Japan discusses radioisotope shortage

21 July 2009

The question of how to secure a steady supply of molybdenum-99 (Mo-99) and technetium-99 (Tc-99m) was the main theme of Japan Radioisotope Association's annual meeting, held from 1-3 July in Tokyo.

During panel discussions on the first day various experts, specialists and others vigorously debated the issue according to reports by JAIF. The supply of the substance remains unstable due to suspension of operations of NRU reactors in Canada. Japan uses 14% of all the Mo-99 consumed in the world.

In the future, highly enriched uranium (HEU) will not be used in order to reduce the risk of nuclear proliferation. JAIF said that a method for producing Mo-99 and Tc-99m without HEU will be demonstrated at the Japan Materials Testing Reactor (JMTR) of the Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA). Those efforts are expected to be able to meet domestic demand.

Meanwhile inspection work at Canada's NRU reactor continues. On 8 July operator Atomic Energy of Canada Limited said it will not return to service before late 2009.

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