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OPG to produce life-saving isotopes at Darlington Nuclear

 OPG to produce life-saving isotopes at Darlington Nuclear

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​OPG will soon expand the production of life-saving medical isotopes to its Darlington Nuclear Generating Station (GS), reasserting its position as a world leader in the supply of critical radioisotopes.

A new collaboration between OPG’s wholly-owned subsidiary, Canadian Nuclear Partners, and BWX Technologies will see Molybdenum-99 harvested from reactors at Darlington beginning as early as 2020.

Under this important supply agreement, the station will provide irradiation services to produce the isotope, which is used in over 30 million diagnostic and medical imaging treatments around the world each year, helping to detect illnesses like cancer and heart disease.

A man in a lab works with medical isotopes.
OPG has entered into a collaboration with BWXT to produce life-saving radioisotopes at the Darlington Nuclear Generating Station.

Darlington Nuclear will be the only source of Molybdenum-99 in North America, ensuring a stable domestic supply of this critical product.

​“Harvesting this product from Darlington’s units will give patients access to vital medical treatments while maintaining Canada’s position as a global leader in the field of radioisotopes,” said Jeff Lyash, OPG’s President and CEO. “This innovative collaboration is just another example of how Ontario’s nuclear power, in addition to producing clean, reliable energy, can improve people’s lives both here and around the world.”

Because of the unique design of Darlington’s CANDU reactors, medical isotopes can be removed while the reactor is still online without interrupting the station’s generation of clean energy.

Once harvested, BWXT will utilize its newly designed, proprietary generators, called NeuCap1, to process the Molybdenum-99 into Technetium-99m, the final product that will be used in diagnostic imaging.

The new agreement couldn’t have come at a more critical time for Ontario and Canada.

Since the shutdown of Canada’s National Research Universal reactor in March, North America no longer has a domestic supply of Molybdenum-99, which has left hospitals to rely on imports from Europe, Africa and Australia.

The arrangement between OPG and BWXT will be capable of producing enough Molybdenum-99 to supply the current and future North American demand for this important diagnostic imaging radioisotope.

For decades, OPG’s nuclear stations have not only provided clean, low-cost power for Ontarians, they have also been a world-leading source of life-saving medical isotopes.

Since the 1970s, OPG has been successfully harvesting Coablt-60 from reactors at its Pickering Nuclear GS. The radioisotope is used to irradiate and sterilize medical supplies and equipment, keeping hospitals around the world clean and safe while helping countless patients.