NNSA enters cooperative agreement with NorthStar for Mo-99 production

The Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration announced on November 25 that it has awarded a cooperative agreement to NorthStar Medical Radioisotopes, LLC, for the use of Molybdenum-99 in the production of medical isotopes.

The U.S. relies heavily on sensitive highly enriched uranium; a dependence which the DOE wishes to halt. Mo-99 is an alternative source for medical isotope production that does not utilize HEU. The new agreement will help decrease the U.S.'s dependence on HEU while also supporting the development of the first domestic supply of Mo-99 in the nation.

"This cooperative agreement demonstrates that the government and commercial industry can work together to reduce the risk of nuclear proliferation while providing stability to an important part of the medical radioisotope market," NNSA Deputy Administrator for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation Anne Harrington said. "The development of commercial technologies to produce Mo-99 without the use of HEU will ensure that patients have access to the care they need while supporting global nuclear nonproliferation objectives."

The agreement is cooperative. The NNSA and NorthStar will contribute $10.9 million each to share the cost of production. To date, the NNSA has contributed $4 million to the development of NorthStar's Mo-99 production capabilities.

The agreement supports both short and long-term solutions for Mo-99 production. It also supports the DOE's Global Threat Reduction Initiative, which is part of its nuclear nonproliferation mission to eliminate the use of HEU for civilian purposes globally.