from left to right: Lou Rinaldi, MPP for Northumberland-Quinte West, Kim Rudd, MP for Northumberland-Peterborough South, Dale Clark, Cameco Vice President of Fuel Services, Richard Wiens, Nordion Director of Strategic Supply, John Peevers, Bruce Power Manager Investor & Media Relations and Gil Brocanier Mayor of Cobourg commemorate the agreement between Cameco, Bruce Power and Nordion to produce cobalt-60.

Image & Article: Bill Hornbostel

It was announced recently that Cameco is partnering with Bruce Power and Nordion to supply a worldwide need for the Cobalt-60 medical isotope. Cobalt-60 is a radioactive variant of the mineral cobalt that is critical for sterilizing medical equipment and treating cancer.

Canada is one of the leading suppliers of cobalt-60 to the world. The National Research Universal (NRU) reactor in Chalk River Ontario produces most of the cobalt-60. But the reactor at Chalk River is about to close in March 2018 raising the possibility of a worldwide shortage of the material.

Cameco, Bruce Power and Nordion have stepped in to meet the need for the isotope.

Cameco fabricates non-radioactive cobalt “pencils” and the specialized containers for them. Bruce Power inserts the cobalt pencils into its CANDU nuclear reactors which after two to three years are removed. Nordion then manufactures the final product and distributes it around the world. “This is the only supply chain of cobalt-60 of this kind in the world,” says Richard Wiens, Director of Strategic Supply at Nordion.

The technology used in the production and use of cobalt-60 originated in Canada. Canadian researchers and doctors developed cobalt therapy for cancer and administered the first treatment in London, Ontario in 1951. Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL) designed the CANDU reactors used by Bruce Power. With the production and distribution of cobalt-60 by the joint efforts of the three companies, Canada continues to be on the cutting edge of nuclear science and nuclear medicine.

“It’s a real Canadian success story,” says John Peevers, Manager of Investor and Media Relations at Bruce Power.

Kim Rudd, MP for Northumberland-Peterborough South and Parliamentary Secretary for the Minister of Natural Resources, says, “The nuclear industry is critical to many of our national priorities: innovation, creating new opportunities and supporting Canada in its transition to a low-carbon economy.”

Dale Clark, Vice President of Fuel Services at Cameco, says, “The successful collaboration between our companies demonstrates the tremendous benefits the nuclear industry delivers to Canadians and others around the world while securing important reactor components work here in Cobourg.

Gil Brocanier Mayor of Cobourg added, “This partnership between Cameco, Bruce Power, and Nordion is great news for the medical community as well as for our community.”