Bruce Power harvests more Cobalt-60

Harvested Cobalt-60 to be used to sterilize key medical equipment worldwide. (Photo provided by Steve McAllister, Communications Specialist, Corporate Affairs, Bruce Power)

Bruce Power has completed another harvest of Cobalt-60, which is used in sterilizing billions of pieces of medical equipment used by frontline health care workers. The medical isotopes were harvested during the ongoing Unit 7 outage and sent to Ottawa-based Nordion for processing.

From there, the material will be shipped around the world to sterilize up to 10 billion pairs of surgical gloves and single-use medical devices. In fact, Bruce Power reported Cobalt-60 sterilizes 40 per cent of the world’s single-use medical equipment, and is also used in the treatment of breast cancer and brain tumours.

Bruce Power said it has been an important tool during the pandemic, ensuring personal protective equipment supplies are efficiently prepared for frontline health care workers and hospitals.

The Unit 7 outage is part of the ongoing Life-Extension Program at Bruce Power.

“I would like to thank Bruce Power for providing this vital resource to the global medical community, which will be used in the fight against COVID-19 and in cancer treatments,” said Ontario Premier Doug Ford. “Canada, and specifically Ontario, is a world leader in the production and supply of medical isotopes, and ‘Made in Ontario’ life-saving medical isotopes will continue to be a strategic priority for the province.”

“For more than 35 years, Bruce Power has played a critical role in supporting the international health care community with this indispensable medical resource,” said Chad MacLean, Department Manager, Bruce Power Operations. “Bruce Power’s medical isotopes are vital in both tried-and-true sterilization technologies and in novel, groundbreaking nuclear medicine applications in the  fight against cancer. Bruce Power and our employees are proud of the role we play in Canada’s robust isotope supply chain, providing a stable supply of Cobalt-60 to the world’s medical community.”

More recently, Cobalt-60 has been used in Gamma Knife treatments in the fight against breast cancer and brain tumours.

“We all know someone who has been affected by cancer, and as doctors and researchers continue to search for new ways to fight cancer, Cobalt-60 has been turned to as a way to treat patients in a non-invasive way, without surgery,” said Brad Jones, Nuclear Operator, Bruce Power. “Gamma Knife technology using Cobalt-60 is used in more than 600 hospitals around the world, including five units in Canada, and the applications and use of this technology grows every year, which is exciting to see.”