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Nuclear forensics

Nuclear security science

On behalf of Australia, ANSTO, the only nuclear reactor facility in the country, supports the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to undertake its role in facilitating national, regional, and international efforts to enhance nuclear security, including measures to protect against nuclear terrorism.

The IAEA provides a strong, sustainable, and visible framework to Member States to help policymakers and experts worldwide to improve nuclear security, manage radioactive sources, and prevent and detect material out of regulatory control.

In practice, the security of nuclear and radioactive materials is supported by technical capabilities, such as nuclear forensic science.

In association with the IAEA, ANSTO supports nuclear security in Australia, the Asia-Pacific Region, and around the world, by providing international leadership in nuclear forensic science.

At the Lucas Heights campus, ANSTO operates a nuclear forensics facility staffed with experts in radiochemistry and forensic science. This facility is equipped to undertake the forensic analysis of confiscated samples.

The team also conducts research into methods to determine the origin of radioactive materials, decontamination, and examination of contaminated evidence.

Forensics staff provide education, training, and exercise support to Australian emergency response agencies that may have to attend crime scenes potentially contaminated with radioactive materials.

ANSTO nuclear security experts regularly participate in IAEA Consultancy Meetings related to nuclear forensics. This includes involvement in the IAEA’s inaugural nuclear forensics conference, technical meetings on nuclear forensics, and biannual nuclear security conferences.

ANSTO also is currently taking part in its third IAEA Coordinated Research project on nuclear forensics. The current project explores a range of techniques that can be used for the analysis of uranium, with a focus on techniques that can provide rapid information to investigations.