February 21, 2018 / 2:10 PM / 6 months ago

South Africa's Mo-99 plant back online after hydrogen leak scare

CAPE TOWN (Reuters) - South Africa’s NTP Radioisotopes, one of the world’s leading producers of Molybdenum-99 used in medical diagnostic imaging, resumed production at its Pelindaba facility after a three-month shutdown due to a suspected hydrogen leak, it said on Wednesday.

Molybdenum-99, or Mo-99, is used in millions of diagnostic tests for cancer, heart disease and other illnesses worldwide.

“We remain eternally grateful to our customers in the United States, Europe, Japan, Middle East and South Africa who showed their unwavering support,” said Phumzile Tshelane, chief executive of parent company Necsa.

NTP Radioisotopes is a subsidiary of the state-owned South African Nuclear Energy Corporation (Necsa) and uses the 20 megawatt Safari-1 research reactor at Pelindaba, in operation since 1965, to produce Mo-99.

The plant shutdown in November, which took longer than anticipated, was ordered by South Africa’s nuclear regulator after the leak was detected. It affected production valued at about 3.5 million rand $300,885) a day.

Reporting by Wendell Roelf, editing by Louise Heavens

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