SCK CEN And IRE Starts The Construction Of RECUMO Facility

SCK CEN (ENS Corporate Member) and IRE – Institut National des Radioéléments inaugurated the construction of the RECUMO facility.

The joint project represents the structural solution for the management of all of the highly radioactive residues stored at the IRE’s site in Fleurus (Belgium) which have resulted from the production of radioactive isotopes for medical purposes.

Starting in 2026, SCK CEN will transform those radioactive residues into low-enriched uranium and will purify them in this new facility.

The goal is to recover uranium so that this high-quality material can be reused.

We are giving a second life to these radioactive residues. They become reusable raw materials that can be used as fuel for research reactors or as ‘targets’ for the production of new radioisotopes

highlights Peter Baeten, SCK CEN director-general.

RECUMO will so support the security of the supply of medical radioisotopes around the world.

In March 2022, the competent authorities have officially approved this project. The Federal Agency for Nuclear Control (FANC) has granted the establishment and operating permit, while the Flemish Region has issued the environmental permit.

Read more on SCK CEN Press Release.

Medical applications of nuclear technology are used all over the world. Every year, 30 million people benefit from a diagnostic procedure or treatment by nuclear medicine for at least 60 different pathologies – and these numbers are steadily increasing. New facilities are crucial in order to meet the rising global demand.

Last year, the European Nuclear Society dedicated several events and activities focusing on nuclear medical applications and radioisotopes production and supply. This one has been also the key topic of the Panel Discussion, opening the last European Research Reactor Conference (RRFM) in Budapest, and it will be a fundamental debate also at the upcoming RRFM 2023 in Antwerp.

Furthermore, ENS and the European Supply Agency (ESA, ENS Member) organise the Special Session “Beating Cancer – Turning the tide with medical isotopes” next 17 April, in Antwerp and Online. The event will give an insight into diagnoses and therapies using medical isotopes and nuclear medicine in Europe. We will shed light on exciting developments of radiotherapeutics in recent years, its contribution to personalised medicine, and many other key topics. Further details and registration are available here:

In Europe, four reactors are responsible for the vast majority of medical isotope production – the High Flux Reactor in The Netherlands, the BR2 reactor in Belgium, the LVR15 in the Czech Republic and the Maria reactor in Poland.

The chain is vulnerable because little spare capacity is available, and the mentioned reactors require increasing maintenance. So, a prolonged unplanned reactor outage often leads to problems in the supply of medical isotopes, which is felt by hospitals and patients. In these situations, other reactors are asked to step in, where possible.