Canada’s Bruce Power said on 7 January it had completed another harvest of Cobalt-60, which is used to sterilise medical equipment used by frontline health care workers.

The medical isotopes were harvested during the ongoing outage of unit 7 at the Bruce nuclear power plant and sent to Ottawa-based Nordion for processing. From there, the Cobalt-60 will be shipped around the world to sterilise up to 10 billion pairs of surgical gloves and single-use medical devices, as well as for the treatment of breast cancer and brain tumours.

“For more than 35 years, Bruce Power has played a critical role in supporting the international health care community with this indispensable medical resource,” said Chad MacLean, Department Manager, Bruce Power Operations. Cobalt-60 sterilises 40% of the world’s single-use medical equipment. 

The Bruce 7 outage is part of the ongoing Life-Extension Programme at the Bruce NPP including a Major Component Replacement (MCR) project. The eight pressurised heavy-water Candu reactor units at the Bruce site (Bruce A – units 1-4, and Bruce B – units 4-8) began commercial operation between 1977 and 1987. MCR, which began in 2016 with Bruce 6 and also includes units 3-8, will extend the life of the site until 2064. Bruce 1&2 have already been refurbished.