Chalk River: Crisis ‘foreseeable and preventable’

UPDATE! I’m out of town and not blog-reading.  Here’s updated material from JimBobby and TGB which I read *after* I posted what’s below!

It becomes clearer, with each bit of information, that Parliament was seriously hoodwinked on the Chalk River issue by Harper. From the Inbox:

—- Original Message —–

From: Gordon Edwards
Sent: Friday, January 18, 2008 1:47 PM
Subject: Isotope suppliers could have met 250% of world market needs
Clarification on isotopes:
It is important to realize that technetium-99m is not used
for therapeutic purposes but for diagnostic purposes, so
it is completely untrue that “lives” were at risk during the
so-called Chalk River isotope crisis. In fact it was a major
inconvenience and upset hospital schedules considerably,
but it put no lives at risk. And in fact the inconvenience
was avoidable.
Frank von Hippel is a very careful and credible researcher.
In a 2006 article he said that 250% of world demand for
short-lived radioisotopes like molybdenum-99 (the source
material needed for making technetium-99m available) could
be met by the world’s isotope suppliers and that even
without Canada, 100% of demand could be met.
Thus all the talk about a “crisis” was actually foreseeable
and preventable. If AECL and Nordion had plainly informed
their customers that the MAPLE isotope-production reactors
were seven years behind schedule (because those reactors
were seriously flawed in both design and construction) and
that Canadian supply depended on a 50-year old geriatric NRU
reactor that was not up to modern safety standards, then the
customers could have arranged for other suppliers to be prepa-
red to take up the slack. Result: no crisis.

3 thoughts on “Chalk River: Crisis ‘foreseeable and preventable’

  1. Whooee! I figgered you musta been away somewheres or you’d o’ been jumpin’ on this quicker. Good find on the Princeton article, btw.

    Here’s a lie from today’s Globe:

    “Tamra Benjamin, a spokeswoman for MDS Nordion, said the company did have supply agreements with competitors in South Africa and Europe, but they simply do not produce enough isotopes to make up for the loss of the Chalk River reactor.”

    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20080206.wnuclear06/BNStory/National/home/

    Note that she says they have “supply agreements”. She doesn’t say anything about whether or not they exercised those agreements or even attempted to procure any alternative supplies.

    JB

  2. Gordon,
    I was quoting the Princeton study 250% of the world demand stuff, but I’ve now realized what’s happened since it was written.

    Gamma cameras are popping up like mushrooms.

    Canada:
    Jan 2006 72 eg Nova Scotia 0
    Jan 2007 139
    Dec 2007 245 as suggested Feb 12 by Min of Health Clement:
    “said his staff “communicated with 773 health care facilities across Canada, including 245 nuclear medicine facilities” some of which may actually now have more than one gamma camera, yikes, lotsa lotsa molycows, lotsa piss in the rivers — see note below)
    A handful of the nuclear med facilities may be adjacent to cyclotrons, but only a few.

    A few more points:

    Tc99m gives off the medically useful (?) gamma rays as it decays into Tc99, no “m”, which then emits beta particles for a half life of about 200,000 years. The experts say beta particles are no big deal if emitted several feet away from you. But they are very harmful if ingested, injected or inhaled.

    Proponents of Tc99m diagnostics mention the 6 hr half-life as if the stuff goes poof and is gone forever. No, it’s beta particles forever, pissed into rivers etc if the person tested has perfect kidneys…

    From the Sellafield reactor etc, Tc99 is the bane of the North Sea, lobsters, seaweed, fish and shellfish as far away as Norway. There was a huge fuss about this and then nothing. Greenpeace and another enviro org.

    Spotlight on LEU as fuel, worth knowing that the targets for bombarding are HEU.

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