brucepowerlogo fullLife-saving Cobalt-60 has been safely harvested from Bruce Power’s Unit 5 during planned maintenance outage activities.

In a April 6 media release, the Cobalt-60 will now be processed by Ottawa-based Nordion and sent across the globe to sterilize 40 per cent of the world’s single-use medical devices. Upon completion of the harvest, new rods of Cobalt-59 (which becomes Cobalt-60 after up to two years in the nuclear reactor) were inserted into Unit 5, as were four rods containing medical-grade High Specific Activity (HSA) Cobalt, which is used to treat brain cancer.

HSA Cobalt is used worldwide for alternative treatments to traditional brain surgery and radiation therapy through a specialized, non-invasive knife. This innovative tool uses gamma radiation to focus 200 microscopic beams of radiation on a tumour or other target. Although each individual beam has little effect on the brain tissue surrounding the tumour, where the beam intersects, a strong dose of radiation is delivered to the site, minimizing damage to healthy tissue and lowering side effects compared to traditional therapy in some cases.

For over six decades, Nordion’s supply of medical-grade Cobalt has come primarily from the National Research Universal (NRU) reactors at Chalk River, Ontario. Recognizing the NRU reactor will reach its end-of-life in about a year, Bruce Power has stepped up to become a source of HSA for these life-saving operations.

“In less than two years, this HSA Cobalt will positively impact the lives of people across the world as they receive treatment for brain cancer,” said Len Clewett, Bruce Power’s Chief Nuclear Officer. “We have committed to harvesting Cobalt in our Bruce B reactors through to 2064, helping keep safe our most vulnerable citizens.”

The Unit 5 planned maintenance outage is part of Bruce Power’s Life-Extension Program, which will allow the site to operate through to 2064. The Life-Extension Program, which began January 1, 2016, remains on time and on budget, and includes the Major Component Replacement Project, which begins in Unit 6 in 2020 and will see major investment upgrades to Units 3-8 over nearly two decades.