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Posted 11.24.06


MU Research Reactor Submits 20-year License Renewal Application

Reactor marks 40 years of operation, is key to attracting nanoscience institute, renowned faculty

COLUMBIA, MO - The University of Missouri-Columbia Research Reactor has submitted a 20-year license renewal application to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). As it marks its 40-year anniversary, MURR has become a major attractor of renowned faculty as well as cutting-edge research. Reactor officials and scientists continue to develop new drugs for the treatment and diagnosis of cancer, new ways to analyze materials and artifacts, and new methods for improving scientists' understanding of matter and energy.

"The University's research reactor is a vital part of our research mission and has helped create cancer drugs that are benefiting all Missourians and the nation," said Jim Coleman, vice chancellor for research. "It is important that we complete this license renewal process and address any questions the public or NRC may raise in order to continue to provide essential products and services to the research community. Students, faculty and staff all benefit from the presence of the reactor on campus. For example, we are breaking ground on a new International Institute for Nano and Molecular Medicine, which could have great implications in the fight against cancer and other diseases. Without the reactor, that Institute and its director, Fred Hawthorne, would not be here."

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Hawthorne, a member of the National Academy of Sciences, came to MU specifically to lead the research teams at the International Center for Nano and Molecular Medicine. Hawthorne was attracted to MU because of its combination of a a medical school, a veterinary school, an engineering school, a life sciences center and the Research Reactor. Scientists at the Institute will study radiology, hematology--the study of blood--and cancer. The new Institute is being built across the street from the reactor.

MURR-based research includes such disciplines as anthropology and archaeology, chemistry, engineering (chemical, electrical, mechanical and nuclear), geology, materials science, medical and life sciences, nanomedicine, nutrition, physics and veterinary medicine. The MURR Center supports the research of hundreds of faculty and students in dozens of disciplines and provides products and services that directly benefit Missouri citizens, as well as others in universities, industries and agencies nationwide and worldwide.

The NRC allows operating licenses to be renewed for as long as 20 years. The NRC review process examines all aspects of safety for the continued operation of the reactor, and also examines the environmental aspects of continued operation.

"It's very important that we engage the public during this license renewal process," said Ralph Butler, director of MURR. "There will be several opportunities for the public to ask questions about any issue related to MURR, as well as make any comments about the reactor."

The NRC will give members of the public the opportunity to request a hearing on the application. Once the NRC makes the announcement, a notice of opportunity to request a hearing will appear in the Federal Register. All of the information associated with the application is public with the exception of information withheld because of security considerations.

MURR started operations Oct. 11, 1966, and, at 10 megawatts, is the largest university operated research reactor in the country. MURR is the United States' sole supplier of the active ingredients in two FDA-approved radiopharmaceuticals that enable the treatment of hundreds of cancer patients each week. MURR also provides a routine supply of new radioisotopes used by researchers in developing innovative techniques for the diagnosis and cure of cancer and other diseases.



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