Radioisotopes have been in consistent use in medicine for the last 100 years to improve imaging modalities, sterilize surgical tools, and as a treatment option when attacking tumors. If you think that by now we would have a stable supply of radioisotopes, think otherwise. Due to the nature of the regulatory environment surrounding the nuclear industry, the global supply of radioisotopes has been dwindling with respect to demand. A deal between nuclear industry giants coupled with a new regulatory approval is leading to an established nuclear power plant to begin supplying cobalt-60 for medical applications.
From a GE announcement:
Now GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy — the global nuclear alliance created by the two companies in 2007 — and Exelon Generation Company have entered into a landmark partnership that will help meet growing global demand for the critical radioisotope cobalt-60, which is used in millions of cancer treatments each year.
Regulators have approved the use of GEH technology at Exelon Nuclear’s Clinton Power Station in Dewitt County, Ill. By using Exelon’s existing power-generating reactors, it eliminates the need and costs associated with building new research reactors.
Press release: GE inks nuclear deal for cancer-treatment isotopes…