One of the most prevalently used diagnostic imaging agents in nuclear medicine, helping to detect illnesses like cancer and heart disease
Clarington, Ontario – A new program, led by Laurentis Energy Partners and BWXT Medical Ltd. (BWXT Medical), to produce the medical isotope Molybdenum-99 for the first time ever in a power reactor, has gained momentum, receiving regulatory approval of the necessary licence from the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC).
The CNSC approved an amendment to the operating licence for the Darlington Nuclear Generating Station, owned and operated by Laurentis’s parent company, Ontario Power Generation (OPG).
Molybdenum-99 (Mo-99) is a much-needed medical isotope used in over 40 million procedures each year, helping to detect illnesses like cancer and heart disease and diagnose various medical conditions.
Mo-99 decays to technetium-99 metastable (Tc-99m), one of the most prevalently used diagnostic imaging agents in nuclear medicine. As such, Mo-99 is an essential radionuclide in the nuclear medicine supply chain.
On behalf of BWXT Medical, Laurentis will oversee this project at OPG’s Darlington Nuclear Generating Station. When the production system is operational, BWXT’s Peterborough operations will manufacture and deliver the molybdenum components to Darlington, OPG staff will operate the irradiation system, and BWXT Medical will process the Mo-99 and integrate it into Tc-99m generators for distribution throughout North America.
In 2018, OPG submitted the request to the CNSC to amend the licence, to allow OPG to possess, transfer, produce, package, manage, and store Mo-99 and its associated decay products at Darlington.
“Being granted the licence amendment is a tremendous achievement for the project”, said Jason Van Wart, Vice President of Laurentis Energy Partners. “These milestones represent a considerable step forward in the implementation of the team’s industry-leading technology, helping to save lives both in Canada and internationally.”
BWXT has built a fabrication facility at its location in Peterborough, Ontario, to produce Mo-99 components that will be delivered by specialized tooling, which will be installed at Darlington. The tooling will deliver the molybdenum into the Darlington reactor for irradiation, enabling Darlington to become the first commercial operating nuclear reactor to produce Mo-99. Once irradiated and extracted from the Darlington reactor and, pending regulatory approvals, BWXT Medical will process the Mo-99 using its proprietary technology to supply its patent-pending Tc-99m generators.
“We are leveraging our broad capabilities to design, manufacture, install and service reactor technology in order to support the launch of BWXT’s innovative solution in partnership with Laurentis,” said John MacQuarrie, President of BWXT’s Nuclear Power Group. “We are now one step closer to producing this crucial medical isotope, for the first time ever in a power reactor, that will be used in more than 80 per cent of all nuclear medicine procedures. Further, as we are using CANDU reactor technology, Laurentis and OPG will be able to produce a steady supply of Mo-99 for BWXT Medical while powering the province with clean energy.”
Darlington Nuclear will be the only commercial power reactor source of Molybdenum-99 in North America, ensuring a stable domestic supply of this critical product.
“Because of the unique design of Darlington’s CANDU reactors, medical isotopes can be removed while the reactor is still online, and without interrupting the station’s generation of clean energy,” said Steve Gregoris, OPG’s Senior Vice President at Darlington. “Installation of the system will occur at Darlington’s Unit 2 in 2022. In collaboration with Laurentis and BWXT, we will harvest this critical isotope, while continuing to supply safe and clean electricity to the people of Ontario.”
About Laurentis Energy Partners
Laurentis Energy Partners, a subsidiary of Ontario Power Generation, provides solutions for customers across the energy spectrum: from nuclear, hydro and solar generation, to the advancement of new technologies such as small modular reactors, and production of medical isotopes. Laurentis has offices in the Greater Toronto Area, Hamilton and Bruce County in Ontario, Saint John in New Brunswick, and Bucharest in Romania.
At BWX Technologies, Inc. (NYSE: BWXT), we are People Strong, Innovation Driven. Headquartered in Lynchburg, Va., BWXT is a Fortune 1000 and Defense News Top 100 manufacturing and engineering innovator that provides safe and effective nuclear solutions for global security, clean energy, environmental remediation, nuclear medicine and space exploration. With approximately 6,700 employees, BWXT has 12 major operating sites in the U.S. and Canada. In addition, BWXT joint ventures provide management and operations at more than a dozen U.S. Department of Energy and NASA facilities.
About Ontario Power Generation (OPG)
As a global climate-change leader and the largest, most diverse electricity generator in the province of Ontario, OPG is helping to lead Canada’s charge to a post-carbon economy.
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Laurentis Energy Partners