On Friday Canada issued an announcement that it has scrapped plans for two new nuclear reactors that would have provided radioactive materials for medical tests.
Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL) said in a statement it "will discontinue development work of the MAPLE reactors located at its Chalk River Laboratories, effective immediately," citing soaring project costs and delays.
Advertisement"Our board of directors and senior management have concluded that it is no longer feasible to complete the commissioning and start-up of the reactors," said AECL president and chief executive Hugh MacDiarmid.
A spokesman for AECL, Dale Coffin, told AFP: "It was becoming clear to us that it was going to take longer to develop and the costs would be much higher than initially projected," declining to say how much it has cost already.
The decision to discontinue the already 10-year development of the two small reactors is not expected to impact the current supply of medical isotopes, he said.
To meet that demand, AECL said it would keep a 50-year-old National Research Universal reactor at the Chalk River facility operational, for now.
The National Research Universal reactor's operating license from the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission is valid until October 31, 2011, but Coffin said AECL will ask for the license to be renewed thereafter.
A temporary maintenance shutdown of the aging National Research Universal reactor last year sparked a worldwide shortage of medical isotopes, and led to the firing of Canada's nuclear safety chief.
According to reports, thousands of medical tests were postponed in Canada, the United States and other countries because of the isotopes shortage.
Medical isotopes are radioactive materials which are injected into patients to allow nuclear imaging equipment to produce detailed scans for diagnosing cancer and other diseases.
MDS Nordion, a unit of life sciences company MDS Inc., has an exclusive contract to supply AECL medical isotopes to hospitals and clinics around the world for molecular imaging, radiotherapeutics, and analytical instruments.
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