Lucas Heights, Sydney

The Australia's Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation's research reactor at Lucas Heights is located 40km south-west of the Sydney CBD.

ANSTO's OPAL reactor is a state-of-the-art 20 Megawatt reactor that uses low enriched uranium fuel to achieve a range of research, scientific, industrial and production goals.

Opened by the Prime Minister in 2007, OPAL is one of a small number of reactors with the capacity to produce commercial quantities of radioisotopes. This capacity, combined with the open pool design, the use of LEU fuel and the wide range of applications, places OPAL amongst the best research reactors in the world.

ANSTO maintains the community’s confidence at Lucas Heights by collecting water and sediment samples from stormwater drains and local creeks and groundwater samples from nearby bores.

Atmospheric monitoring is updated every 15 minutes and made public - as ANSTO's website shows.

The Lucas Heights facility is one of numerous great examples of how low to intermediate radioactive waste has been safely stored in Australia for decades.

The OPAL research reactor's design and integrated safety features mean it is extremely safe; a fact confirmed by independent analysis. It performs a wide range of functions, including the production of radiopharmaceuticals for nuclear medicine, and the provision of neutron beams for research. 

More than 500 scientists, engineers and technicians work at ANSTO to answer the significant environmental, medical and industrial questions using nuclear techniques. On average, ANSTO accommodates over 1800 visiting researchers from other Australian research organisations and international research centres each year.

Over 15,000 members of the public visited the ANSTO facility in 2014-2015.

House prices in the area have not been impacted. Median property prices of Barden Ridge, which is the suburb immediately adjacent to ANSTO rose by 71.8% between 2009 and 2015, according to Domain and Westpac.

The facility at Lucas Heights cannot continue to store radioactive waste. Put simply, it won’t fit. The whole Lucas Heights campus is only 70 hectares in size and already has more than 80 buildings on it.

Secondly, it’s not allowed. ANSTO’s Lucas Heights campus is only licensed by the independent nuclear regulator, the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency, to store waste on a temporary basis, and on the condition that a plan is developed by the end of the decade for a final disposal pathway for its waste.

ANSTO's Lucas Heights facility