Development of OPAL

The foundations of OPAL began in 1997 when the Australian Government announced it would fund the construction of a research reactor to replace the country's first reactor.


It was decided to build the replacement reactor on the same ANSTO site taking advantage of the area's sound geology and site infrastructure.

Installation of the reactor pool
Installation of the reactor pool


On 13 July 2000, ANSTO signed a contract with the Argentine company INVAP S.E and its Australian alliance partners, John Holland Construction and Engineering Pty Ltd and Evans Deakin Industries Limited, for the design, construction and commissioning of OPAL. ANSTO managed the overall design and construction process.


INVAP was the prime contractor, undertaking the design, procurement, installation and supervision of the commissioning and performance demonstration of OPAL.


ARPANSA issued a licence to construct OPAL on 5 April 2002. An operating licence was issued on 14 July 2006 and OPAL first went critical at 11.25 pm on 12 August 2006.


OPAL demonstrated its ability to comply with the most stringent health, safety, security, environmental and quality assurance standards before the operating licence was granted.


OPAL was officially opened in April 2007, the dawn of a new era for Australian science.