Darlington Nuclear now capable of producing life-saving medical isotopes
Clarington, ON – Life-saving Molybdenum-99 (Mo-99) isotopes can now be produced at Ontario Power Generation’s (OPG) Darlington Nuclear Generating Station, thanks to the installation and initial commissioning of an innovative isotope system by Laurentis Energy Partners and BWXT Medical Ltd. (NYSE: BWXT).
The production of Mo-99 at Darlington will be a world-first for a commercial power reactor.
With the necessary equipment now installed, the team will continue with planned commissioning and preparation activities for commercial production of Mo-99, pending completion of validation runs and approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Health Canada.
Mo-99 is used to produce Technetium-99 metastable (Tc-99m), one of the most prevalently used diagnostic imaging agents in nuclear medicine, which helps detect illnesses like cancer and heart disease.
Tc-99m is delivered to radiopharmacies and hospitals across North America to make radiopharmaceuticals for patients. This production break-through will help resolve historical shortages of this vital product.
- Because of the unique design of Darlington’s CANDU reactors, medical isotopes can be produced without interrupting the generation of clean energy.
- North America has not had a stable domestic supply of Mo-99 since Canada’s National Research Universal reactor ceased production in October 2016. Hospitals have had to rely on imports from Europe, Africa, and Australia.
- Once operational, the arrangement between Laurentis and BWXT Medical will be capable of producing enough Mo-99 to supply a significant portion of the current and future North American demand.
- Historically, Mo-99 has been produced within research reactors using uranium as a starting material. Alternatively, BWXT Medical’s Tc-99m generator will be produced using natural molybdenum targets irradiated at Darlington Nuclear, greatly reducing waste by-products.
- In the future, the newly-installed Target Delivery System (TDS) at Darlington may be used to produce other medical isotopes.
- With the addition of Mo-99, multiple isotopes are now produced at Darlington: Helium-3, Mo-99, and Tritium, with plans underway to produce Cobalt-60 – currently also extracted from reactors at Pickering.
- “Tc-99m is the workhorse isotope for nuclear medicine,” said Dr. David Laidley, Nuclear Medicine Physician at London Health Sciences Centre. “Used in over 80 per cent of all nuclear medicine procedures, the availability of this critical isotope will save countless lives.”
- “Ontario is leading the way on the production of medical isotopes, leveraging our world-class nuclear generation stations and supply chain,” said Todd Smith, Ontario’s Minister of Energy. “Production of Molybdenum-99 at Ontario's Darlington Nuclear Generating Station, a world-first for a commercial power reactor, will create a steady global supply of radiopharmaceuticals which help our healthcare system detect illnesses like cancer and heart disease."
- “This is an exciting milestone for all companies involved, but most importantly, for patients in need,” said Ken Hartwick, President and CEO of OPG. “Ontario’s nuclear generating stations have demonstrated for decades their value extends beyond producing reliable, affordable, clean energy. I’m proud of the role our employees and stations play in providing life-saving medical isotopes to the world.”
- “Completing the installation of the TDS at Darlington is a significant milestone for the Laurentis and BWXT team,” said Dr. Jonathan Cirtain, BWXT Medical Ltd. President and Chief Executive Officer. “This partnership leverages Darlington’s industry-leading operational reliability, the expertise of Laurentis and OPG to provide irradiation services, and BWXT’s proprietary neutron capture process and innovative production technology. It has been a collaborative and industry-leading effort.”
- “The installation of the TDS is the result of many years and countless hours of support from everyone involved at Laurentis, BWXT, OPG, and our other project partners”, said Jason Van Wart, President of Laurentis. “The entire team was tireless in their efforts to install this ground-breaking isotope irradiation system to secure a reliable, large-scale supply of a crucial diagnostic isotope that hospitals and patients so desperately need. As we continue to innovate and aspire to be a global leader in isotope production, I look forward to what our team and the industry will accomplish next.”
- Watch a video on how Ontario is leading the way in the production of Mo-99: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S-pCcy8LqRA
- To learn more about nuclear medicine capabilities and, specifically Tc-99m (2:44), click here: https://www.bwxt.com/bwxt-medical/nuclear-medicine-capabilities-1
About Laurentis Energy Partners
Laurentis Energy Partners, a subsidiary of Ontario Power Generation, provides solutions for customers across energy markets and in health care around the world, offering expertise in inspections, refurbishment and engineering, nuclear materials sorting and recycling, the production of nuclear isotopes, and the advancement of small modular reactors. Laurentis has offices in the Greater Toronto Area, Hamilton and Bruce County in Ontario, Saint John in New Brunswick, and Bucharest and Cernavoda in Romania.
As one of North America’s largest, most diverse electricity generators, OPG invests millions in local economies and employs thousands of people across Ontario and the US. OPG and its family of companies are leading the development of new technologies, refurbishment projects, and electrification initiatives to power the growing demand of a clean economy. Learn more about how the company is advancing these initiatives while prioritizing people, partnerships, and strong communities by reading OPG’s Climate Change Plan, Reconciliation Action Plan, and Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (ED&I) strategy.
About BWXT Medical Ltd.
BWXT Medical Ltd. manufactures custom radiopharmaceuticals, radiotherapies and medical isotopes. BWXT Medical is a subsidiary of BWX Technologies, Inc. (NYSE: BWXT). BWXT is a Fortune 1000 and Defense News Top 100 manufacturing and engineering innovator that provides safe and effective nuclear solutions for global security, clean energy, environmental remediation, nuclear medicine and space exploration. Follow us on Twitter at @BWXT and learn more at https://www.bwxt.com/bwxt-medical/about-us.
Forward Looking Statements
BWXT cautions that this release contains forward-looking statements, including statements relating to the production, performance, timing, impact and value of Tc-99m and changes in demand, benefit and applicability of Tc-99m. These forward-looking statements involve a number of risks and uncertainties, including, among other things, changes in market demand for, delays in and commercialization of our Tc-99m production; our ability to obtain the necessary regulatory approvals, licenses and permits in a timely manner; the ability to commercialize this product; competition in an environment of rapid technological change; and the enforcement and protection of our intellectual property rights. If one or more of these or other risks materialize, actual results may vary materially from those expressed. For a more complete discussion of these and other risk factors, please see BWXT’s annual report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2021 and subsequent quarterly reports on Form 10-Q filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. BWXT cautions not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date of this release, and undertakes no obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statement, except to the extent required by applicable law.
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