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New era in Australian nuclear research.

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New era in Australian nuclear research

14 July 2006

The Minister for Education, Science and Training, the Hon Julie Bishop MP today welcomed the decision by the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) to grant the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) a licence to operate its new OPAL nuclear research reactor.

Minister Bishop said the OPAL reactor will provide world class facilities for scientists to undertake nuclear research in areas such as biotechnology, food and molecular biology, nanotechnology, health, environmental management processes and engineering.

The licence was granted following an exhaustive examination, including cold commissioning tests. ARPANSA was also advised by overseas consultants, including an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) review team.

The granting of this licence shows that OPAL has met the highest possible standards imposed upon the nuclear industry.

The granting of the licence allows ANSTO to load nuclear fuel and begin its second commissioning phase, where further testing will take place to ensure OPAL's performance meets expectations. When this is complete the current ANSTO reactor, HIFAR, will shut down. This is expected to occur early in 2007.

OPAL and its research facilities are attracting interest from scientists around the world. This will increase when the reactor becomes operational and will contribute to the organisation becoming a world leader in nuclear science research.

Media Contacts: Ms Bishop’s Office: Murray Hansen 0417 886 155

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