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Canada’s nuclear industry rallies together to combat COVID-19

April 28, 2020

OTTAWA (April 28, 2020) — Redeploying 3-D printers to produce face shields; supplying isotopes to help sterilize critical medical equipment; donating more than 2.1 million pieces of personal protective equipment to front-line workers; giving more than $5.6 million to local communities; and partnering with academic institutions to drive medical innovation are all part of the efforts of Canada’s nuclear business community to help combat COVID-19.

Beyond maintaining power to Canadian hospitals, medical facilities and more than 10 million homes, Canada’s nuclear industry has been involved in medical innovation for decades in Canada. Through its work in nuclear science and technology, the industry has been involved in the diagnosis and treatment of a variety of diseases, including cancer, respiratory and heart disease, endocrine, neurological and other abnormalities. In response to the pandemic, the industry has quickly pivoted to focus innovation efforts to address the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We all have a role to play in this crisis, and Canada’s nuclear industry is home to some of the most incredible innovation facilities, laboratories, equipment and brain power,” said John Gorman, President and CEO of the Canadian Nuclear Association (CNA). “We are working together to ensure our industry’s wealth of material and human resources are put to work to help Canada respond to this pandemic. Our industry members are working collaboratively to redeploy research and development (R&D) efforts, as well as rallying to donate protective equipment for front-line workers and maintain critical supply of isotopes to sterilize medical equipment.”

Supply of isotopes critical to sterilize medical equipment

An area of industry focus is the production of medical isotopes used to sterilize medical equipment, critical in battling this pandemic. Canada’s nuclear industry supplies isotopes globally, sterilizing more than 50 per cent of the world’s medical equipment. Cobalt-60 — an isotope used to sterilize equipment for front-line workers such as gloves, syringes, and medical devices — is produced in nuclear reactors. A majority of the world’s cobalt-60 supply comes from Ontario’s nuclear facilities.

Redeploying R&D efforts to combat COVID-19

Canada’s nuclear industry members have worked to redeploy their facilities, equipment and personnel to help support R&D initiatives across Canada, where possible.  Many industry members have also formed partnerships with academic institutions to drive innovation initiatives to address the pandemic, such as:

  • 3-D printing technology to produce face shields: Redeploying equipment and expertise in 3-D printing technology to produce face shields for front-line workers, with a single 3-D printer being able to produce more than 100 masks a week.
  • Ventilator production innovation: Members of the nuclear community have mobilized its scientists, engineers and facilities to provide expertise as part of a team developing a ventilator model that is easy-to-produce, using off-the-shelf, easily accessible parts.

Donations to combat COVID-19

Beyond the focus on supporting medical innovation to help fight COVID-19, Canada’s nuclear community continues to expedite the production of isotopes to sterilize medical equipment for front-line workers. Collectively, industry members have also donated over 2.1 million pieces of personal protective equipment and more than $5.6 million in financial donations to local charities, community organizations and food banks across Canada — with donations continuing to increase everyday.

“We are at a moment in time where industries across Canada must be agile and creative in seeking ways to help fight back in this crisis. It’s a time for collaborative innovation,” said Gorman. “The nuclear industry is committed to continue its work with academic, medical and government partners to explore ways we can help find solutions and drive medical innovation to combat COVID-19.”

About the CNA

Since 1960, the Canadian Nuclear Association (CNA) has been the national voice of the Canadian nuclear industry. Working alongside our members and all communities of interest, the CNA promotes the industry nationally and internationally, works with governments on policies affecting the sector and works to increase awareness and understanding of the value nuclear technology brings to the environment, economy and daily lives of Canadians.

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