News item | 20-09-2022 | 4:00 pm
The cabinet has decided to set aside money in the coming years for the construction of a new nuclear reactor (PALLAS) in Petten, North Holland. The current reactor in Petten (High Flux Reactor, HFR) is now sixty years old and needs to be replaced. The HFR is of great importance for many patients with often life-threatening diseases, such as cancer and cardiovascular disease. These patients depend on medical isotopes produced in Petten for their treatment and diagnosis. With the construction of a new reactor, patients can be helped for many decades to come.
Medical isotopes are still mainly used in diagnosing diseases. In the coming years, it will increasingly involve treating various forms of cancer with substantially fewer side effects than current therapies. This is an important breakthrough, also for patients who currently have no prospect of an effective treatment. The combined use of diagnosis and therapy also ensures a more efficient (or: more cost-effective) use of medicines.
At the same time, these innovative resources are vulnerable to market manipulation and monopoly formation due to their nuclear nature and the size of the investments required. This can lead to availability issues and excessive pricing in the longer term. By reserving money for the construction of PALLAS, the government keeps these important nuclear resources available to patients.
Minister Ernst Kuipers of Health, Welfare and Sport (VWS): “The well-being of patients is always my top priority. I see that PALLAS can make an important contribution to this. The use of medical isotopes makes it possible to diagnose and treat diseases in a much more targeted way and with less harm to the patient. With an investment in PALLAS I want to give direction to these promising developments for the patient, where social needs and commercial interests go hand in hand as far as I am concerned. In addition, with PALLAS we keep the production in our own hands, which makes us less dependent on foreign countries. In the end, we also notice that in the wallet.”
security of supply
The HFR is unique because it is one of the few suppliers of specific medical isotopes worldwide. New construction is therefore not only important for Dutch patients, but for patients from all over the world. Petten now supplies isotopes for 30,000 patients worldwide every day. With the reservation for the construction of a new reactor, security of supply is guaranteed for many decades and the Netherlands and Europe can remain self-sufficient in this.
Knowledge and employment
Because production will remain in the Netherlands, the new reactor is also beneficial for high-quality employment and preservation of nuclear knowledge in the Netherlands. In addition, PALLAS ensures close cooperation with knowledge institutions and hospitals to strengthen the academic development of isotopes. Ultimately, this also benefits the patient.
The Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport reserves 30 million euros for the project this year and 129 million euros per year from next year. The cabinet is expected to make a final decision on the PALLAS project and the remaining investment costs in the spring of 2023.