[ RadSafe ] Lucas Height

Chris van den Bergen Christopher.Van-Den-Bergen at adm.monash.edu.au
Thu Dec 6 18:41:02 CST 2007

Hi Radsafers,
I recently attended a radiation training course held at the Lucas Height 
facility, so I have some knowledge of the OPAL reactor, but certainly 
not a lot. The new reactor first went critical in August last year, and 
was officially opened in April of this year. They have certainly had 
some issues in regard to opposition from people with anti-nuclear 
sentiment, but the need for a nuclear reactor far outweighs the 
objections of these people. Unfortunately, the reactor is currently off 
line due to difficulties with the fuel assemblies, but should be 
operating again towards the start of next year.
I was under the impression that at OPAL the Mo99 was produced by the 
transmutation of a target placed in the high neutron flux from the 
reactor. I believe that the target was stable Mo, but I could be 
incorrect, as I never got to talk to anyone who dealt with this side of 
the operation. In addition to production of radioisotopes for medicine 
and industry, the facility is the hub for nuclear science and technology 
in Australia.
So, OPAL does indeed produced Mo99. However, considering that it is 
currently not operational, I suspect that we have some shortages in 
Tc99m ourselves. I suspect that they are still producing some Mo99m 
using the cyclotron, but this is purely speculation.


Franz Schönhofer wrote:

>Dear RADSAFErs,
>I remember reading about the fierce discussions with „greens“ about the
>replacement of the old Lucas Height Research Reactor. I have not followed
>the discussion afterwards closely, but is it correct, that  a new reactor
>has already been installed, especially as a production center for
>radionuclides for medical use?
>Any information from down under will be appreciated!
>Franz Schoenhofer, PhD
>MinRat i.R.
>Habicherg. 31/7
>A-1160 Wien/Vienna

Chris van den Bergen
Assistant Radiation Protection Officer
Occupational Health, Safety and Environment
Building 11, Room S703
Monash University, Clayton, Vic 3800
Telephone: +61 3 9905 1101 (Wed, Thu, Fri)
Fax:       +61 3 9905 2580 

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