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Opal carries out a safety self-assessment: Regulation & Safety



December 14, 2021

The Australian Organization for Nuclear Science and Technology (ANSTO) has undertaken a review of the safety and security performance of the Opal research reactor, saying its future plans are “very much anchored to high standards”.

The Opal research reactor at ANSTO’s Lucas Heights site (Image: ANSTO)

“Questioning our approach is something we do well at Ansto,” said David Vittorio, Opal Reactor Manager.

The review looked at the performance of Opal managers on 15 safety factors and 19 safety factors over the past ten years “to give an idea of ​​future performance,” ANSTO said. “The result provided a strong vote of confidence in Australia’s expertise in nuclear activities and research,” he said in a job announcement.

Vittorio said the review “has led to an action plan that will ensure Opal continues to maintain its position as one of the world’s best multi-purpose research reactors.” Specifically, “the report examined performance over the past decade and how to maintain and improve the safety, security and reliability of the reactor over the coming decades.”

ANSTO said it has followed an approach advocated by the International Atomic Energy Agency for the periodic safety and security review.

ANSTO CEO Shaun Jenkinson said the organization “is the custodian of Australia’s most important national research infrastructure, and Opal, as the country’s only nuclear reactor, is the steward of it. master piece”.

Jenkinson added: “Our future plans to advance cutting-edge developments in nuclear medicine production, research and industry partnerships are firmly anchored in the high standards achieved through the safe and secure operation of Opal. . “

Opal is a 20 MWt open-pool research reactor that started up at ANSTO’s Lucas Heights site near Sydney in 2007. It was designed by Invap of Argentina and is the design benchmark for the Brazilian multipurpose reactor under construction in this country as well as the RA-10 reactor under construction in Argentina, although these units will be larger at 30 MWt.

In September, the Australian government announced that AUD 30 million ($ 12.8 million) would be spent on the design of a new nuclear medicine manufacturing plant in Lucas Heights. It would replace a facility said to be nearing the end of its lifespan, but which has an important role to play in delivering up to 12,000 doses of nuclear medicine per year.

Research and writing by World Nuclear News