This week, Nordion will be processing and shipping the latest harvest of the critical isotope Cobalt-60 from Bruce Power’s Unit 6 reactor. Cobalt-60 is used in Gamma irradiation to sterilize medical devices needed to help in the fight against COVID-19 around the world.
Gamma irradiation ensures that the medical equipment and supplies – surgical gloves, syringes, and COVID-19 test kits used by front-line medical professionals to treat patients – are sterilized, clean and safe for use. Gamma irradiation is one of the most effective methods for sterilizing this equipment quickly and in large volumes.
Most of the world’s Cobalt-60 comes from Ontario’s nuclear facilities, operated by Bruce Power and Ontario Power Generation (OPG), which provide supply to Ottawa-based Nordion to process and distribute around the world.
“Nuclear power plays a critical role in two key areas of health care – it ensures that power continues to flow to operating rooms and life-saving equipment; but it also provides a reliable source of Cobalt-60 for sterilization and life-saving medical procedures,” said Mike Rencheck, President and CEO of Bruce Power. ”These functions have become even more important during this crisis.”
Greg Rickford, Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines, praised the collaboration between Bruce Power and Nordion which will ensure continued production of this key medical isotope and will benefit people in Ontario and around the world. Rickford called it a shining example of the innovation of the province’s businesses benefitting the global health care community.
“As the COVID-19 pandemic unfolds, Ontario businesses are stepping up and playing a critical role in helping meet the demands of our health care sector,” said Minister Rickford. “The world depends on Ontario-produced Cobalt-60 to stay healthy and safe. I am proud of the leadership Ontario-based companies are taking in this critical fight against COVID-19.”
Ontario’s reliable supply of Cobalt-60 will be crucial in the weeks and months ahead as hospitals around the world require increased access to sterile medical equipment and supplies in their fight against the pandemic. Health care systems will be under significant pressure, and a stable supply of Cobalt-60 is something they can count on from Ontario and Bruce Power.
Given the high demand for single-use medical equipment during the current COVID crisis, the need for irradiation has increased. Other sterilization methods take up to seven days before products are available for use, creating a challenge when sterile materials are required quickly and in large volume. Gamma irradiation technology can process such materials within a day.
In China, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology indicated that during the peak of their response to COVID-19, the use of irradiation was increased to ensure that higher volumes of protective clothing could be provided to the front lines as quickly as possible. An estimated 100,000 pieces of protective clothing are now being processed daily – a significant uptick in volume that will save lives.
“Cobalt-60 is critical to our mission of Safeguarding Global Health. Our partnership with Bruce Power will ensure that we meet growing global demand for this critical isotope as the world battles the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Kevin Brooks, President of Nordion. “Our company has been shipping Co-60 sources to customers around the world safely and efficiently for over 50 years, and our proven distribution system is needed to support front-line workers now more than ever.”
Associate Minister of Energy and MPP for Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound, Bill Walker spoke about the importance of community support in the fight against COVID-19.
“I applaud Bruce Power for their leadership in our local communities in this battle and the partnership with Nordion which allows a product made in rural Southwestern Ontario to tackle this crisis on a global scale,” Walker said.
You can learn more about how Bruce Power is helping to keep hospitals safe, and also diagnosing and treating cancer, in this video or by going to www.brucepower.com/isotopes-and-medical-innovation/.
About Bruce Power
Formed in 2001, Bruce Power is an electricity company based in Bruce County, Ontario. We are powered by our people. Our 4,200 employees are the foundation of our accomplishments and are proud of the role they play in safely delivering clean, reliable, low-cost nuclear power to families and businesses across the province. Bruce Power has worked hard to build strong roots in Ontario and is committed to protecting the environment and supporting the communities in which we live. Learn more at www.brucepower.com and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and YouTube.
Nordion, a Sotera Health company, is a leading provider of medical gamma technologies used for the prevention and treatment of disease and infection. Nordion’s products are used daily by pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, medical-device manufacturers, hospitals, clinics and research laboratories. Nordion supplies products to more than 40 countries around the world, and is committed to their mission, Safeguarding Global Health™ with every critical isotope they supply. Learn more at www.nordion.com.