The agreement with the Research Institute of Atomic Reactors means that Molybdenum-99, commonly referred to as Mo-99, would be produced by RIAR’s reactors in Dimtrovgrad, Russia.
Nordion says that it expects the agreement could “potentially meet a portion of Nordion’s long-term supply requirements,” according to a company release published Monday.
On Friday, Nordion ended an agreement with The Open Joint Stock Company Isotope, which is a subsidiary of Russia’s State Atomic Energy Corp. Rosatom.
Nordion and that subsidiary jointly agreed that their current Mo-99 supply agreement structure was “no longer appropriate,” and terminated that agreement effective Oct. 26.
The volume of Mo-99 expected to be supplied by RIAR is anticipated to be “significantly lower” compared to the original agreement Nordion had with Isotope, the release stated.
The new agreement, however, is expected to better fit current production capabilities and market dynamics.
“These supply discussions directly with RIAR provide an important opportunity for Nordion and our customers,” stated Nordion CEO Steve West. “This negotiation comes at a time when our customers, and in turn the nuclear medicine community, are looking for greater stability and long-term reliability in their supply network.”
A 2010 framework agreement with Isotope, to explore and define areas to collaborate on the supply, marketing and sale of isotopes produced in Russia is expected to remain in effect, according to the release.
RIAR is one of the largest nuclear scientific and research institutions in the world, according to the release. Its facility includes six nuclear research reactors, as well as a nuclear fuel research complex, radiochemical unit and radioactive waste management complex.
Currently, Nordion obtains most of its medical isotopes through Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd., which owns and manages the National Research Universal reactor that has been in service since 1957. The NRU, located in Chalk River, has seen multiple scheduled shutdowns for maintenance as it ages.
To address long-term supply security, Nordion and AECL entered a contractual agreement in 1996 that committed AECL to construct and deliver two new nuclear reactors and a processing facility known as the Maple project, to replace the aging NRU reactor.
The project was cancelled in 2008, however, and Nordion began a three-year battle with AECL and the federal government, arguing that a flaw in the design was “manageable.” An arbitrator ruled against Nordion on Sept. 10, which led Nordion to suspend its quarterly dividend payments and halt a share buy-back program, resulting in a 36 per cent plunge in Nordion stocks.
Those stocks rose by three per cent soon after when the company announced that its primary customer, Lantheus Medical Imaging Inc., had extended its deal with Nordion until 2015.
Nordion is a global health science company that provides products used for the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of disease.
The company’s website states that it continues to take a multi-source approach to isotope supply, and continues to work to assess and develop other supplemental and long-term sources of Mo-99 from both reactor and non-reactor projects.