The ANSTO Nuclear Medicine (ANM) project has achieved a new milestone, reaching practical completion for the Molybdenum-99 (Mo-99) production facility, with contractors handing over the facility to the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) to complete the final stages of commissioning.
Once commissioning is complete, this new Mo-99 production facility will ensure that generations of Australians will have secure access to this medicine that, on average, one in two Australians will require at some point in their lifetime.
Enabled through a $168 million investment from the Australian Government, the project includes two key facilities, the world’s newest and most state-of-the-art Mo-99 production facility and a co-located world-first Synroc waste processing facility.
Mo-99 is the precursor of Technetium-99m, used in 80 per cent of diagnostic nuclear medicine procedures worldwide for the diagnosis and treatment of heart, lung and muscular skeletal conditions, as well as a variety of cancers.
This facility has particular significance on the world stage as it is one of the only export-scale Mo-99 production processes to exclusively use proliferation-proof low enriched uranium, contributing to global non- proliferation and nuclear security goals.
The ANSTO Nuclear Medicine project will take Australia from producing predominantly domestic medicine supplies of Molybdenum-99 (Mo-99), to being capable of delivering around 25 per cent of global needs for the most commonly used nuclear medicine.
The practical completion of the Mo-99 production facility means that ANSTO can take the final steps to ready the facility for production. This includes cold commissioning, which relates to testing and training within the facility, and hot commissioning, when radioactive targets are brought in and Mo-99 nuclear medicine production begins.
Regulatory approvals will also need to be finalised, including from the independent nuclear regulator,
ARPANSA, and the TGA.
“We are looking forward to starting our commissioning works, and preparing the facility for medicine production,” Michael Druce, from ANSTO’s commissioning operational readiness team said.