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ARPANSA issues ‘licence to operate’ for ANSTO’s Mo-99 facility

12 April 2018

ARPANSA’s CEO, Dr Carl-Magnus Larsson has issued a licence to the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) to operate the ANSTO Nuclear Medicine Molybdenum-99 (Mo-99) Facility (the ANM Facility).

The ANM Facility is intended for the extraction and purification of Mo-99 from uranium target plates that have been irradiated in ANSTO's Open Pool Australian Lightwater (OPAL) reactor.

Mo-99 is the parent isotope of technetium-99m (Tc-99m). Tc-99m is a medical isotope used for diagnostic imaging of cancer tumours and undertaking organ function studies such as in cardiac and renal imaging.

The ARPANSA-issued licence authorises ANSTO to commission the ANM Facility using OPAL irradiated target plates.  A number of conditions will have to be fulfilled before routine production can be authorised, including a thorough analysis of the results of the commissioning tests.

The assessment of the ANM application and ‘licence to operate’ decision takes into account the safety of the facility, including its design, construction and operating procedures. It is also informed by advice from the Nuclear Safety Committee (NSC) and by international best practice.

"An important consideration in the decision was the management of radioactive waste," says Dr Larsson.

"The ANM Facility leads to generation of intermediate level waste, or ILW. ANSTO must by mid-2020 report on the generation, storage and treatment and disposal of ILW to ARPANSA. This report must take into account policy and plans for a national system for full life-cycle management of radioactive waste."

The newly issued ‘licence to operate’ for the facility follows two previous licence decisions: in October 2013, Dr Larsson issued a licence to ANSTO to ‘prepare a site’ for the facility and in June 2014, he issued a ‘licence to construct’ the facility.

The facility is located at the Lucas Heights Science and Technology Centre in New South Wales.

You can read the detailed statement of reasons and the regulatory assessment report for the newly issued licence to operate the ANM Facility below.

ARPANSA invited comments from the public in relation to all applications. Two public meetings were held, the most recent in June 2017 in the Engadine Community Centre, Sutherland Shire. A submission in relation to the application was received from Medical Practitioners Against War (MAPW). The statement of reasons also discusses MAPW’s submission.