The United States does not produce isotopes so the alternatives are the Netherlands, Belgium, France and South Africa. there are only 5 plants in the world that produce isotopes. As Mo-99 generators have a half life of just 66 hours, supply disruptions occur quickly. Hospitals not getting any generators next week may have to delay radiation treatments, such as those for cancer. Isotopes are widely used for cancer radiation treatments for breast and prostate cancer. This plant supplies about half the half the clinics and hospitals in the US and one third of the world’s supplies. BD
Also, prices may increase during this time as well as longer order times as the other facilities are not as close as Canada. In September of 2008 the Petten reactor in The Netherlands went down with technical problems too. The last time the facility went down in Canada was in 2007 and it was closed for a month, see the related reading below for more details. BD
CHICAGO, May 21 (Reuters) - Makers of medical isotopes used in scores of diagnostic imaging tests are scrambling to find new suppliers after Canadian health officials temporarily closed a nuclear reactor last week that produces a third of the world's supply.
Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd shut down its 50-year-old reactor at Chalk River, Ontario, after a small leak of heavy water, used as part of the nuclear reaction.
It expects the reactor to remain out of operation for more than a month but some analysts think it could be months.
Only five nuclear reactors in the world produce molybdenum-99 or Mo-99, which is used in diagnostic tests for cancer, heart disease and a host of other ills.
"It's going to cause a shortage and it's going to cause a price rise. Those are unavoidable negative consequences," Stephen Brozak, president of WBB Securities in New Jersey, said in a telephone interview.
"That reactor supplies about half of the clinics and hospitals in the United States," he said. "About 8 million of our studies are imperiled because that reactor is offline."
"It's going to mean that a large percentage of the procedures that would normally be completed and a large number of the patients that would be served will be left unserved for the duration of this shutdown," he said, adding that some patients "will perish."
Cancer and heart patients in smaller Alberta cities who need isotopes for diagnostic procedures may need to go to Edmonton and Calgary while the Chalk River nuclear plant in Ontario is shut down.