Thursday 23 September 2021

Private finance steers clear of Petten medical isotope project

Photo: Svdmolen via Wikimedia Commons

Attempts to find private financing to build a new nuclear reactor in the Netherlands for the production of medical isotopes have failed, health minister Tamara van Ark has told MPs.

The minister said that ‘at this moment’ she sees no option to secure private financing for the Pallas project, which was the government’s intention.

The current reactor at Petten in Noord Holland is 60 years old and now reaching the end of its life.

Petten produces 30% of the global supplies and 70% of European supplies of medical isotopes, which are used in the treatment of cancer and other serious diseases.

The Dutch government decided in 2012 that the current reactor should be replaced and preparations for the new reactor, known as Pallas, are now underway.

The government has so far invested €148m in the project and extended a further €18m credit guarantee to the project while a financial decision is taken about what to do next.

‘The additional loan enables Pallas to continue working on finalising the basic design of the reactor, applying for various permits and preparing for construction,’ the organisation said.

One option, Van Ark said, may be offered by American company Shine which is working on a new method of producing medical isotopes and is also considering setting up a production location in Groningen. However, that is likely to be some years off.

Van Ark said she hopes that a decision can be taken in spring 2021.

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