SHINE to break ground on prototype

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Neil Johnson
Friday, July 28, 2017

JANESVILLE—SHINE Medical Technologies plans a ceremony next week to break ground on a building it has said would house a prototype to produce radioisotopes in Janesville.

The Aug. 3 ceremony at the project site just east of the Southern Wisconsin Regional Airport was announced by SHINE on Thursday.

The announcement came after the medical radioisotope startup earlier this month received a decision from federal nuclear authorities that licensing for its prototype could fall under state authority, based on the scope of the project.

SHINE said earlier this year it planned to break ground as early as July 2017 on the 11,500-square-foot building for the prototype.

SHINE plans to later build a 55,000-square-foot, full-scale medical radioisotope production facility on land just north of the prototype, but SHINE officials have said the smaller prototype facility is needed to lure financing for its full project.

SHINE CEO Greg Piefer said in June the prototype, among other things, would operate a particle accelerator to show potential investors SHINE's technology works.

The federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission registered a decision earlier this month that because of the small scale of the prototype and its intended use, the state, not the federal government, would have primary regulatory authority over the project.

A letter obtained by The Gazette that the NRC sent to SHINE and other federal agencies linked to SHINE's project explains that SHINE's planned prototype falls beneath the threshold of a “nuclear utilization” facility like the one outlined in SHINE's larger, Janesville production plant plan.

The NRC in 2016 after years of regulatory review of SHINE's plans and technology approved SHINE's plans to build a full-scale facility in Janesville.

SHINE's prototype would have a particle accelerator similar to accelerators in its full-scale production plant to extract mo-99 and other medical radioisotopes from low-enriched uranium.

Steve Lynch, the NRC's project manager for SHINE's larger project, wrote in an email to The Gazette that SHINE's proposed use of a prototype would amount to a lesser use of nuclear material, beneath the threshold of what regulators consider nuclear “critical mass.”

Lynch wrote that the NRC decided the prototype could be licensed by state authorities.

SHINE Vice President Katrina Pitas wrote in an email Thursday that SHINE needs to submit a request for licensing to operate a prototype accelerator at the facility, but the company will build the facility "whether or not the NRC or state issue a license."

The facility "will have many uses beyond the integrated prototype," Pitas wrote.

Under a timeline Piefer gave in June, the prototype facility would likely be in operation by 2018. SHINE could break ground on its full-scale facility in mid-2018 and have it up and running by “mid-2020," he said.

The prototype is being paid for by SHINE, the company said. The city under an amendment to a tax incentive package it gave SHINE earlier, has agreed to pay SHINE $1.5 million to at some point relocate the prototype facility closer to SHINE's full project area.

SHINE has until December 2022 to complete its full-scale project under its federal permit.

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