Tag Archives: Nordion


New partnerships mean more medical isotope production

Image of Westinghouse and Nordion executives signing a letter of intent.
Westinghouse and Nordion signed a letter of intent to develop innovative isotope production technology that will allow cobalt-60 to be produced in pressurized water reactors.

According to the Canadian Nuclear Isotope Council, the global isotope market was estimated to be US$9.6 billion. It is projected to grow to more than US$17.1 billion by 2023. Canada’s position in that market recently got stronger with two new partnership agreements.

Framatome and Kinectrics Launch Joint Venture to Produce Medical Isotopes for Lifesaving Cancer Treatment

At CNA2020 on Feb. 28, Framatome and Kinectrics announced the launch of Isogen. The joint venture will provide and support isotope production systems for Bruce Power’s nuclear reactors to begin the production of lutetium-177.

Lutetium-177 is used as a gamma emitter for imaging. It is also a beta emitter used for targeted radiotherapy for the treatment of a growing number of cancers, including prostate cancer, neuroendocrine tumours and bone metastases.

“We are proud to have established a new Ontario-based company, Isogen, with our partner, Framatome,” said David Harris, Kinectrics president and CEO. “Together, we will work with Bruce Power to produce life-saving medical isotopes, specifically lutetium-177, which will help to advance the global fight against cancer.”

“Partnering with Kinectrics to launch Isogen marks our commitment to advance isotope development as we continue to work with the team at Bruce Power in the fight against cancer,” said Bernard Fontana, CEO at Framatome. “Together, we are working with Bruce Power to maximize existing infrastructure, already known for producing reliable, low-carbon electricity, and making important, life-saving medical treatments available to patients around the world.”

The partnership will leverage the scale, redundancy and longevity of the eight-unit facility to anchor a new, global supply of isotopes. Following regulatory and other approvals, the plan is to begin isotope production in 2022. The goal is to allow scaling based on demands for lutetium-177 and other isotopes.

“As home to Ontario’s largest private-sector infrastructure project, we are not only extending our assets to provide low-cost, clean electricity for our families and business but are also ensuring that we are playing a leadership role in providing the global health community with access to isotopes that are critical to a modern health-care system and in the fight against cancer,” said Michael Rencheck, president and CEO of Bruce Power.

Westinghouse Partners with Nordion to Increase Future Supply of Life-Saving Cobalt-60

Two days before the Isogen announcement, Westinghouse Electric Company and Nordion (Canada) Inc. announced they signed a letter of intent to develop innovative isotope production technology that will allow cobalt-60 to be produced in pressurized water reactors (PWRs).

Cobalt-60 is the most common radioisotope used in radiation therapy. Hospitals also use cobalt-60 to sterilize medical equipment, such as gowns, gloves, masks, syringes and implants.

“Westinghouse, a leader in nuclear technology throughout the world, brings a strong set of operational experience, engineering skills and a robust safety culture to this collaboration. We look forward to contributing to the health and well-being of people around the world,” said Patrick Fragman, president and CEO of Westinghouse.

“This partnership will substantially expand future supply options for life-saving cobalt-60,” said Kevin Brooks, president of Nordion, a leading supplier of cobalt-60 globally. “Cobalt-60 is critical to our mission of Safeguarding Global Health, and we continue to invest heavily in maintaining a reliable, long-term supply.”

According to the World Nuclear Association, almost all the world’s supply of the radioisotope is produced in Candu reactors, mostly in Canada.

Expanding production to PWRs — of which there are nearly 100 in North America alone — will strengthen the diversity of the global supply chain.


Canada 150: Nuclear Science and Your Health

When it comes to health care and medicine, nuclear science had made numerous accomplishments that have improved the lives of millions of people around the world. As Canada celebrates 150 years, we wanted to look back at some of our achievements.

In the late 1800s Dr. Harriet Brooks, Canada’s first nuclear physicist, discovered radon while at McGill University and worked in the lab of Dr. Marie Curie. Her work laid the foundation for nuclear physics and paved a pathway forward for women like Sylvia Fedoruk.

In the mid-1950s, Fedoruk and a team of researchers under the guidance of Dr. Harold Johns, became one of the first groups in Canada (the other was a team from London, Ontario) to successfully treat a cancer patient with cobalt-60 radiation therapy. Today, it is estimated that over 70 million people around the world have benefited from this treatment and cobalt-60 machines are still in use today.

The benefits and applications of cobalt-60 extend far beyond cancer treatments. The ability of cobalt-60 to effectively kill off even the tiniest of potentially harmful microbes makes it the perfect sterilization tool for medical equipment like gloves, gowns, IV bags, syringes and catheters. Medical-grade cobalt or High Specific Activity (HSA) cobalt-60, like the kind used by Feodurk and others, has been a foundation for cancer treatment for over 60 years. A recent partnership between Nordion and Bruce Power will ensure that cobalt-60 continues to be readily available for years to come.

Pioneers in medical isotopes over half a century ago, Canada led the world in the supply of isotopes, contributing to the betterment of global health. Used for the diagnosis and treatment of various diseases and illnesses such as imaging of the brain, lungs, heart and kidney, isotopes have been a key component to the health-care system have helped millions of people every year. The importance of isotopes is increasing. According to a recent report, the global market for nuclear diagnostic medicine is expected to double by 2020. Globally, over 40 million nuclear medicine procedures are performed every year.

Today, in the halls at TRIUMF in Vancouver, scientists are working on the next wave of cancer treatments through the exploration of alpha therapies. Through a targeted approach, cancer cells are blasted from the inside out, minimizing damage to healthy tissues. These alpha-emitting isotopes are thought to be especially effective for dealing with late-state or metastasized cancers (cancer that has spread from one part of the body to another).

In order to develop the necessary tools to diagnose and treat patients, an understanding of how our body functions at the cellular level is key. The community of St. Catharines, Ontario is home to Brock University.  There groups of scientists are looking to unlock the answers to some of the world’s most pressing health challenges by figuring out how our body works by peering inside our cells. Using a neutron beam and a very high-resolution microscope, you can look inside the tissues of cells without doing any damage. Thad Harroun is an Associate Professor at Brock University. He came to Canada in 2003 to work at the Canadian Neutron Beam Centre and has worked on numerous experiments to better understand the interactions inside our bodies. One of his recent projects involves a better understanding of cholesterol.

“We want to know how proteins in our cells interact with cholesterol and fats and we are looking to see how cholesterol supports cell membranes,” he said.

Once thought to be the enemy of our arteries, new research has highlighted the importance of cholesterol to both cellular and lung health. Harroun’s work has also explored the importance of Vitamin E to cellular health.

Leading edge cancer treatments today include Gamma Knife Radiosurgery. Contrary to its name (the procedure isn’t surgery and doesn’t involve a knife) beams of radiation, two-hundred in total, converge on cancerous cells to more effectively kill tumors while protecting surrounding healthy tissues and provides new hope for those dealing with brain tumors and lesions.

Our history with nuclear medicine is a storied and varied. As Canada marks its 150th birthday there are many reasons to be proud of our many achievements that will continue to benefit the lives of people around the world for generations to come.


The Nuclear Connection to Combating the Zika Virus

A team of experts at the IAEA is launching a new fight against Zika and it’s totally nuclear.

It’s an astonishing fact. One million people have already been affected by the Zika virus, a number that could quadruple by the end of this year.


The World Health Organization (WHO) issued a global emergency on the virus and recent reports indicated that it has spread its way into North America. Reports of over 100 cases have already surfaced in the United States.

The Zika virus is not new. It was first discovered in Uganda back in the 1940s and is named after the forest in which it was found. The virus is spread through a mosquito known as Aedes aegypti.

Symptoms can include mild fevers, skin rashes, joint pain and headaches. But far worse, the virus has been linked to brain damage in babies and, according to French researchers, can also lead to brain infections in adults.

The procedure is called the sterile insect technique (SIT) and it’s been around for over 50 years. Very effective in addressing insect pests, the technique requires using a small dose of radiation to make insects infertile. It has been proven successful in other pest insects, suppressing or eradicating them all together. However, this will be first time that the SIT technique will be applied to fight human disease.

“Think of it as a method of birth control. We produce sterile male mosquitos using radiation that sterilizes the sperm in the male mosquito,” says Rosemary Lees, a medical entomologist with the IAEA. “When we release a large number of these males we flood a region with sterile males so that the wild females are more likely to mate with them.”

Since female mosquitos usually only mate once, mating with infertile males would stop the further reproduction of Aedes mosquitos.

The SIT technique relies on something known as Cobalt-60, a radioactive isotope that is currently used to sterilize 40 per cent of the world’s medical devices. In Canada Cobalt-60 is harvested from Bruce Power and processed by Nordion.

“Cobalt-60 from our reactors already plays a major role in keeping single-use medical equipment safely sterilized, and with it now helping to stop the spread of diseases like Zika virus the world’s population continues to benefit from it,” said James Scongack, Vice President, Corporate Affairs, Bruce Power. “We look forward to working with Nordion to continue safely harvesting Cobalt-60 during our planned maintenance outages so it can help prevent disease across the world.”

The second half of the program involves understanding the wild mosquito environment through trapping mosquitos. The idea is that if researchers know how many wild mosquitoes there are, they will know how many to release. The hope is that if enough wild mosquitos are trapped and sterile ones breed, that the spread of the virus will cease.

“We are trying to remove the vector. Think of Zika transmission as a triangle. People, virus and the mosquito. By removing one of the three you can stop the transmission,” according to Jeremie Gilles, head of the mosquito group with the IAEA.

The WHO has declared the Zika virus a public health emergency and has advised all pregnant women to avoid affected areas. This is only the fourth time in history that this has happened since International Heath Regulations (IHR) came into place in 2007.

The work being done at the IAEA through the use of nuclear technology may be able to stop the spread of what could soon be a global pandemic in its tracks.

Guest Blog Nuclear Medicine

The Medical Isotopes Supply Chain

Today’s post comes from guest contributor at Nordion.

Nuclear medicine is one of the most powerful analytical tools available to physicians and patients today because of its ability to provide dynamic views of organ structure and function. Medical isotopes are used to diagnose potentially life-threatening conditions such as heart disease and to treat serious diseases such as cancer.

About one million nuclear medicine procedures are performed in Canada annually. In the U.S., there are some 18 million nuclear medicine procedures per year among 311 million people, and in Europe about 10 million among 500 million people. Canada has been one of the global leaders in the supply of medical isotopes to the world’s medical community. Tc-99m is used in about 80% of all diagnostic nuclear imaging procedures.

Medical isotopes have a short shelf life and therefore cannot be inventoried. Before they can be used in patient procedures, the materials used in nuclear medicine are developed through a multi-step supply chain process.

This graphic summarizes the process.


Watch this video to understand how medical isotopes make their complex (but necessarily quick) journey, from reactor to patient:



CNA2012 Update – The Future of Nuclear is Here

The future of nuclear technology and innovation in Canada is HERE!

2012 Canadian Nuclear Association Conference and Trade Show
Leadership Through Innovation

February 22-24, 2012, in Ottawa.

Patrick Lamarre, President, SNC-Lavalin

Get the inside track on SNC-Lavalin’s acquisition of AECL’s commercial reactor business and what it means for nuclear innovation in Canada. SNC-Lavalin President, Patrick Lamarre speaks on Friday February 24 at the 2012 CNA Conference.

Join hundreds of your colleagues and contemporaries for our three-day networking and professional development conference.

Click here to REGISTER NOW

Steve West, CEO, Nordion

Nuclear medicine was pioneered in Canada. Find out how innovations being made today at Nordion will take nuclear medicine to the next level over the coming decade. Nordion CEO, Steve West, speaks on Friday February 24 at the 2012 CNA Conference.

The full 2012 CNA Conference program includes keynote speakers, panels, Canadian and global nuclear industry updates and more!

Download the 2012 CNA Conference Agenda here

Click here to REGISTER NOW

See you in February!

Thank you to our 2012 SPONSORS

Messages Nuclear Energy Nuclear Medicine Nuclear R&D

Nuclear Industry Update: Denise Carpenter Speaks at Nordion Reception

On June 12, Denise Carpenter, President and CEO of the Canadian Nuclear Association addressed the Nordion VIP Reception in advance of the 16th International Meeting on Radiation Processing. Here’s what she had to say:

President & CEO of the CNA – Denise Carpenter

Thank-you very much for inviting me here today to speak with you at Nordion’s VIP reception.

I truly enjoy taking the opportunity to talk about Canada’s nuclear industry, but am particularly honoured to be here today at the kick-off event for the International Meeting on Radiation Processing here in Montreal.

I had the pleasure this morning of touring The Canadian Irradiation Centre, which is part of Nordion’s commitment to gamma processing. The Centre offers a range of irradiation services including training, testing and development and is truly a testament to the sophistication of the industry and the advancements that have been made.

I often refer to Canada’s nuclear community as a village – we all make one another stronger and together build the infrastructure for a more vibrant and stable future.

Nordion and its global partners are village leaders in this respect. I am a firm believer that health is the most important resource we have and the most essential component of a community.

Quite simply, the Cobalt-60 and related technologies and services your organizations provide or use on a daily basis, prevent disease and infections worldwide.

Without the cohesive global network of highly skilled organizations that are here with us today including the US, Europe, China and South America, this simply would not be possible.

If I can take it one step further, your industries are truly where science and business connect.

Denise at Nordion VIP Reception June 12
Denise Carpenter speaking at Nordion’s IMRP VIP Reception

But before I get into specifics, I would like to tell you a bit more about the Canadian Nuclear Association and what it is we do.

The CNA represent over 95 members from the entire spectrum of the nuclear industry – electricity producers, manufacturers, uranium mining and fuel processing, engineering and universities and labour unions.

As an association, our work includes being active with governments and encouraging all levels to recognize the value our industry brings to Canada: a clean energy source, the creation of highly skilled jobs across several sectors, and revolutions in nuclear medicine. The list goes on.

And I am proud to say that we have a strong Canadian legacy of innovation and leadership in the nuclear industry.
From our early days at Chalk River to today, our industry is responsible for developing innovative new products and services that have improved the quality of life of Canadians and people around the globe.

  • We invented CANDU technology.
  • We have created a world-leading uranium industry.
  • We have achieved a record of safe, reliable and affordable nuclear power generation.
  • In fact, nuclear energy is responsible for 15% of Canada’s electricity production and for over 55% of Ontario’s alone.

Despite many inroads, our industry has also faced many challenges in the past year.

Recently, the nuclear industry was challenged by the tragic incident at the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan.

Our industry, which supports more than 71,000 Canadian jobs, has been working tirelessly to help our Japanese counterparts and derive any lessons learned to improve upon our own safety here in Canada, as we always do.

Safety has always been – and continues to be – the number one priority for our industry. The nuclear safety culture goes beyond geographical boundaries. It is truly global.

While this was a major shock to our industry, it is not a setback. We continue to improve as our industry forges forward.

Since the tragedy in Japan, the Ontario Government has reaffirmed its commitment to the refurbishment of reactors as well as new builds.

These exciting projects will bring new revitalization to the Ontario and Canadian economies as well as our nuclear industry.

To give you some concrete numbers, an independent report released by the Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters stated that refurbishing nuclear facilities at Bruce and Darlington will support 25,000 jobs and inject $5 billion into the Ontario economy annually for a decade – with more than 15,000 jobs continuing thereafter.

In Western Canada, the Government of Saskatchewan recently announced a Centre for Research in Nuclear Medicine and Materials Science at the University of Saskatchewan.

The province is investing $30 million over seven years in the new centre, which will make Saskatchewan the focal point for nuclear research and development in Western Canada.

Our effort of continual improvement also includes enhanced communications with stakeholders, and all Canadians for that matter.

Last year, we conducted extensive research and learned that Canadians want to know how nuclear affects them, beyond simply keeping the lights on. We heard that they want to learn more about how nuclear plays a role in healthcare, and most importantly, how it’s keeping their families healthy.

We thought long and hard about how to communicate this message, and decided to take a multi-prong approach.

Later this month, we are launching an interactive microsite that virtually takes users through different scenarios to learn how nuclear is making Canada better.

A large focus of this site is how nuclear is improving health care in Canada and abroad, from sterilizing medical supplies and devices  to diagnosing and treating illnesses like cancer.

The site poses attention-grabbing questions to visitors, like

‘Did you know nuclear ensures critical medical devices are sterile?’

When the site launches later this month, I encourage you all to take a look and pass it along to your colleagues.

It of course will be an iterative process, and we welcome any recommendations or input you each may have.

We are also using social media as a platform to promote dialogue about our industry and its contribution to health, including our new TalkNuclear Facebook page, Twitter page and our TalkNuclear blog.

While we continue to move forward and leverage these communication platforms, uncertainties do remain such as the Government of Canada’s plans to privatize the commercial interests of Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL).

With a majority government now in place, we suspect this process will move along more quickly.

The path forward for the Chalk River Laboratories, Canada’s primary nuclear industry research and development infrastructure, will also be analyzed.

The CNA has developed a position paper on the need for re-investment in nuclear research and development infrastructure as essential to Canada’s future domestic and international competitiveness.

We are advocating for a small expert panel to review the status, potential, and governance of nuclear R&D in Canada.

We believe the Government should give thoughtful consideration to the future of the R&D side of the nuclear industry, regardless of the status of the AECL restructuring

As you all know, continued investment in nuclear, particularly R&D, is the strongest catalyst for our industry’s growth and successful future.

Nordion CEO Steve West. — Thanks for inviting us to speak at the reception, Steve


I want to thank you again for inviting me to be here this evening.

Our nuclear village is truly global and would not be possible without the strong networks I’ve seen tonight. Your global cooperation will continue to make our nuclear industry stronger and better.

On a day-to-day basis, it might be easy to forget what your work means to people worldwide. Your efforts go beyond the numbers and figures of business. You are in the business of improving lives and preventing disease, each and every day.

For that, we thank you.