Council formed to support Canadian isotope production

10 April 2018

Canadian science, health care and nuclear sector organisations have launched an initiative aiming to ensure the country remains a world leader in the production of medical isotopes following the final closure of the National Research Universal (NRU) reactor. The Canadian Nuclear Isotope Council (CNIC) aims to raise awareness and support long-term policies at the domestic and international level.

Canada has since 1940 been a global leader in the production of radioisotopes used in medical imaging, cancer therapy, sterilisation and diagnostic development, the council said. NRU, which began operations in 1957, supplied about 40% of the world's molybdenum-99 - the precursor of technetium-99m (Tc-99m), the most widely used isotope in nuclear medicine - as well as being a major neutron physics research facility and providing engineering research and development support for Canada's nuclear power programme.

Founding members of the CNIC

Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada
Bruce Power
Canadian Association of Nuclear Medicine
Canadian Nuclear Association
Canadian Nuclear Laboratories
Centre for Probe Development and Commercialisation
International Irradiation Association
Isotopen Technologien
Laker Energy
NB Power
Ontario Association of Nuclear Medicine
Ontario Power Generation
Organisation of Canadian Nuclear Industries

NRU ceased Mo-99 production in October 2016 since when research reactors in Australia, Europe, Russia and South Africa have met world demand. Canada now risks "falling behind", the CNIC says on its website. "Other countries have made continuing commitments to radioisotopes. With the shutdown of NRU, countries like the United States, Australia, Sweden, and Japan are heavily investing in new, advanced radioisotope production to meet global demand," it notes.

The CNIC, an independent organisation consisting of representatives from various levels within the Canadian health sector, nuclear industry and research bodies, has been convened specifically to advocate for Canada's role in the production of the world's supply of radioisotopes.

"For decades, the world has looked to Canada as a source of health care innovation and a reliable supply of isotopes to diagnose and treat some of the most serious medical conditions, while also supplying critical sterilisation isotopes to keep hospitals and medical facilities clean and safe," said James Scongack, Vice-President of Corporate Affairs and Environment at Bruce Power, a founder member of the CNIC. "Our Council of leaders in health care, energy and academia have come together because we believe this is a critical role people in Canada and around the world are counting on us to play in the years to come," he added.

Canadian radioisotope production currently takes place in nuclear power reactors, research reactors, and particle accelerators such as TRIUMF and the Canadian Light Source.

"For decades, the nuclear industry in Canada has played a crucial role in the healthcare sector globally through the production of life-saving radioisotopes," Kim Rudd, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources, said. "This council will help ensure Canada remains at the forefront of research and innovation in the rapidly advancing field of nuclear medicine."

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News