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Lucas Heights

On the record: Letter to the Editor of Sydney Morning Herald

This letter to the editor was submitted to the Sydney Morning Herald on Friday 21 June 2024.

Dear Editor,

In response to Angus Dalton’s article “’The bomb factory’: Living in the shadow of Sydney’s nuclear reactor” (21 June 2024), I’d like to reassure readers of the inherent safety of ANSTO’s OPAL reactor and operations.

Most importantly, OPAL is a small, 20-megawatt research reactor that has operated safely, securely and reliably since it was commissioned in 2007. This has been confirmed by periodic safety and security reviews.  

The ANSTO Lucas Heights campus has also been a cornerstone of our leafy Sutherland Shire community for over 70 years. In this time, it has been home to three of Australia’s only nuclear research reactors. 

OPAL produces the radioisotopes needed for our nuclear medicines production. On average, every Australian is likely to require at least two nuclear medicine procedures in their lifetime for the diagnosis and treatment of diseases like cancer. Without OPAL, Australians would need to depend on unreliable, imported products.

OPAL also harnesses the power of neutrons to carry out cutting-edge scientific research at our facilities, that are accessed by thousands of researchers each year from around Australia and the world.

It’s disheartening to see headlines and rhetoric like this, knowing the decades of rich scientific research delivered by ANSTO to benefit all Australians.


Shaun Jenkinson

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