After 15 Months Hiatus, Nuclear Reactor Produces Isotopes

On Wednesday, Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. said that the first medical isotopes in 15 months have been made at the nuclear reactor in Chalk River, Ont. The Company

The agency said, "AECL reports that it has harvested the first molybdenum-99 isotopes from the National Research Universal reactor and that the reactor is in steady operation".

The medical isotopes like molybdenum-99 are utilized for prognosis of cancer and heart problems.

The reactor, which is 53-year-old was closed in May 2009 by AECL, owing to a heavy water leakage. The glitch was expected to last a month, but it took 15 months to get it fixed.

During this time, physicians and others in the medical community had to look for other options and kinds of medical isotopes. Also, patients’ appointments had to be postponed or suspended during the closure of the reactor.

The reactor is now fully operational, said the agency, on Tuesday.

If the outage wouldn’t have occurred, the reactor would have been able to produce a third of the medical isotopes that were required across the globe.

The Conservative Government said in April that it will look for other methods to produce isotopes without a nuclear reactor, like switching to cyclotrons and linear accelerators. It will splurge $35 million for this.