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Reactor closure leaves cancer patients waiting

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The extended closure of a nuclear reactor in Canada has left thousands of cancer patients without treatment worldwide by causing a shortage of radioactive isotopes.

The National Research Universal (NRU) reactor at Chalk River laboratories in Ontario was shut down in mid-November for routine maintenance.

During this time, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission began to question the NRU’s electrical system and have extended its opening until mid-January.

The reactor generates isotopes which are used to treat 20 million cancer patients all over the world.

A Chalk River spokesperson said: 'The NRU Reactor was shut down for routine maintenance activities in mid November. During those activities, a question was raised by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission regarding an electrical system in NRU.

'In responding to that question AECL has extended the shutdown period. NRU is forecast to return to operation in mid-January.’

Isotopes can be used to destroy cancerous cells, injected to show cancerous areas in scans or be made into drugs to decay a tumour.

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