Tuesday, August 18, 2009

McMaster University offers for the umpteenth time to help produce isotopes

McMaster makes its offer to ramp up its nuclear reactor once again to help with the isotope shortage. But is anyone listening?
When the isotope crisis hit, McMaster's reactor automatically ramped up production by 20 per cent of I-125, and offered to retrofit its facility to handle the production of molybdenum-99 (or moly-99, as it is more popularly known). This would enable our reactor to produce four times Canada's entire moly-99 requirement.
McMaster wants to be a part of the Canadian solution; it's willing and certainly able. Ramping up the McMaster Nuclear Reactor to produce moly-99 would utilize a facility with proven technology. It would require a modest investment and relatively little startup time. It would reassert Canada's position as a leader in nuclear research and nuclear medicine. And it would save lives and bring peace of mind to countless numbers of cancer and heart patients in Canada and around the world.
As we know, McMaster's offer to convert its reactor to produce the isotopes that Chalk River does was made for the first time in January 2008.
McMaster University expressed regret at how long the government waited to look at longer-term solutions to the supply of medical isotopes. The university approached the government about an isotope plan in January 2008 but has since had to reformat and resubmit its proposal to be considered by the expert advisory panel.
If the offer had been accepted by the government then, McMaster would likely be producing isotopes for the Canadian (and world) market by now. This is because the time frame for getting McMaster up and running is said to be about 18 months and it would take about $30 million.

But that would require a government interested in solving the problem.

For more on this topic, see: Blog Post Index: Medical Isotope crisis & Chalk River shutdown.