NorthStar Medical Radioisotopes is getting an additional $5.2 million from the U.S. Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration to move ahead with plans to manufacture a crucial radioisotope.

NorthStar is working with the University of Missouri Research Reactor to produce molybdenum-99, which decays into technetium-99m, an isotope used in a wide variety of health screening tests. The company also broke ground in July on a plant in Beloit. 

The federal agency has now agreed to provide more than $16 million, which NorthStar will have to match.

NorthStar says its production method is safer than current techniques because it does not use highly enriched uranium.

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