back to article Medical isotope scarcity as Dutch reactor goes titsup

A "looming crisis" faces the world of nuclear medicine, as unexpected shutdowns at nuclear reactors producing vital medical isotopes are seriously affecting world supplies, according to reports. Experts in the field are calling for concerted international action to stop such events happening again. All five of the world's main …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Nadir for Netherlander Nuclide News. Failed Fission Factory Fingered. Dutch Dikesmiths Despondent.

    Lord, I am bored and this board offers flawed reward. Overawed outboard!

  2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

    The bureaucratic reflex

    Implement arbitrary security theatre via the logic of

    (1) not wanting to think too hard about the actual problem

    (2) wanting to be seen doing something


    (3) shutting down everything through red tape

    I hope some top animals will see their doctor unable to provide the required isotopes. Guess they can still check into a Russian clinic.

  3. Tony Barnes

    Dirty bombs

    All hail the scariest of never to be used hysteria inducing nonsense.

    A nail bomb is easy to make, and does the job there and then, with bloody, horrible scenes splashed all over the media. Who the chuff is gonna go to the trouble of pissing about with nuclear material when there are far easier and cheaper options, with much the same if not better results.

    Shame on whoever first started this to scare the world...

  4. Tom

    66 hour half-life

    Would there even be any point using this in a dirty bomb?


  5. amanfromMars Silver badge

    Hmmm too.

    Almost everybody underestimates how Advanced are the Nederlander. And IT Provides AIMost Effective Proxy Stealth at Zero Cost for Great Profit.

  6. Anonymous John

    Make up your minds!

    "According to the Society for Nuclear Medicine (SNM), "there is a distinct possibility that worldwide production of Mo-99 could completely cease for a prolonged period, "

    "The Chalk River plant in Canada - (SNIP) It's expected to re-open this week."

    Mine's the lead-lined one.

  7. Anonymous Coward

    Half-time and dirty bombs

    66 hour half-time does not mean everything is safe after 66 hours. Just that its 'half as dangerous' after 66 hrs.

    And one difference between dirty bombs and other bombs is the press coverage:

    Throw a bomb after US troops in Iraq = small notice on page 24.

    Make it a dirty bomb, and make sure the press know = headlines!

  8. Sureo

    The terrorists among us

    The Chalk River reactor in Canada was shut down last year due to mandated safety systems being offline. The government in its wisdom ordered the reactor to be restarted, in spite of this. Who needs terrorists when idiots can make decisions like this?

  9. S


    It seems sending one of the minions off to do a chemistry or biology degree would (should?) be the first step for 'terrorist' groups. Using headline causing substances in an ineffective attack is less scary than an efficient, knowledgeable group.

    At least I guess it would be; I have seen neither.

    Until then I think we're doing a fairly good job of terrorising ourselves.

    Joke because - if you didn't laugh, you'd cry

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    A terrorist is merely someone who wants to disrupt our lives in some way for their own gain.

    Who ever started this is the terrorist, the media are the terrorists.

    ...And not one muslim radical from a far away land was involved.

  11. Mark

    re: Dirty bombs

    Hell, use old drug addict needles for that Bio Terror Weapon feel...

  12. Rob

    How wrong terrorsits are

    "It seems sending one of the minions off to do a chemistry or biology degree would (should?) be the first step for 'terrorist' groups. Using headline causing substances in an ineffective attack is less scary than an efficient, knowledgeable group."

    Sod all that, smart terrorists would send their minions on a PR & Marketing course, they could cripple countries over night with our hysterical main stream media. (Stop feeding the media E numbers, they are far too hyperactive).

    (at no point was I trying to include the El'Reg in the sweeping statement above, I still love you all, I wouldn't be able to do a full days work otherwise).

  13. Dave Bell

    Why trust a jounalist?

    You didn't need Google and the Internet to find the flaws in the original Chernobyl scare stories. My old Penguin Dictionary of Science was enough.

    It's easier than ever to check the basic science of a story. And they still get away with printing meretricious crap. Am I in the wrong job?

  14. RW
    Paris Hilton

    Chalk River

    The mess about the shutdown of the Chalk River reactors included elements of the conservative government trying to assert control over government functionaries who do not demonstrably adhere to the principles of "straight-think."

    However, from where I sit, it looks like the woman in charge of the Chalk River shutdown had fallen prey to the nanny-state health&safety meme "no risk at all, absolutely no risk, not now, not ever, and damn the consequences."

    Something to criticize on both sides of the squabble.

    (Canada's current government is Stephen Harper's dimwit Conservative party, who are probably surreptitiously funded by American Republican interests. The Republicans detest Canada because the great white north demonstrates that socialized medicine works about as well as the capitalist system and, what's worse, gives the lie to the idea that same-sex marriage signals the end of Civilization As We Know It.)

    Paris because she, dear girl that she is, is clearly focussed on having fun while making money and doesn't let these heavy ideas distract her. Would that more people took the Paris approach!

  15. James O'Brien


    Looks like its time to invest in the global nuclear medicine market :)

    /mines the one with the shares in it.

  16. Alan Johnson

    Victims of government scare stories

    I have designed 4 nuclear medicine systems over twenty years. Tc99m is used in the majority of scans and an inability to source molybdenum generators will be a severe problem. Nuclear medicine has always suffered from the word 'nuclear 'and with the current terrorism hysteria this has got much worse. The half lifes of the isotopes used in nuc med means that it would be very difficult to make a dirty bomb, even if such a thing made sense, because you can not keep the isotopes for long. As a design consultancy we recently disposed of all our test and calibration sourecs because it was just too much hassle and uneconomic to keep them in the current climate. Government dis-information and fear-mongering will adversely effect those who woudl benefit from nuclear medicine.

  17. Twm Davies

    I thought they solved this with MRI?

    MRI was called Nuclear Magnetic resonance imaging originally, until meat bags objected a big scary "Nuclear" machine pointed at their flesh.

    So the nuclear was removed.

  18. Chris G Silver badge

    Everything is becoming clear

    If the nuke industry is running, some one could use nuclear medicine products to kill people?

    If the nuke industry isn't running no one can use nuclear medicine products but people still die?

    I think maybe a couple of the posters above are wrong, muslim extremists have penetrated the media and are circulating hysterical articles to disrupt our lives.

    When you consider the cost ( literally) of the war on terrorism for the normal, average people of the world in terms of taxes, reduced freedoms, biobloodymetrics etc, compared to what the so called terrorists have invested, I think the terrorists have won hands down.

    Maybe, in view of how clever they seem to have been we should hand over the reins of power to them now before they get really serious.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle

    Nuclear power = good, nuclear WMD = bad

    Or is that the other way round, let me go ask Tony, he knows, and I'm sure he wouldn't lie to us, and nor would his friends and paymasters.

    As for nuclear medicine... when I did my physics degree, it was still safe to call an MRI scanner a nuclear magnetic resonance imaging scanner (actually, the first human MRI scan was while I was still at college, according to you-know-where).

    It's a shame the british (and world) media are so ignorant of science that the word nuclear has even had to be dropped from NMR, and the word radiation in "solar radiation" is something to be afraid of. Come back James Burke, the world needs you just as much as (maybe more than) it needs James Lovelock. Heck, once we run out of affordable gas, even James Watt might be welcome again...

  20. heystoopid
    Paris Hilton


    So where does Lucas Heights down under in Oz Opal Reactor which was suppose to go critical again in March '08 ?

    Some things are always in a state of critical mass at the best of times !

  21. Anonymous Coward

    Reminds Me of the Canadian Isotope Reactor

    Yes, just like the Canadian Isotope Reactor that had a long shut-down a while back. As things got worse, the Federal Government overruled the nuclear safety watchdog (including a nasty smear campaign) and eventually she had to leave her post (I can't recall if she got the sack or just resigned) - either way she was treated terribly.

    The reactor itself had to come back up after maintenance with a back-up system off-line rather than being properly fixed because of a shortage of isotopes. Business first, safety second, as it always goes!

    The reactor is an old dinosaur. There were supposed to be new ones, but the idiots designing them made the load/unload throat too narrow which in turn would bust the rods or something like that. Anyway, lots of tax-payers money down the toilet as usual.

    Much like similar design flaws allowed to creep into Ontario's power generation nukes because of silly re-design to satisfy political expediency.

    It it ain't broke don't fix it - especially for nukes.

    But then just look at the fiascos surrounding military planes etc.!

    Just life I suppose.

    It will be interesting to watch the new generation of nukes that appear in the UK, Canada and the US etc. - will they be design hacks or proven designs? In order to keep local firms busy they will end up being hacks and have massive cost overruns.

  22. Scott

    Let me Get This Straight

    I live in the country where the atom bomb was built, where nuclear weapons are taken for granted (unfortunately) and that country cannot produce medical isotopes? I understand being a net oil importer. But medicine?

    For no reason I can make sense of, folks here seem more concerned about a potential vice-president's sex life and the sex life of her minor daughter than are about the availability of medicine. Go figure.

  23. amanfromMars Silver badge

    AQur for Madness and ITs Evil in Badness .... Stop their Pocket Money...

    ..... and Bankrupt their Stock Holders.*

    "Maybe, in view of how clever they seem to have been we should hand over the reins of power to them now before they get really serious." .... By Chris G Posted Monday 1st September 2008 20:35 GMT

    Yes, that would be much better than the Financial System and their Dependent Derivative Markets going up in Smoke with a Flurry of Revelations about their SuperSubAtomic Structuring...... Volatile Catastrophic Vulnerability.

    Best to Plug that Gap/Cover that Bet with whatever IT Takes, for Failure to Act Properly, and/or React Wrongly, will Guarantee ITs Promise with No One to Blame but those Presently on the Bridge/at the [Jesse] Helms/Milking the System with their Mickey Mouse Tales of Terrorists and Red Flag Operations ..... In House Entertainment Perpetrated against the Masses.

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  24. Anonymous Coward

    Panic Over, Critical Mess Achieved!

    66hrs Half Life...

    Could try Milk...

  25. Steve Bush

    Fear is desired by our government as much as the terrorists

    It is a naive notion that it is only terrorists who desire populations in fear. WMD anybody?

  26. An nonymous Cowerd

    having been inside the reactor at Petten

    which the Canadian newspaper insists is in Belgium, (whilst I visited the High Flux Reactor whilst it was firmly in Noord Holland province of Netherlands!) I'm sure they'll be back after September as there have been similar small leaks in the past. The planned annual maintenance included extensive testing in order to reveal such minor problems. I did enjoy looking at the Čerenkov light at the bottom of the HFR cooling pool, it had HEU then, whilst for the last two years it has been 'burning LEU.

    I think Petten is planning a new PALLAS reactor <> in the next twenty years? job for someone at <>

    Shirley some of the world's increasing number of hospital based medical cyclotrons must be equipped to produce Mo-99/Tc-99m generators? Maybe not in the large quantities that a 45megawatt high flux High Energy Magic device can, to answer my own Q.

  27. David Simpson
    Jobs Halo

    Isn't the answer

    simply not to supply the USA - they are the source of all these mental rules from the War on terrorism.

    That way there would be enough left for civilised people.

  28. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    RE:muslim extremists have penetrated the media

    Utter and unmitigated bollocks.

    The media have no need to be taken over by any kind of extremist to go all hysterical over nothing - its been doing that for over a century without any kind of external influence.

    Blaming extremists is all nice and good, but what do you do when you've finished nailing them all to the wall and shooting them dead, only to discover that the press is as hysterical as it was before ?

    Oh yeah, I forgot : you invent another exterior threat.

    Stupid me, I always think that solutions should be applied to problems, not to urban myths. That must be why I'm not a manager.

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