reflected in the demand for Mo-99/Tc-99m will depend strongly on whether other diagnostic imaging modalities find widespread use in the United States, which is unlikely to happen in the foreseeable future.
Reliability of supply is impacting the availability of Mo-99 for medical use and the continuity of patient care in the United States and elsewhere. Reliability of Mo-99 supply is likely to continue to be a serious problem for the United States in the early part of the next decade without new supply sources.
Conversion from HEU to LEU targets would remove policy uncertainties associated with the continued availability of HEU for use in Mo-99 production. However, conversion would not address any of the other supply reliability concerns associated with current HEU-based production.
Although there are other potential foreign and domestic sources of Mo-99 supply, it will take several years for substantial supplies from these producers to become available.
Because current supplies of Mo-99 are produced in reactors built largely at government expense, private companies that can provide new domestic supplies of Mo-99 to the market might not choose to compete without government assistance. A possible exception is Babcock & Wilcox, which has indicated that it is interested in producing Mo-99 but has not announced firm plans to build a production facility.
An examination of the progress that is being made in eliminating HEU use is provided in Chapter 11. The committee finds that:
DOE-NNSA, in collaboration with several other organizations, has made substantial progress in converting reactor fuels and targets to LEU through the Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI). The committee recommends that the GTRI program be continued until research and test reactors worldwide have converted their fuel and targets to LEU or have been permanently shut down and their HEU fuel has been returned to the country from which it originated.
Despite this progress, the GTRI program faces several challenges. There are 78 HEU-fueled research and test reactors operating throughout the world that are out of the scope of GTRI. From a purely technical perspective, it appears that most of these reactors can be converted to LEU even if they have a unique fuel design or a defense mission. The