AECL, Canadian Government Sued for $1.6 Billion Over Medical Isotope Supply
MDS, an Ontario-based company that processes medical isotopes for diagnostic radiopharmaceuticals, has filed a $1.6 billion lawsuit against its isotope supplier, Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL), and the Canadian government.
The lawsuit, filed this month, follows an announcement by AECL and the government that they would stop building two new nuclear reactors and a processing facility, together known as the MAPLE project, which would have supplied MDS with isotopes.
MDS is suing for damages and breach of contract and is seeking arbitration proceedings with AECL. A Canadian federal crown corporation, AECL is structured like a private business, but it is owned by the government.
AECL signed a contract with MDS in 1996 to complete the MAPLE project in 2000 as a replacement for its 51-year-old National Research Universal (NRU) reactor. However, AECL and the Canadian government announced in May — without notifying or consulting MDS, the company says — that, after reviews of costs, risks and other issues, they were halting the project.
AECL said the decision would not affect the medical isotope supply as the NRU’s operating site license is authorized through October 2011. “AECL will work closely with [the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission] and MDS … on the requirements for continued production beyond that date,” the AECL said.
Medical isotopes are used with positron emission tomography and single photon emission CT machines. They also are used in cardiac stress tests. They cannot be stored because of their short shelf life. The NRU reactor produces roughly half of the global medical isotope supply.