MDS Nordion Urges Government of Canada to Complete MAPLE Project to Address Current Medical Isotope Supply Shortage

    OTTAWA, June 1 /CNW/ - MDS Nordion, a leading provider of medical
isotopes and radiopharmaceuticals, today urged the Government of Canada and
Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL) to consult with international experts
and obtain their assistance toward activating the MAPLE project to address the
current shortage of medical isotopes created by the shutdown of the National
Research Universal (NRU) reactor at Chalk River, Ontario - and to avoid
similar occurrences in the future.
    Given that there are no domestic or international sources of supply that
can fully mitigate this shortage, which has caused and will continue to cause
unavoidable and serious disruptions to patient care, MDS Nordion has requested
that the government direct AECL to honour its long-standing commitment to
replace the NRU by bringing the MAPLE facilities into service. These
facilities would enable Canada to maintain its leadership position in the
innovative and increasingly important field of nuclear medicine.
    "The current NRU shutdown - and the shutdown of November 2007 -
illustrates the fragility and unpredictability of the global medical-isotope
supply system, and highlights the requirement for new research reactor
capacity to deliver a reliable long-term supply of medical isotopes," said
Steve West, President of MDS Nordion. "The solution to the global medical
isotope crisis is in Canada. The infrastructure is in place, and with the
assistance of an international consortium of nuclear experts, the MAPLE
facilities could be producing medical isotopes to the benefit of patients
    At more than 50 years of age, the NRU, the largest producer of medical
isotopes in the world, produces 30%-40% of the world's medical isotopes, and
approximately 50% of those used in North America. These isotopes are then
processed by MDS Nordion at its state-of-the-art, 300,000-square-foot facility
in Ottawa. Isotopes produced in Canada are used in approximately 50,000
procedures each day worldwide, including about 5,000 in Canada.
    On May 25, 2009, in an interview with Canwest News Service on the status
of the supply of medical isotopes, Dr. Christopher O'Brien, President of the
Ontario Association of Nuclear Medicine and Director of Nuclear Medicine at
Brantford General Hospital, said "if Chalk River does not come back up on
line, does not restart, North America will be faced with a significant and
chronic shortage of medical isotopes. There just aren't enough reactors out
there that can take the place of Chalk River."

    MAPLE - The Best Solution for Medical Isotope Supply

    MDS Nordion long recognized the serious nature of the aging global
reactor infrastructure, and the need to provide a long-term reliable supply of
medical isotopes. To this end, in 1996, MDS contracted with AECL to construct
and deliver two isotope production reactors and a processing facility
dedicated solely to the production of medical isotopes to replace the NRU
reactor, a collaboration that became known as the MAPLE project. The Project
included two reactors - MAPLE 1 and MAPLE 2 - to provide a steady and
redundant supply of isotopes when one of the reactors would go offline for
routine maintenance. Originally slated to be fully operational in 2000, AECL
agreed to build the MAPLE project for $145 million - to be fully paid by MDS
    On May 16, 2008, the Government of Canada and AECL unilaterally announced
that the MAPLE project would be discontinued without disclosing a long-term
plan for the supply of medical isotopes beyond an intent to extend the license
of the NRU to 2016. On July 9, 2008, MDS, which by this time had invested
approximately $350 million in the MAPLE project, commenced arbitration against
AECL and filed a $1.6 billion court claim against AECL and the Government of
Canada to compel them to return to work, and fulfil their contractual
obligation to bring the MAPLE facilities into service.
    On January 29, 2009, Dr. Kevin Crowley, Study Director of the National
Academy of Science, stated in his presentation to the Nuclear Energy
Association that "AECL's May 2008 decision to discontinue work on the MAPLE
reactors is a blow to worldwide supply reliability."
    MDS's primary objective through the legal proceedings is to have AECL
honour its long-standing commitment to replace the NRU by bringing the MAPLE
facilities into service, and provide a 40-year supply of medical isotopes.

    Expert Opinion on MAPLE

    In its January 2009 report, Medical Isotope Production without Highly
Enriched Uranium, The National Academy of Science Committee states that "AECL
could probably contract with another organization to fix the MAPLE
reactors...if it does not have the necessary in-house technical expertise or
resources to do the work itself."
    In a Viewpoint article that appeared in the October 2, 2008 edition of
Nuclear Engineering International, Dr. Harold Smith, ex-Manager, MAPLE Nuclear
Commissioning, HIZ and Associates Inc., stated that the "MAPLE reactor is
probably the safest reactor design in existence since it actually has three
shutdown systems... The MAPLE reactor operated like a dream, and was fully
capable of meeting all objectives."

    Other Longer-Term Supply Alternatives

    In addition to MAPLE, MDS Nordion will continue to examine other supply
alternatives. On April 28, 2009, MDS Nordion announced an agreement with
TRIUMF, Canada's national laboratory for particle and nuclear physics, to
study the feasibility of producing a viable and reliable supply of photo
fission-based molybdenum-99.
    Companies and organizations from around the world, including MDS Nordion,
are working individually and collectively to mitigate the impact to patients
that the immediate global shortage of medical isotopes has created.

    More Information

    Additional background about MDS Nordion, the MAPLE project and medical
isotope supply can be found on MDS Inc.'s Website at

    About MDS Nordion

    MDS Nordion, a business unit of MDS Inc., is a global leader in providing
medical isotopes for molecular and diagnostic imaging, radiotherapeutics and
sterilization technologies for medical products that benefit the lives of
millions of people in more than 50 countries around the world. MDS Nordion
products and services are used on a daily basis by pharmaceutical and
biotechnology companies, medical-device manufacturers, hospitals, clinics and
research laboratories. Find out more at

    About MDS

    MDS Inc. (TSX: MDS; NYSE:   MDZ) is a global life sciences company that
provides market-leading products and services that our customers need for the
development of drugs, and the diagnosis and treatment of disease. We are a
leading global provider of pharmaceutical contract research, medical isotopes
for molecular imaging, radiotherapeutics, and analytical instruments. MDS has
more than 5,000 highly skilled people in 29 countries. Find out more at or by calling 1-888-MDS-7222, 24 hours a day.

    Forward-Looking Statements

    This document contains forward-looking statements. Some forward-looking
statements may be identified by words like "expects", "anticipates", "plans",
"intends", "indicates", "targeted" or similar expressions. The statements are
not a guarantee of future impact or performance and are inherently subject to
risks and uncertainties. The actual impact to the Company of the NRU shutdown
could differ materially from that currently anticipated due to a number of
factors, including, the actual timing of a return to full production and other
risk factors identified in other documents filed by the Company with Canadian
and U.S. securities regulatory authorities from time to time.

For further information:

For further information: MEDIA: Tamra Benjamin, (613) 592-3400, ext.
1022,; INVESTORS: Kim Lee, (416) 213-4721,

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