Bruce Power harvests cobalt-60 for medical equipment sterilization

Crew members at the Bruce B generating station stand with the final shipment of Cobalt-60, which has been sent to Ottawa for Nordion to use in processing medical isotope used in the sterilization of medical equipment.

Bruce Power has completed its final shipments of Cobalt-60 for the first half of 2020, a medical isotope that is even more critical at this time.

Cobalt 60 used in the sterilization of medical equipment, and for the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. Access to Cobalt-60 has taken on a great urgency with the COVID-19 outbreak because of its effectiveness and reliability in sterilizing drapes, gowns, surgical gloves, scalpels and other single-use medical devices cleaned by radiation sterilization.

Nordion, an Ottawa-based company, will process the Cobalt-60 and distribute it to medical facilities across Canada and throughout the rest of the world.

Twenty-four cobalt rods from Unit 6 at the Bruce B generating station, including four bundles of medical-grade Cobalt-60, were involved in the February harvest.

“In a critical time for hospitals, clinics and other health-care facilities around the world, we can provide support the doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists and other front-line health-care workers with the production of Cobalt-60,” said James Scongack, Executive Vice-President, Corporate Affairs and Operational Services. “The employees involved in harvesting Cobalt-60 from our nuclear reactors take tremendous pride in knowing that the work they’re doing is helping people here at home and in many other countries.”

“Bruce Power is proud of the work it’s doing with Nordion and other partners in the production of medical isotopes. Canada is a leader among the international health-care community because of this collaboration, and that’s being reinforced at an extraordinary time as the world faces the COVID-19 pandemic,” Scongack.

Cobalt-60 helps to sterilize 40 percent of the world’s medical devices, and treat complex forms of cancer – including brain tumours – through non-invasive procedures.

“Thanks to the outstanding efforts of our workers on Unit 6, which is the first unit to undergo Major Component Replacement, we are saving lives today and extending the lives of our units for decades which means we can continue to produce life-saving medical isotopes until 2064,” said Scongack, who is also the Chair of the Canadian Nuclear Isotope Council.