Saturday, 16 June 2012

New U.S. anti-terrorism measure could hurt Canadian isotope maker

New U.S. anti-terrorism measure could hurt Canadian isotope maker: ..."“The United States is committed to eliminating the use of HEU in all civilian applications, including in the production of medical radioisotopes, because of its direct significance for potential use in nuclear weapons, acts of nuclear terrorism, or other malevolent purposes,” said a White House statement.
Details on what countries will be targeted by the HEU export reductions have not been released. The U.S. has no domestic producers of medical isotopes.
Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. has long relied on shipments of U.S. HEU to produce molybdenum-99 (Mo-99) and its daughter isotope technetium-99 inside the NRU research reactor at AECL’s Chalk River nuclear labs, northwest of Ottawa. Technetium-99 is the most widely used medical isotope in the world.
The raw isotopes are transported to Kanata’s Nordion Inc., which refines and purifies the radioactive materials, then ships them to medical facilities and practitioners around the world.
AECL issued a statement Tuesday saying it “continues to co-operate with the U.S. efforts to manage the use of HEU for the production of medical isotopes, mindful of the non-proliferation considerations.”
In a separate statement, Nordion said it actively supports non-proliferation efforts, including conversion of isotope production facilities from HEU to LEU.
Experts have rejected the expensive notion of converting the 55-year-old Chalk River reactor to handle LEU, especially since the federal government has announce its closure in 2016, when the current operating licence expires."
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