The Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) has warmly welcomed Deputy Director General and Head of the Department of Nuclear Science and Application at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Dr Najat Mokhtar to ANSTO during a multi-city tour of Australia last week.
The official visit to ANSTO’s Lucas Heights, NSW campus and ANSTO’s Australian Synchrotron in Clayton, Victoria, showcased Australia’s significant and continuing contributions to nuclear science and research; and nuclear safety, security and stewardship, as well as our many collaborations with the IAEA.
Australia was one of the founding members of the IAEA in 1957. As Australia’s primary nuclear organisation, ANSTO has a long-standing collaboration with the IAEA and is working alongside the agency as an IAEA Collaborating Centre to implement joint research programmes in areas including groundwater, marine environments, and air pollution.
ANSTO CEO Shaun Jenkinson said the visit by the Deputy Director General provided an opportunity to see firsthand the organisation’s world-class facilities and rich technological expertise.
“ANSTO’s two campuses are home to some of Australia’s most significant research infrastructure that support great leaps in science and research, and touch on the lives of many Australians,” Mr Jenkinson said.
“The OPAL multi-purpose research reactor is one of the world’s most advanced reactors of its class, and alongside the Australian Synchrotron, both facilities enable strong opportunities for our science communities and industry partners, while also improving health outcomes for people not only here in Australia, but around the globe.
“Importantly, the radioisotopes produced here at OPAL and processed through our nuclear medicine facilities enable between 10,000 – 12,000 nuclear medicine procedures each week for the diagnosis, staging, and treatment of medical conditions such as heart disease or cancer.
“ANSTO has built strong foundations for Australia’s nuclear capabilities and credentials over the last 70 years which is acknowledged widely on the world stage, including by our peers at the IAEA.
“Our talented staff and leading scientists are amongst the best at what they do when it comes to nuclear technologies. This visit has been a valuable opportunity to visually showcase their research and innovation in fields such as the environment, food and agriculture, health, and stewardship.”
During the Lucas Heights campus visit, Dr Mokhtar visited the OPAL reactor floor to see the current operations of Australia’s only nuclear reactor; viewed the ANSTO Synroc® pilot plant and progress on the construction of the nuclear medicine waste processing facility, SyMo; toured radiopharmaceutical research laboratories; and heard from senior scientists at the Australian Centre for Neutron Scattering and Centre for Accelerator Science.
Dr Mokhtar also observed a demonstration of CORIS360®, a portable radiation detection and imaging technology developed in-house at ANSTO which earlier this year, aided in the discovery of a missing radioactive capsule the size of a ten-cent piece, on the side of the road in the West Australian outback.
The tour was followed by a visit to the Australian Synchrotron in Melbourne, an Australian National University lecture, and a series of Federal Government policy and science roundtable discussions in Canberra on agriculture, food provenance, marine environments, cultural heritage, health, and cancer care diagnosis and treatment.
Dr Mokhtar’s visit comes as ANSTO recently concluded the 45th National Representatives Meeting for the Regional Cooperative Agreement (RCA) for Research, Development, and Training Related to Nuclear Science and Technology for Asia and the Pacific in Sydney. The annual meeting marked the formal commencement of Australia as chair of the RCA over the next year.
IAEA Deputy Director General, Dr Najat Mokhtar with ANSTO CEO Shaun Jenkinson, outside the OPAL multi-purpose research reactor at Lucas Heights.