The developers of a proposed health technology park in Enfield — anchored by a specialized cancer treatment center — won’t break ground this fall as the developers initially hoped because approvals will be needed from state health officials.
In a Sept 23 letter to developer International Charged Particle LLC, the state Office of Health Care Access said the technology that would be used in the treatment center — proton therapy — has never been used in Connecticut, requiring review and approval.
“Since proton beams have not previously been utilized in the state of Connecticut, it is considered new technology,” the Office of Health Care Access wrote.
It was unclear today how long a review might take or when construction might start. The treatment center is the anchor to a medical research park that could eventually encompass a half million square feet. ICP says the park could create as many as 2,500 jobs in five years.
Stephen E. Courtney, ICP’s president, declined comment late Tuesday on the ruling.
In its filing, ICP argued that proton therapy treatment is not new technology but an expansion of the radiation therapy that is already offered in the Connecticut.
Proton therapy uses a beam of protons to target benign and malignant cancer tumors more precisely. That reduces the damage to nearby cells and organs that often occurs in traditional radiation therapy, ICP has said.
ICP has said the company’s preferred location remains Enfield, where it has a purchase agreement for a specific site. ICP has declined to identify the site. ICP said it also is considering other states.
ICP lobbied for state legislation in Connecticut in the last session of the General Assembly that would have exempted ICP from having to seek the state approval, but those efforts failed.
The cancer center itself would be about 75,000 square feet and cost about $150 million. Nearly half of the cost — $64 million — is for equipment and installation, ICP has said.
Courtney has said the cancer treatment center is expected to employ 216 initially, with jobs such as oncologists, physicists and technicians. The average salary will be about $102,000. That’s well above Connecticut’s statewide average of $53,760, according to government statistics.
If approved, cancer patients could start receiving treatment within two years of the start of construction. Local zoning approval also is required.
ICP has had preliminary discussions with the state for an aid package.
Today, there are 11 centers around the country using proton therapy and an additional half-dozen under construction. Courtney also is a partner in SciX, a Boston architectural firm that has designed a handful of proton therapy centers around the country.