Nuclear Regulatory Commission sets fact-finding trip for SHINE

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Jim Leute
Tuesday, July 2, 2013

— Representatives of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission will visit this month to gather information as it prepares an environmental impact statement related to the construction and operation of a radioisotope production facility.

SHINE Medical Technologies is working toward regulatory approval of a $85 million production plant on the city's south side that will use low-enriched uranium to produce molybdenum-99, a medical isotope used in more than 30 kinds of diagnostic imaging procedures performed more than 50,000 times each day in the United States.

In June, the company completed its construction permit application to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission after submitting environmental, general and financial information to the commission in March.

The commission now is starting its review of the applications, which is expected to stretch into next fall.

When complete, the commission's environmental impact statement will be available for public review. But first, the commission needs to prepare it and encourages public input.

The commission will hold two public meetings for the SHINE environmental review Wednesday, July 17, at Rotary Botanical Gardens, 1455 Palmer Drive, Janesville.

While SHINE officials have held at least two public information sessions in Janesville, the upcoming meetings are organized by the federal commission.

SHINE, which expects to employ 150 people, hopes to begin production in 2016. Between now and then, it continues to develop its team and technology, design the 50,000-square-foot facility on Highway 51 across from the Southern Wisconsin Regional Airport and work through a highly-structured regulatory process to get its construction and operating licenses.

The city in 2012 approved a $5 million development agreement that's contingent on the company meeting several benchmarks, including federal licensing and the creation of at least 125 high-paying jobs in Janesville. The package also includes a city guarantee on a $4 million loan from private investors.

SHINE is one of two companies moving ahead with plans to produce Mo-99 in Rock County. The other is NorthStar Medical Radioisotopes, which plans to build a plant in Beloit.

SHINE and NorthStar are two of just three U.S. companies supported by the National Nuclear Security Administration as it pushes for a more reliable and diverse supply of Mo-99, which is primarily used for detecting heart disease and determining stages of cancer progression.

Historically, most Mo-99 used in the United States has been produced in Canada and the Netherlands using highly enriched uranium in high power research reactors. Both the Canadian and Netherlands reactors are operating beyond their licensed lives, and unscheduled shutdowns of the reactors in 2009 and 2010 caused worldwide shortages that delayed or canceled millions of medical procedures.

The Canadian reactor is scheduled for permanent shutdown in October 2016. When that happens, one-third of the world supply of Mo-99 will disappear, a void SHINE and NorthStar hope to fill from Rock County.

Last updated: 7:58 am Monday, July 29, 2013

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