizational structure to improve safety management and ensure compliance with regulatory requirements, Business Day reported.

NTP's nuclear reactor produces as much as one-third of the global supply of Mo-99, the precursor to technetium-99m, which is widely used in nuclear medicine studies. The reactor shutdown is particularly concerning given the halt in Mo-99 production late last month at a nuclear reactor in Australia. NTP would usually provide backup supplies to Australia in such a case, but given the reactor woes in South Africa, the Australians have had to import Mo-99 from the U.S.

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