The High Flux Reactor in Petten (Photo: NRG)The High Flux Reactor (HFR) in Petten in the Netherlands – a major source of medical isotopes – was restarted on 17 March, NRG announced.

“Within two weeks, the first medical isotopes for nuclear medicine will be delivered to hospitals,” said Vinod Ramnandanlal, Director of Commerce, NRG|PALLAS.

“We are pleased that NRG can once again meet the worldwide demand for medical isotopes”

Andor Glaudemans, chairman of the Dutch Association for Nuclear Medicine (NVNG) said: “This is very good news, medical isotopes are of enormous importance to many patients.” In the coming month, more than 1.1 million patient doses will be produced, which will be used for the diagnosis and treatment diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular disease.

The HFR was not started up as expected on 20 January due to a leak in a water pipe for test facilities on the outside of the reactor core. NRG then started inspections and preparations for a new water supply. For this, NRG had to modify the facility and submit an application for a licence change to the Authority for Nuclear Safety and Radiation Protection (ANVS). The ANVS granted this change permit on 9 March and ANVS decided to have the permit take effect immediately.

Last year the HFR celebrated its 60th anniversary. The reactor was commissioned in 1961 to develop nuclear technology for energy supply. Since the 1980s, the HFR has been increasingly used for the production of medical isotopes, especially for diagnostic use. Today, more than 30,000 patients a day are treated with medical isotopes from the HFR. This number is increasing mainly due to innovations in therapeutic nuclear drugs for the treatment of various cancers.

Environmental permit for PALLAS

HFR is due to be replaced by PALLAS – a new multipurpose reactor for the production of medical isotopes and high-end technological research. 

Earlier in 2022, the Environmental Service Noord-Holland Noord granted a permit for the construction of the PALLAS-reactor and for the realisation of the Nuclear Health Centre (NHC) under the Nature Conservation Act. The milesone means that PALLAS can continue with realisation of its building plans on the Energy & Health Campus in Petten. 

"This is a wonderful step forward. Our approach, project specific ecological research, has shown that nitrogen deposition does not stand in the way of the realisation of the PALLAS-reactor and our production facility at the NHC," said Marco Visser licensing manager PALLAS.

The new Dutch Cabinet is expected to make a decision on the financing of the new reactor in the first half of 2022.

The High Flux Reactor in Petten (Photo: NRG)