Minister Kuipers of Health, Welfare and Sport announced today, that money has been set aside for the construction of the PALLAS-reactor in Petten, North Holland, in the coming years. The ministry is reserving 30 million euros for the project this year and 129 million euros per year from next year.
The arrival of the PALLAS-reactor is important for many patients with often life-threatening diseases, such as cancer and cardiovascular diseases. These patients depend for their treatment and diagnosis on medical isotopes produced in Petten in the ageing High Flux Reactor. With the construction of a new reactor, patients can be helped again for many decades and contributes to research into a CO2-free energy supply.
Bertholt Leeftink, CEO NRG|PALLAS: “This is a wonderful step. The new reactor is in the interest of security of supply of medical isotopes for patients worldwide and important for maintaining the Dutch nuclear knowledge infrastructure. The Netherlands has an extremely strong position in the global market for medical isotopes and nuclear technological research. With the arrival of PALLAS, we are able to maintain and expand this position and guarantee the preservation of high-quality knowledge and employment in the North Holland headland.”
Peter Dijk, PALLAS-programme director: “We are very pleased with today’s news. The PALLAS-team has been working hard in recent years to prepare for the construction of the PALLAS-reactor. With this decision, we can proceed with the preparatory work for the final realisation of the new build.”
NRG|PALLAS prepares for the future
The use of nuclear medicine is booming, especially for new therapies. Around 200,000 patient treatments take place annually in Europe with therapeutic isotopes. This number is expected to increase by 8 per cent annually. Targeted and personalised therapies are very promising because they can be used much more precisely than traditional treatments. This innovative approach has fewer harmful side effects, is more effective and less stressful for the patient.
The new PALLAS-reactor is also needed for nuclear technology research and maintaining the nuclear knowledge infrastructure. NRG|PALLAS specialises in knowledge in radiation protection, nuclear safety, radioactive waste and energy technology. In Petten, for example, research is being done on thorium and developments around smaller reactors (SMRs). This knowledge is needed to assess future options around the energy transition when it comes to the role of nuclear energy in the sustainable energy mix.
Energy & Health Campus
The new PALLAS-reactor will be located at the Energy & Health Campus (EHC) in Petten. The EHC has over 1,600 employees, divided among various companies. To maintain and increase the innovative power and production capacity for medical isotopes, the Nuclear Health Centre production facility is also being realised in Petten. In addition, NRG|PALLAS is realising the FIELD-LAB, a collaboration with UMCs and partners from the pharmaceutical industry towards new applications of nuclear medicines.
The financial reserves now set by the Cabinet for the coming years are a huge boost for nuclear medicine, knowledge and innovation and for the Netherlands. The Cabinet is expected to take a final decision on the remaining investment costs in spring 2023.
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