Nuclear medicine experts tour ANSTO for briefing on radioactive waste

ANSTO tour: Nuclear medicine experts attended a recent briefing at ANSTO at Lucas Heights. Picture: Supplied
ANSTO tour: Nuclear medicine experts attended a recent briefing at ANSTO at Lucas Heights. Picture: Supplied

Seven of Australia's top nuclear medicine experts took part in a recent briefing at ANSTO at Lucas Heights about new innovations and plans to manage nuclear waste stored at the site.

The briefings were held last month as part of the Annual General Meeting of the Australian and New Zealand Society of Nuclear Medicine (ANZSNM).

During a tour of ANSTO, the nuclear medicine group saw the site's new $168.8 million nuclear medicine facility and the SyMo facility now being built to treat waste by-products.

ANSTO's chief nuclear officer Hef Griffiths said the event was a great opportunity to speak about both ends of the nuclear medicine supply chain.

"It is likely that every Australian will need nuclear medicine in their lifetime for diagnosis of a variety of heart, lung and muscular-skeletal conditions, or treatment of specific types of cancers," Mr Griffiths said.

"To support this, ANSTO's new nuclear medicine facility delivers thousands of doses of nuclear medicine to more than 220 hospitals and nuclear medicine centres each week."

He said the new facility, which was announced in 2012 and commenced production in 2019, had already become a "critical part of the nuclear medicine supply chain".

A by-product of that is the 30 litres of intermediate-level radioactive waste produced at the site each week.

The waste is being held in tanks while the new SyMo facility is constructed, but once it is complete, the waste will be solidified using ANSTO's Synroc technology.

Mr Griffiths said Synroc was an innovative, cost-effective, low-risk way to reduce waste volume by taking it from liquid form and solidifying it into a synthetic rock so it is suitable for permanent storage.