OPG harvests life-saving medical isotope at Pickering Nuclear

·2 min read

About half the world's Cobalt-60 comes from Ontario's nuclear plants

PICKERING, ON, Oct. 26, 2021 /CNW/ - Ontario Power Generation (OPG) has successfully completed another harvest of Cobalt-60 (Co-60) at the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station, continuing a decades-long program of producing this life-saving medical isotope.

Cobalt-60 isotopes in a flask in the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station spent fuel bay. (CNW Group/Ontario Power Generation Inc.)
Cobalt-60 isotopes in a flask in the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station spent fuel bay. (CNW Group/Ontario Power Generation Inc.)

Co-60 is used in medical radiotherapy, such as in treating cancer. About 40 per cent of the world's single-use medical devices, such as syringes, gloves, implants, and surgical instruments, are sterilized with Co-60.

Once harvested, the isotope is loaded into flasks and shipped to Nordion, a health-sciences company in Ottawa, where it is manufactured into a finished product and shipped for use around the world. The Pickering station has been an integral part of Nordion's Co-60 supply for decades, contributing to the health and well-being of millions of people worldwide.

OPG is expanding its production of Co-60 to Darlington Nuclear Generating Station. Implementing Co-60 production at Darlington Nuclear after Pickering Nuclear ceases operations will replace Pickering Nuclear's capacity and provide increased production to meet global demand.

Quick Facts

  • The isotope extracted from a single Pickering reactor every 24 to 30 months can yield enough Co-60 to sterilize approximately 3.5 billion syringes per harvest.

  • With three Pickering reactors equipped to produce Co-60, there are one to two harvests per year.

  • Learn more about OPG and medical isotopes.

Quotes
"We are proud of our long history of supplying medical isotopes to the entire world from the Pickering plant – and this latest harvest of Cobalt-60 is especially needed amid the current global pandemic, for crucial uses including sterilization of gloves and testing swabs," said Dominique Minière, OPG's Executive Vice President, New Nuclear Domestic and International Strategy. "OPG has a vital role to play in global health care, given that Ontario's CANDU reactors produce 50 per cent of the world's supply of Cobalt-60."

About OPG
As a global climate change leader and the largest, most diverse electricity generator in the province, OPG and its family of companies are helping lead the charge to a post-carbon economy.

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Pickering Nuclear Generating Station workers prepare Cobalt-60 isotopes to deliver to Nordion after a harvest. (CNW Group/Ontario Power Generation Inc.)
Pickering Nuclear Generating Station workers prepare Cobalt-60 isotopes to deliver to Nordion after a harvest. (CNW Group/Ontario Power Generation Inc.)

SOURCE Ontario Power Generation Inc.

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