World Wide Shortage of Isotopes Affects Saskatoon Health Region

The Saskatoon Health Region was forced to cancel 91 tests this week with a total of 167 patient scans cancelled thus far. As the world’s supply of radioisotopes is continuing to face a shortage, so will our health region. The shutdown of the Chalk River, Ontario reactor is the cause of the shortage. The shutdown is expected to last another 3 months at least and up to an entire year.

The Saskatoon Health Region received only 4 generators of radioactive isotopes this week, which is a small fraction compared to the usual 17.5 generators per week.

This shortage is forcing Canada to seek out deals with other isotope suppliers in South Africa and Australia. Luckily, Canada stepped up to the plate when the Petten reactor in the Netherlands was down and provided a significant amount of additional isotopes. There are isotope producing reactors in Canada, the Netherlands, South Africa, Argentina and Australia.

The nuclear reactor in Chalk River was shut down earlier this week after it started leaking radioactive heavy water. This particular reactor produces 80% of the isotopes for Canada’s needs and 40% of the world’s need for isotopes comes from Chalk River.

Isotopes produced here help 20 million people in 80 countries each year, but it is 52 years old and it is showing its age being the oldest reactor in the world.

Kari Calder
Saskatoon Real Estate Agent
Century 21 Conexus Realty Ltd.

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