Radiation Applications

Netherlands / NRG Announces Restart Of Petten Research Reactor

By David Dalton
17 March 2022

Deliveries of crucial medical radioisotopes to resume ‘within two weeks’
NRG Announces Restart Of Petten Research Reactor
The reactor has been offline since January because of a technical failure in the cooling system. Courtesy NRG.
The operator of the high-flux research reactor at Petten in the Netherlands restarted the plant at 11:00 on Thursday and said it expected the resumption of deliveries of crucial medical radioisotopes to hospitals within two weeks.

NRG, which operates the facility on behalf of its owner, the European Union’s Joint Research Centre, said the plant had reached power output of 45 MW.

NRG said in January that operators discovered a technical failure in the HFR’s cooling system during startup preparations for the plant, but there was no risk to staff or environment.

In February NRG said the origin of the technical failure had been identified, root cause analysis had been performed and would be submitted to ANVS.

The HFR is a major supplier of crucial medical radioisotopes used in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer and other conditions. While it has been offline other research reactors – including Maria in Poland and BR2 in Belgium – have increased production to compensate.

Globally, radioisotopes are produced in a limited number of research reactors. The Petten HFR has for a long time supplied about 60% of Europe’s and 30% of the world’s use of medical radioactive sources. Some 30,000 patients every day are treated with medical isotopes from the Netherlands.

In 2012, the Dutch government and the province of Noord-Holland decided that the HFR, which is 60 years old, should be replaced by a new reactor called Pallas to ensure the supply of medical radioisotopes and the continuation of nuclear research.

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