The world is at risk of temporarily losing as much as 70% of its supply of molybdenum-99 medical isotopesa uranium processing byproduct used in most imaging procedureswhen additional nuclear reactors go offline for maintenance within the next several weeks, according to Society of Nuclear Medicine President Robert Atcher.
The announcement, made today at a news briefing held during the societys annual conference in Toronto, comes amid weeks of worry over the shutdown of Canadas Chalk River reactor, which produces about one-third of the worlds supply of molybdenum-99 medical isotopes. The U.S. depends on the reactor for roughly half of its supply of molybdenum-99 isotopes, and about 91% of radiologists surveyed by the society said their practices have been unable to meet the demand for imaging procedures since shutdown of the Chalk River facility in late May.
One of the anxieties we have is that we dont know when the Chalk River reactor will be coming online, Atcher said. And over the next few weeks, other reactors will be coming offline for maintenance, particularly in the Netherlands, which will have an extended shutdown. Atcher said that the society has launched an isotope task force in an effort to address concerns over future supplies.