Nuclear medicine factory to replace troubled facility

An ageing facility at the site of Sydney’s Lucas Heights nuclear reactor will be replaced with a state-of-the-art medicine manufacturing site in an upgrade expected to take more than a decade.

The federal government will fund the construction of the facility, which will make nuclear medicines to help treat diseases like cancer.

The purpose-built facility will replace Building 23, developed in the 1950s, at the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) campus on Sydney’s southern outskirts.

ANSTO produces up to 80 per cent of nuclear medicine isotopes used in Australia, including for common procedures such as bone-density scans.

An independent review will look at the design of the new facility, the development of which will be subject to a tender process.

The project is not expected to be completed until the mid-2030s and its expected cost has not been disclosed.

Industry Minister Ed Husic said nuclear medicines were essential to guard people’s health and the facility would ensure Australia was able to produce the materials for decades to come.

“ANSTO’s nuclear medicine precinct in Sydney will revolutionise the domestic production of nuclear medicines and improve the lives of thousands of Australians,” he said.

The former coalition government in 2021 announced $30 million in funding would go towards plans to overhaul the Building 23 site, which was declared as not meeting modern safety standards after a 2018 review.

The review followed a serious incident at the facility in 2017, when a worker suffered radiation burns after dropping a vial of radioactive material.


Peter Bodkin
(Australian Associated Press)


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