January 5th, 2017
COLUMBIA, Mo. – The University of Missouri Research Reactor Center (MURR®) has received a new 20-year operating license from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). MURR has been a crucial component for research at the university for more than 40 years. Operating 6.5 days a week, 52 weeks a year, scientists from across the campus use the 10-megawatt facility to produce crucial radioisotopes for clinical settings globally, analyze artifacts, create and improve medical diagnostic tools, and prevent illness.
“The NRC review process was extensive and our ability to respond to all requests and questions in a timely manner was a credit to MURR’s relicensing team,” said Les Foyto, associate director for Reactor & Facility Operations. “MURR’s research mission covers a wide range of areas, including radiopharmaceuticals, epidemiology and physics. With the highest-powered university research reactor at the heart of the facility, it is the advancement of science and patient care that ultimately motivates the scientists and staff at MURR.”
Accomplishments and research conducted at MURR include:
- The development of procedures that will better identify individuals exposed to uranium during the past year. Scientists and homeland security experts believe this noninvasive procedure could identify individuals who may be smuggling nuclear materials for criminal purposes.
- The production of alternate materials that could recycle radioactive metals more efficiently and with less waste.
- “The Hidden Treasure of Rome” project, which is a three-year collaboration with the City of Rome, the Capitoline Museum and Enel Green Power North America to study, restore, categorize and catalogue ancient artifacts. The archaeometry laboratory at MURR is conducting chemical fingerprinting and dating of the specimens for the partnership.
Over the past year, scientists at MURR produced and distributed more than 1,000 shipments of approximately 30 radioisotopes, radiotracers and active ingredients for radiopharmaceuticals used in the targeting, diagnosis and treatment of cancer.
Before applying for the new operating license, MURR performed an extensive renewal and refurbishment program to update the facility infrastructure. Officials are confident that MURR is positioned to operate safely and reliably for another 20 years.
“Having just celebrated 50 years of cutting-edge research accomplishments, including collaborations that brought new radiopharmaceuticals to market, this milestone accomplishment of a new NRC operating license is great news for cancer patients, university researchers and economic development in the state of Missouri,” said Ralph Butler, executive director of the MURR.
MURR laboratories are fully occupied, and the Missouri legislature recently announced it is considering funding a much-needed $10 million building expansion.