A nuclear station east of Toronto will become “the first large scale” commercial facility in the world to produce much-needed medical isotopes used to detect cancers and diagnose various medical conditions.

The Canadian Nuclear Partners (CNP), the Ontario Power Generation (OPG) and BWX Technologies Inc. said Wednesday that Darlington Nuclear Station in Bowmanville, Ont. will become “the first large scale commercial nuclear power station worldwide” to produce molybdenum-99, or Mo-99.

Mo-99 is an isotope used in medical imaging to detect cancer and disease in the body. 

In a news release, the CNP and OPG said that production of Mo-99 will also “secure a domestic supply” of the isotope for Canadian patients.

“This exciting collaboration will save lives here in Ontario and across North America by giving patients quicker access to vital medical treatments,” CNP President Glenn Jager said in the release. 

“Canada will once again be a leader in producing this critical medical tool that is used in over 30 million medical procedures across the globe each year,” he added.

The announcement comes months after the National Research Universal reactor in Chalk River, Ont., was shut down. That reactor once produced about 40 per cent of the world’s supply of medical isotopes before it was plagued by leaks and other production problems.