2 Mo-99 suppliers report unexpected shutdowns

Two sources of the radioisotope molybdenum-99 (Mo-99) are reporting unanticipated supply interruptions.

Atomic Energy of Canada (AECL) on November 20 reported an unplanned interruption of its Mo-99 production to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC). AECL said it would not be able to meet its deliveries scheduled for this week.

In its communiqué to the CNSC, AECL blamed "emergent equipment repairs" to a nuclear reactor's fuel rod flask for the shutdown in production. The flask is used in the fueling and defueling of the National Research Universal (NRU) reactor at Chalk River Laboratories and the movement of other reactor components including Mo-99 rods.

AECL expects that ongoing repairs will be completed before November 23, and it anticipates that Mo-99 deliveries will resume over the weekend.

The worldwide supply of Mo-99 is also at risk following a leak at a South African nuclear energy facility this month.

A report from Bloomberg confirmed that NTP Radioisotopes SOC, one of the world's largest manufacturers of Mo-99, halted production of the radioisotope on November 2 after a release of noble gas and iodine at its plant in Pelindaba. NTP expects to begin repairs early next week.

According to the Bloomberg report, NTP's local Mo-99 market will experience a limited shortage, but the global Mo-99 supply will be affected more dramatically because it will take time for other facilities to increase production to cover the temporary NTP shutdown.

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