SHINE/Phoenix unit

Greg Piefer, CEO of SHINE Medical Technologies, is flanked by sections of the first production accelerator delivered to the Janesville company by Phoenix, of Monona. SHINE broke ground Thursday for a plant where the company will house eight accelerator-based production systems that will make a critical medical isotope, starting in 2021.

SHINE Medical Technologies says it will boost employment by two-thirds for its medical isotope production facility in Janesville.

SHINE broke ground Thursday for the 43,000-square-foot building that will house manufacturing of molybdenum-99, an isotope that decays into technetium-99m.

Technetium-99 is used in tens of millions of medical imaging procedures each year but supplies have dwindled as production was limited to a few aging nuclear reactors outside the U.S.

The city of Janesville gave SHINE 91 acres along Highway 51 in exchange for $1 — part of a $6.4 million incentive package.

SHINE is one of several companies supported by the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) with a $25 million matching-fund grant to develop a way to produce molybdenum-99 without using highly enriched uranium.

“Not only are we assisting in saving lives, but we are promoting the elimination of material in civilian applications that might otherwise fall into an adversary’s hands for use in a terrorist threat,” said NNSA administrator Lisa Gordon-Hagerty, one of about 300 people who attended the groundbreaking.

SHINE has about 90 employees and said it will hire 60 more by the time the plant is finished. Cost of the project is not being disclosed. Production is expected to start in 2021.

NorthStar Medical Radioisotopes, in Beloit, also is manufacturing molybdenum-99 without using highly enriched uranium.

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