Nordion settles reactor dispute with AECL

July 17, 1996

Radioisotope producer Nordion International has settled a disputewith a Canadian government agency that had stalled the constructionof nuclear reactors dedicated to producing molybdenum-99, theraw material for technetium. Nordion, of Kanata, Ontario,

Radioisotope producer Nordion International has settled a disputewith a Canadian government agency that had stalled the constructionof nuclear reactors dedicated to producing molybdenum-99, theraw material for technetium. Nordion, of Kanata, Ontario, announcedlast week that it has signed a 20-year agreement with Atomic Energyof Canada Ltd. to fund the construction of two new reactors atAECL's Chalk River facility.

AECL supplies Nordion with molybdenum-99, which Nordion refinesand distributes to radiopharmaceutical customers, who use it tocreate technetium generators. AECL several years ago began buildinga new reactor as a backup to its existing National Research Universalfacility, which provides over 80% of the world's supply of molybdenum.AECL stopped work on the project in 1993, however, in a disputewith Nordion over the terms of a contract that stipulates howmuch AECL should be paid for its radioisotopes (SCAN 6/7/95 and11/17/93).

Last week's agreement resolved the dispute and should enablenuclear medicine practitioners to sleep easier. The first of AECL'stwo identical Maple reactors will begin operations in 1999, withthe second reactor scheduled to go online a year later. The NRUfacility will be decommissioned once the Maple reactors are completed.

The project will cost $140 million, with $100 million financedby an interest-free loan from the Canadian government. Nordionhas said that it will probably have to raise the price of molybdenumto pay for the project, an eventuality that most in the nuclearmedicine community have accepted in exchange for a stable supplyof technetium (SCAN 1/17/96).