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Breakthrough in safe disposal of nuclear material.

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The Hon. John Moore, MP

Minister for Industry, Science & Tourism


Thursday 6 August 1998



Breakthrough In Safe Disposal Of Nuclear Material


The Minister for Industry, Science and Tourism, John Moore, today congratulated the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) on its significant contribution towards solving one of the world’s most pressing environmental and disarmament problems — the disposal of nuclear weapons plutonium.


ANSTO has announced that a synroc-based ceramic has been chosen by the US Department of Energy to help safely dispose of surplus US weapons-grade plutonium.


Synroc is an advanced ceramic composed of titanate minerals chosen for their ability to immobilise the radioactive elements in nuclear waste.


“The Soviet-US nuclear arms race left a legacy of weapons-grade plutonium which the Superpowers have agreed to reduce,” Mr Moore said.


“The contribution ANSTO is making towards resolving this environmental and disarmament problem justifies the Federal Government’s commitment to ongoing research at the Lucas Heights facility.


“ANSTO has been working for about four years in partnership with the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California , the designated lead laboratory for developing the immobilisation technology in the US. This has led to the development of the best ceramic material for the purpose.


“Although it has taken a long time for synroc to be implemented, I am confident it will now come into its own and be used extensively in other radioactive waste management projects.”


Mr Moore said he believed this latest development reflected very positively on the materials science capabilities of ANSTO.


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