Ontario a leader in life-saving isotopes
MPP Bill Walker’s motion recognizes province’s global leadership
Toronto, ON - A recent private member’s motion introduced by the Member of Provincial Parliament (MPP) for Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound, Bill Walker, recognizing Ontario’s global leadership position in isotopes, received unanimous support from the Ontario Legislature.
The motion recognizes the global leadership role Ontario’s nuclear power plants and robust nuclear supply chain play in production of isotopes used for a variety of critical functions, including:
- Treatment of cancer and other diseases
- Sterilization of medical devices
- Medical imaging
- New drug development
- Food preservation
About half of the world’s Cobalt-60 (Co-60) comes from Ontario nuclear plants. The isotope has been critical during the COVID-19 pandemic for a variety of uses, including sterilization of gloves and testing swabs.
Both Pickering and Darlington nuclear generating stations play a role in ensuring a steady supply of an array of life-saving isotopes. Cobalt-60 is currently produced at Pickering and, after modifications as part of Darlington’s refurbishment, will be produced there. As well, OPG subsidiary Laurentis Energy Partners plans to produce and extract both Molybdenum-99 (Moly-99) and Helium-3 (He-3) at Darlington.
- Laurentis Energy Partners and BWXT are working together to extract Moly-99, used in medical diagnostics and imaging, from Darlington reactors.
- Laurentis has also begun to extract He-3 from tritium stored at Darlington. The tritium is removed from heavy water in the CANDU station. Among other things, He-3 is used in security monitors at ports worldwide to detect radioactive materials and can enhance magnetic resonance imaging of the lungs.
- OPG recently completed a harvest of Co-60 at the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station, continuing a decades-long program of producing this life-saving medical isotope.
“The world relies on Ontario’s nuclear fleet for a steady supply of isotopes, and OPG takes this responsibility seriously,” said Steve Gregoris, Senior Vice President, Darlington Nuclear. “As we continue to innovate, we will continue to find ways to build capacity and develop uses for much-needed isotopes.”
“Millions of people enjoy a healthier and a safer quality of life because of the isotopes generated from Ontario’s CANDU nuclear power plants”, said Jason Van Wart, Laurentis Energy Partners Vice President. “Laurentis is proud to be a vital partner and leader in the production of various isotopes for Ontario, Canada, and the world.”
“The potential for growth in the isotope space provides an invaluable opportunity to leverage Ontario’s established nuclear supply chain that has developed over the past several years,” said MPP Walker. “The landscape of medical isotope production in Ontario is diverse, due in part, to the long-standing and world-class research into reactor and accelerator research and will continue to positively make a difference in the healthcare of people around the world.”
As a global climate change leader and the largest, most diverse electricity generator in the province, OPG and its family of companies are helping lead the charge to a post-carbon economy.