The High Flux Reactor (HFR) project team at Petten in the Netherlands has provided a progress update on the reactor’s extended closure — during inspection activities on 21 January prior to the reactor start, a technical defect had been found in a cooling system.
“The cause of the defect has been identified and the analysis of the underlying cause has been carried out and will be submitted to the regulator ANVS [Authority for Nuclear Safety and Radiation Protection]," NRG said. “The project team is making good progress and a solution to restore functionality has been selected. The plan, including the supporting safety analyses, is in preparation and will be submitted to the ANVS. After approval of the plan by ANVS, the chosen solution will be implemented and the cooling system will be restored.”
The HFR is one of the few reactors in the world that can make medical isotopes. The reactor is also widely used for research into safe and new nuclear energy.
BR2 and Maria look to boost supplies
All other players in the supply chain are making efforts to cope with the radioisotope shortage.
Poland's Maria research reactor at the National Centre for Nuclear Research (Narodowe Centrum Badan Jadrowych - NCBJ) in Swierk on 25 January boosted supplied of molybdenum 99 (Mo-99) responding to a shortage caused by closure of the HFR.
Begium's BR2 reactor also announced it will extend its operating cycle to cope with the shortage. The reactor produces 10-15 different radioisotopes per operating cycle, but principally molybdenum-99 and lutetium-177.
“BR2 is a versatile and, above all, flexible installation. Each operating cycle, we are able to fill the reactor's irradiation channels differently. As such, we can respond to pressing questions," said Van den Berghe (SCK CEN).
“Patients are our top priority. We are extending our operating cycle by starting three days earlier. We are currently calculating whether it is necessary to postpone certain planned experiments in order to create space for additional production capacity."
Photo: Belgium's BR2 reactor is extending its operating cycle to help with radioisotope shortages due to unexpected closure of HFR