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Korea hits top tier of radioactive production

June 06,2007
Korea will export radioactive isotope production equipment for medical and industrial use to Russia, Turkey and Algeria, a state-run research institute said yesterday.
The deal worth $241,000 includes automatic extractors for technetium-99m, an iodine-131 solution distributor and nondestructive testing equipment using iridium-192, the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute said.
“The export amount is relatively small, but it is a clear indication that Korea’s knowhow in radioactive isotope production has reached a level of international competitiveness,” Choi Sun-ju, a scientist at the institute’s radioisotope development lab said. All three contracts were signed last month with shipments to take place in the second half of this year.
Choi said the latest export order brings the total of Korean exports in radioactive isotope production machinery and materials to $1.66 million since 1999.
The Technetium-99m that has been sold to Russia for $46,000 is used in various radioactive detection machines to find cancer growth in bones and internal organs, and is in high demand by hospitals because it limits unnecessary radiation exposure for patients.
In Korea, machines are used to extract the isotopes from the 30-megawatt Hanaro experimental reactor in Daejeon. The isotope is then sent to several hospitals.
The iodine-131 machine, worth $75,000, is designed to finely distribute the isotopes and make them into capsules used to treat people suffering from thyroid cancer.



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