A draft environmental impact statement by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) tentatively supports SHINE Medical Technologies’ plan to build a plant in Janesville to produce a critical medical isotope.

In the 417-page document, NRC staff recommends issuing a construction permit to SHINE — “unless safety issues mandate otherwise.” A safety review is still underway.

SHINE, of Monona, plans to make molybdenum-99, which decays to form technetium-99m, used in tens of thousands of medical imaging procedures every day.

According to the environmental statement, SHINE will produce iodine-131 and xenon-133 as by-products, as well. They also are used in medical procedures.

The report finds environmental impact at the Janesville site would be minimal, except for traffic, which could have a “small to moderate” effect.

NRC staff also considered alternate sites at Chippewa Falls and Stevens Point, and said the Janesville location would have a smaller negative impact and would provide more access to skilled workers.

The draft EIS is “a major step toward getting our construction permit,” said SHINE CEO Greg Piefer.

SHINE hopes to get its construction permit in 2016 and start commercial production of molybdenum-99 in 2018, with plans to provide more than one-fourth of the world’s supply of the isotope, the company said.

The public can comment on the NRC document until July 6 at http://www.regulations.gov, listing docket NRC-2013-0053.

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Judy Newman is a business reporter for the Wisconsin State Journal.

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