TORONTO – October 19, 2020 – Last week the strength of Canadian companies in the medical isotopes sector took another leap forward as Ontario Power Generation (OPG), its subsidiary Laurentis Energy Partners (Laurentis), BWXT ITG Canada Inc. and its affiliates (BWXT) announced significant progress toward the production of molybdenum-99 (Mo-99) at OPG’s Darlington Nuclear Generating Station.
In 2018 a new collaboration between OPG’s wholly-owned subsidiary, Canadian Nuclear Partners, and BWX Technologies was signed to enable Molybdenum-99 harvested from reactors at Darlington beginning as early as 2021. Under this important supply agreement, the station will provide irradiation services to produce the isotope, which is used in over 30 million diagnostic and medical imaging treatments around the world each year, helping to detect illnesses like cancer and heart disease.
Over the last couple of years, a team of more than 100 personnel at BWXT and Laurentis designed specialized tooling at BWXT’s facility in Peterborough to enable the production of Mo-99 at Darlington. The tooling will deliver the molybdenum into the Darlington reactor for irradiation, which will enable Darlington to become the first commercial operating nuclear reactor to produce Mo-99.
“This advanced equipment is an example of how Laurentis is maximizing decades of experience within the nuclear industry for the delivery of innovative solutions,” said Dominique Minière, President of Laurentis Energy Partners. “These milestones represent a considerable step forward in the implementation of this industry-leading technology.”
A report released by the CNIC in September highlighted the need for strong Canadian leadership to ensure a domestic and international supply of medical isotopes. Medical isotopes are critical to global health care, particularly for diagnostic purposes in oncology; cardiology and neurology.
“Canadian leadership is fundamental to ensuring the world has a reliable, stable supply of critical isotopes used every day in modern health care. The production of moly-99 at OPG’s Darlington facility will make it the first commercial operating nuclear reactor to produce this isotope, truly demonstrating the ingenuity and expertise of our Canadian nuclear industry, said James Scongack chair of the Canadian Nuclear Isotope Council.
“Over the last 10 years, there has been a reduction in the accessibility of radioisotopes and this supply issue has only been exacerbated with the onset of COVID,” said Jean Nash, Clinical Manager, Molecular Imaging, and University Health Network. “A new, reliable supply will allow for more stable access to medical isotopes and support hospitals and clinicians in Ontario, Canada and beyond to provide better patient care.”
Because of the unique design of Darlington’s CANDU reactors, medical isotopes can be removed while the reactor is still online without interrupting the station’s generation of clean energy. Once harvested, BWXT will utilize its newly designed, proprietary generators, called NeuCap1, to process the Molybdenum-99 into Technetium-99m, the final product that will be used in diagnostic imaging.
“We are leveraging BWXT’s broad capabilities to design, manufacture, install and service reactor technology in order to support the launch of this innovative solution in partnership with Laurentis,” said John MacQuarrie, President of BWXT Canada Ltd. “Together, we have made tremendous progress towards the production of this crucial medical isotope that is used in more than 80 per cent of all nuclear medicine procedures.”
Since the shutdown of Canada’s National Research Universal reactor in March, North America no longer has a domestic supply of Molybdenum-99, which has left hospitals to rely on imports from Europe, Africa and Australia.
This progress is critical because when complete the Darlington reactor will be capable of producing enough Molybdenum-99 to supply the current and future North American demand for this important diagnostic imaging radioisotope.
About The Canadian Nuclear Isotope Council
The CNIC is a coalition of science, health care and nuclear sector organizations to ensure Canada remains a world leader in the production of life-saving isotopes by bringing awareness and supporting long-term policies at the domestic and international level that will save countless lives and support health-care innovation for decades to come. To learn more about the CNIC visit www.CanadianIsotopes.ca and follow us on, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
About BWXT Canada Ltd.
BWXT Canada Ltd. (BWXT Canada) has over 60 years of expertise and experience in the design, manufacturing, commissioning and service of nuclear power generation equipment. This includes steam generators, nuclear fuel and fuel components, critical plant components, parts and related plant services. BWXT Canada’s sister company, BWXT ITG Canada, Inc. (BWXT ITG) provides its customers, who conduct life-saving medical procedures for patients around the world, the benefit of decades of experience in the development, manufacturing, packaging and delivery of medical isotopes and radiopharmaceuticals. Headquartered in Cambridge, Ontario, BWXT in Canada has approximately 1,500 employees at locations in Cambridge, Dundas, Peterborough, Toronto, Arnprior, Pickering, Port Elgin, Owen Sound, Kanata and Oakville, Ontario, and Vancouver, British Columbia. BWXT Canada is a subsidiary of BWX Technologies, Inc. (NYSE: BWXT). Follow us on Twitter @BWXTech and learn more at www.bwxt.com.
About Laurentis Energy Partners
Laurentis Energy Partners a wholly owned subsidiary of Ontario Power Generation formed in 2012. Laurentis is an industry leading provider of inspection, maintenance, engineering, and project management services for the nuclear, and hydroelectric power generation industries. Laurentis services its base of international clients from offices in Toronto, Ontario; Pickering, Ontario; Tiverton, Ontario; Saint John, New Brunswick and Bucharest, Romania.
OPG is a climate change leader and the largest clean energy electricity generator in the province, providing almost half of the power Ontarians rely on every day. It is also one of the most diverse generators in North America, with expertise in nuclear, hydroelectric, biomass, solar and natural gas technologies.
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For more information, please contact:
Strategist, Government and Stakeholder Relations – Corporate Affairs
Canadian Nuclear Isotope Council