All Posts Tagged With: "McMaster University nuclear reactor"
Within 18 months, and with an extra $30 million, McMaster says it could fill the gap
An Ontario university says its aging nuclear reactor is capable of supplying Canada’s medical isotope needs – four times over.
The catch is, it will take up to 18 months to start production, which won’t help solve the current shortage crisis.
Representatives from Hamilton’s McMaster University told a House of Commons committee Tuesday that their reactor needs an extra $30 million – on top of the $22 million it just got from the federal and Ontario governments – over five years for staff and fuel.
“Our physicists have done the calculations and verified them with the literature and . . . that equals, at the end of the day, 20 per cent of the North American market,” said Christopher Heysel, the school’s director of nuclear operations and facilities.
The McMaster reactor is the only Canadian reactor outside of Chalk River capable of producing the isotopes used to detect cancer and heart ailments.
Doctors have been struggling to deal with a scarce supply of isotopes since Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. shut down its aging reactor at Chalk River, Ont., a month ago after finding a heavy-water leak.
Many cancer and heart patients have had to scramble to find alternatives.
The 52-year-old reactor produces a third of the world’s supply of the medical isotopes and AECL expects the reactor to be out of commission for at least three months.
The 50-year-old McMaster reactor would need to ramp up to a seven-day, round-the-clock production cycle. It now runs five days a week for 16 hours at a time. The reactor filled in for the Chalk River during a shutdown in the 1970s.
The school also wants to partner with Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. to store highly enriched uranium from the United States or Russia, and handle other logistics.
And it wants the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission to forego any changes to the school’s licence to operate the reactor.
The McMaster reactor is just one option the Conservative government is mulling to deal with the isotope shortage.