Bruce Power completes Cobalt-60 harvest for worldwide use in the ongoing fight against COVID-19

Bruce Power has completed its second harvest of Cobalt-60 this year. The medical isotopes will now be processed and used to sterilize medical equipment in the fight against COVID-19. With the completion of this harvest, Bruce Power will have provided the world enough isotopes to sterilize between 20-25 billion pairs of gloves or COVID-19 swabs.

The isotope will be sent to Ottawa-based Nordion for processing and distribution over the next several weeks. From there, Bruce Power’s Cobalt-60 will be shipped around the world for use in Gamma irradiation to sterilize medical devices, such as single-use gowns, surgical gloves, scalpels, syringes and other critical health care equipment.  Cobalt-60 irradiation sterilizes equipment more quickly and in larger volumes than other forms of sterilization, ensuring more supplies can get out to the front-line health care workers and hospitals, even as demand for these items has increased.

“Bruce Power has always been proud of our role in supporting the global health care community, by providing life-saving medical isotopes around the world,” said Mike Rencheck, Bruce Power’s President and CEO. “This year, more than ever, the role Bruce Power plays in keeping our hospitals and healthcare workers safe has been front and centre. Canada is a leader in isotope production among the international health care community, and that’s being reinforced at this unprecedented time as the world continues to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Ontario’s reliable supply of Cobalt-60 has been critical through 2020 as health care systems were under significant pressure due to COVID-19. Due to high demand, the need for single-use medical equipment has increased. While other sterilization methods take up to seven days before products are available for use, Gamma irradiation technology can process such materials within a day. In fact, Bruce Power’s Cobalt-60 helps to sterilize 40 per cent of the world’s single-use medical equipment.

Lisa Thompson, MPP for Huron-Bruce and Minister of Government and Consumer Services, spoke on the importance of coming together in the fight against COVID-19.

“I applaud Bruce Power for its leadership in our communities in this battle against COVID-19, and for its continued safe operations throughout the pandemic in powering our homes and businesses,” said Minister Thompson. “Ontario businesses have always stepped up to the plate, and Bruce Power is a shining example of how an innovative company in southwestern Ontario can make a positive impact locally, provincially and globally.”

James Scongack, Chair of the Canadian Nuclear Isotope Council, said that Canada’s nuclear industry will continue to play an important role in the global health care system for the foreseeable future.

“Canada has shown the world that we are leaders when it comes to sustainable, reliable, and scalable isotope production,” said Scongack. “The knowledge and expertise held by Bruce Power and the province’s innovative nuclear industry in the area of medical isotopes will benefit people requiring health care both here at home and around the world. The world looks to Canada to continue its position as vanguards of isotope and nuclear innovation.”

The Cobalt-60 harvest announced today occurred during Bruce Power’s Unit 8 outage, a part of the ongoing Life-Extension Program at the site, which remains on time and on budget. In addition to the Cobalt-60 harvest, the outage will help ensure Bruce Power can provide reliable, carbon-free electricity and life-saving medical isotopes through 2064.

Learn more about how Bruce Power is helping to keep hospitals safe, and also diagnosing and treating cancer at 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.

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