US to build medical isotope facility

29 February 2016

The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has granted a construction permit for a pilot "first-of-a-kind" medical isotope production facility. The licence will allow Shine Medical Technologies, a producer of medical tracers and cancer treatment elements, to build a facility for the manufacture of molybdenum-99 (Mo-99) and other radioisotopes in Janesville, southern Wisconsin, a statement said. According to the NRC, there has been no commercial production of Mo-99 in the US since 1989 and the new facility will be in line with the government's efforts to secure a reliable domestic supply of the isotope.

The NRC said it had examined the preliminary design and environmental impact assessment of the Shine facility before issuing the construction permit. In order to start operating the facility, Shine must submit a separate operating licence application to the NRC. Mo-99 is used largely in medical diagnostics, but there have been shortages in recent years primarily due to the decommissioning of obsolete research reactors which are used to produce it.

In 2014, 11 countries including the US signed a declaration aimed at ensuring the security of supply of the most widely-used medical radioisotope. The OECD's Nuclear Energy Agency said the Joint Declaration on the Security of Supply of Medical Radioisotopes aimed to ensure availability of Mo-99.

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