220-ton cyclotron transported to Dowell Springs

Jan 11, 2013

By Carly Harrington

The second half of a 220-ton cyclotron will make the 14-mile journey from Forks of the River Industrial Park in East Knoxville to Dowell Springs on Middlebrook Pike on Friday.

The medical equipment's arrival to its final destination, a $119 million proton therapy center currently under construction, will culminate a several-week long trek from Belgium, where it was shipped by cargo boat to Knoxville. The first half was delivered Thursday.

The cyclotron, which is 16 feet in diameter and stands 8-feet high, is the key piece of equipment used in proton therapy, a type of radiation cancer treatment that uses a beam to destroy cancer cells. The cyclotron creates the protons.

"As exciting as this is, and it is, to be able to have this big piece of equipment delivered here and installed, I will be even more excited when we are able to treat our first cancer patient. There's a lot more work to do," said local businessman Terry Douglass, who is spearheading the project through Provision Health Alliance.

A special hauling rig, measuring 96 feet long and 16 feet wide, was used to transport the heavy equipment along city and state roads moving at an average speed of 5-7 mph. Thursday's delivery, which began at 9 a.m., took just over three hours.

Christi Branscom, director of public works for the city of Knoxville, said they chose to move the equipment during daylight hours to provide a safer transport. Weather was also a concern.

"We just want to get it moved safely and as quickly as possible," she said.

Once on-site, the cyclotron was hoisted by crane onto a railing, where it was then moved over an opening and lowered inside. The second half will be delivered the same way and attached to the lower half.

When it opens, the Provision Center for Proton Therapy will be one of 14 centers in the United States and the first proton therapy center in the state of Tennessee.

It is expected to begin seeing patients in the first quarter of 2014.

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