The Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration and Office of Environmental Management (EM) have signed the first contracts under the DOE’s Uranium Lease and Take-back Program with SHINE Technologies. The DOE called it a milestone in its effort to increase domestic production of molybdenum-99 (Mo-99), a medical isotope used in more than 40,000 medical procedures in the United States each day, without the use of high-enriched uranium.
SHINE Technologies, of Janesville, Wis., is one of the NNSA’s cooperative agreement partners. In October 2021, the NNSA awarded SHINE $35 million to support its efforts to produce Mo-99 commercially by the end of 2023.
Click here for more information on the NNSA efforts to establish a reliable supply of Mo‑99 without the use of HEU.
The contracts: The NNSA’s contract will provide SHINE with the low-enriched uranium necessary to produce Mo-99, while EM’s contract lays out the requirements for the return of any radioactive waste unable to be disposed of commercially once Mo-99 production is complete.
Some history: The American Medical Isotopes Production Act of 2012 directed the DOE/NNSA to establish a program to make uranium available to medical isotope producers in the United States. While the act also requires the DOE to establish take-back contracts for spent fuel and radioactive waste resulting from medical isotope production without a disposal path, there is no spent fuel involved in these contracts.
Domestic autonomy: “Signing these contracts with SHINE is a crucial step toward medical isotope autonomy for the United States,” said Corey Hinderstein, the NNSA’s deputy administrator for defense nuclear nonproliferation. “Once SHINE begins production, our country will be that much closer to creating a reliable and sufficient supply of these life-saving materials right here at home, while also increasing nuclear security by reducing the use of highly enriched uranium.”
The NNSA’s Mo-99 program works to ensure a stable, domestic supply of this critical isotope while also reducing the use of HEU in Mo-99 production. According to the NNSA, reducing the use of HEU increases nuclear security because HEU could be used in creating a nuclear or radiological weapon.