European Mo-99 production at Petten may resume in February

January 26, 2009

The production of molybdenum-99 at the High Flux Reactor in Petten, the Netherlands, may begin again in February, signaling the end to a five-month shortage of medical isotopes essential for nuclear imaging at medical facilities throughout Europe.

The production of molybdenum-99 at the High Flux Reactor in Petten, the Netherlands, may begin again in February, signaling the end to a five-month shortage of medical isotopes essential for nuclear imaging at medical facilities throughout Europe.

The Nuclear Research and Consultancy Group, the facility's operator, announced Jan. 23 that it had requested permission from Dutch regulatory authorities to restart the HFR in Petten. In a short news release, it said that sealing and detection systems had been installed. Independent experts have confirmed the changes assure safe reactor operation.

The reactor, one of two main sources of Mo-99 in Europe, has been out of action since mid-August when gas bubbles were found escaping into its cooling system. The cause of the leak was subsequently traced to corrosion between an external pipe and its concrete casing.

Engineers hoped to seal the leak by inserting a sleeve into the pipe. But when a detailed repair plan was drawn up, it became evident that the process would take much longer than expected.

Nuclear medicine services throughout Europe have faced disruption to supplies of technetium-99m, the daughter nuclide of Mo-99, while the High Flux Reactor has been offline. Another crunch in Tc-99m availability was expected in early January when imaging services resumed their normal workloads after the holiday break.

However, radiopharmaceutical provider Covidien assured its British customers in a Jan. 15 letter that they can expect to receive their full consignments of Mo-99 in generators delivered during the first two weeks of February.

For more information from the Diagnostic Imaging and SearchMedica archives:

Europe faces further Mo-99 supply woesEuropean hospitals cope with Mo-99 supply crisisCovidien advises customers about impending molybdenum shortage