MAPLE Reactors: A Solution for Medical Isotope Supply
On June 18, 2009, at the Standing Committee on Natural Resources in Ottawa, Dr. Harold Smith, ex-Manager, MAPLE Nuclear Commissioning, HIZ and Associates Inc., testified that "I and my team took both MAPLE 1 and MAPLE 2 to criticality. We measured the positive (power coefficient of reactivity) PCR... there are two MAPLE reactors, each with the capacity to deliver more than the current world requirement (for medical isotopes). Positive PCR requires a relatively simple engineering fix to restrain the bowing of the elements and to reduce the PCR to approximately zero."
On June 11, 2009, at the Standing Committee on Natural Resources hearing in Ottawa, Jill Chitra, an engineer and Vice-President, Strategic Technologies at MDS Nordion stated that the MAPLE reactors indeed work. "From 2000 to 2008, the MAPLE reactors ran numerous times at various power levels, up to 80% power. During tests, targets were inserted into the reactor for a number of those tests. When targets are inserted in a reactor and it operates at power, isotopes are created; moly-99 is created... those targets could be removed and processed, and (if they were) you would have medical isotopes for sale." Independent expert John Waddington confirmed to the committee that they "had an accurate answer from Ms. Chitra" regarding the creation of isotopes in the MAPLE reactors.
And in its January, 2009 report, Medical Isotope Production Without Highly Enriched Uranium, The National Academy of Science Committee stated that "the Committee assumes that the worst-case scenario for fixing the MAPLE reactors involves the replacement of the reactor cores. The cost of such replacements would likely be small (tens of millions of dollars) in comparison to
|SOURCE MDS Nordion|
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