Friday, 1 March 2013

Ottawa's new isotope production plan raises fears of more shortages

Ottawa's new isotope production plan raises fears of more shortages: What the government has decided is actually against their own Expert Panel who advised to build a new multii-purpose research reactor to replace the aging NRU reactor: "The federal government is plowing ahead with its plan to revamp Canada’s production system of medically critical isotopes, raising concerns the country could face another scramble for medical imaging services if the new system does not perform as expected.
Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver announced Thursday that Ottawa will provide $25-million to three different groups to support development of medical isotope technology that, by 2016, can replace production from the aged nuclear reactor in Chalk River, Ont. Two emergency shutdowns of the Chalk River reactor five years ago provoked a medical and political furor when physicians were forced to delay diagnostic tests for cancer and heart disease." ...In making the announcement, Mr. Oliver said the federal investment will allow Canada to remain a leader in the production of medical isotopes, without relying on a reactor fuelled by high-enriched uranium, which is weapons-grade nuclear material. The minister also announced Ottawa is launching a competitive bidding process for private-sector operators of the AECL Chalk River laboratories, where the isotope-producing research reactor is located.
While the federal government intends to get out of the isotope business, it will continue to own the laboratories, which will focus research on decommissioning nuclear sites, supporting the government’s scientific needs, and supporting the industry’s research requirements on a fee-for-service basis."

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