Tumour treatment isotope to be made at Bruce-8

05 September 2018

Bruce Power is set to place medical-grade cobalt into unit 8 of its nuclear power plant in Ontario, meaning all four Bruce B units will now produce high specific activity (HSA) cobalt, which is used to treat brain tumours worldwide.

Cobalt harvesting (Image: Bruce Power)

HSA cobalt is used as an alternative to traditional brain surgery and radiation therapy for the treatment of complex brain conditions through a specialised, non-invasive knife, which uses gamma radiation to focus 200 microscopic beams of radiation on a tumour or other target. It minimises damage to healthy tissue and lowers side-effects compared to traditional therapy in some cases.

Bruce Power-8 entered a planned maintenance inspection programme on 1 September, during which HSA cobalt rods will be installed.

“HSA cobalt is at the forefront of innovative new medical technologies, and we’re proud of the part we play in delivering this life-saving radiation therapy,” Mike Rencheck, Bruce Power’s president and CEO, said. “As a long-time supplier of cobalt-60, we have been helping to keep our hospitals safe for decades, and now, with production of HSA cobalt, we will have a greater impact on human health across the globe.”

The company said the milestone at unit 8, which it announced on 31 August, coincided with recognition of its role in the fight against childhood cancer at the opening of the Toronto Stock Exchange. Rencheck and James Scongack, vice president of Corporate Affairs & Environment, that day participated in the ceremonial activation of the market opening siren at the invitation of the Advocacy for Canadian Childhood Oncology Research Network (Ac2orn).

Neal Rourke, a member of Ac2orn, said Bruce Power was to be commended for the role it plays in providing isotopes used to treat childhood and adolescent cancer, and for the leadership shown in helping form the Canadian Nuclear Isotope Council, which is exploring further medical isotope development.

“More than 10,000 Canadian children 19 years of age and under have been diagnosed with cancer this decade, and childhood brain tumours have recently passed leukaemia as the deadliest form of childhood cancer in North America,” Rourke said.

The maintenance inspection programme on unit 8 is part of Bruce Power’s Life-Extension Program, which will allow the site to operate through to 2064.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News