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Above OPAL pool

Nuclear stewardship

ANSTO is Australia’s nuclear centre of excellence. It has a mandated role to advise the Australian Government on all nuclear and science technology matters.

In the event it were needed, ANSTO has the foundational elements on which to build and sustain nuclear technologies in Australia.

What is nuclear stewardship?

Nuclear stewardship is the responsible planning, operation, application, management, and leadership of nuclear facilities and technologies to ensure that the highest levels of safety, security, safeguards and sustainability are achieved to maximise utilisation, benefit, and assurance for the people of Australia.

Reactor control room

Nuclear stewardship for Australia

In the area of nuclear stewardship, ANSTO is responsible for the planning, operation, application, management and leadership of nuclear facilities and technologies to ensure that the highest level of safety, security safeguards and sustainability are met to maximise utilisation, benefit and assurance for the people of Australia.

Instrumentation and control

Managing reactor technologies

For close to 70 years, ANSTO and its predecessor the Australian Atomic Energy Commission (AAEC), has managed a nuclear reactor and applied nuclear science and technology to benefit Australia.

Today ANSTO operates Australia’s only nuclear reactor, the Open Pool Australian Light-water (OPAL) multi-purpose reactor, one of the most advanced reactors in the world.

This 20 MW reactor, which uses only low enriched uranium as fuel, produces nuclear medicine, delivers neutrons for a suite of scientific instruments used in research, and irradiates industrial products, such as silicon.

Routine nuclear operations at ANSTO  include the safe and efficient management of solid, liquid, low and intermediate level radioactive wastes.

With extensive engineering experience, ANSTO continually engages in the design, construction and commissioning of major nuclear projects and facilities both nationally and internationally. These skills and experience also extend to decommissioning facilities and reactors.

At the present time, ANSTO is providing the design and consultancy services to the Australian Government in support of the establishment of the National Radioactive Waste Management Facility.

Nuclear expertise of ANSTO staff

Nuclear expertise of ANSTO staff

ANSTO has dedicated experts in nuclear analysis, nuclear safety and security, development and characterisation of nuclear materials, who contribute to environmental monitoring, preventative maintenance programs for OPAL, research on advanced reactor designs and applications of a novel waste form, ANSTO Synroc®.

A significant majority of ANSTO staff are directly involved with the operation or support of nuclear facilities.

Nuclear forensics

Nuclear safety and security

As a mature nuclear operator, ANSTO has sophisticated and robust nuclear safety and security processes that include the monitoring of potential threats.

ANSTO provides international leadership in nuclear security operations and undertakes research in selected areas such as nuclear forensics and border security technology.

The Nuclear Stewardship science group at ANSTO maintain national capabilities that support industry, government and scientific users with specialist facilities and services.

ANSTO staff are well connected to networks in the international nuclear community.

As a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), ANSTO participates in and provides leadership of a range of committees and working groups on all aspects of the peaceful use of nuclear technologies.

ANSTO maintains a Counsellor in Vienna in support of the Australian Permanent Mission to the IAEA. 

Safeguards inspector

Nuclear safeguards

ANSTO, as Australia's national nuclear research organisation and the centre of Australian nuclear expertise, has international obligations arising from the Australian Government concluding nuclear safeguards agreements with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Australia is one of 140 States whose nuclear material and activities are subject to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), with Australia concluding its Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement (CSA) with IAEA in 1974, and the first country to sign and ratify the Safeguards Additional Protocol (AP) in 1997.

The IAEA undertakes nuclear safeguards verification of nuclear activities of member states, to provide international assurance that all nuclear activities are declared, and verified as remaining for peaceful purposes, and are not being used in nuclear weapons programs.

Internationally, the IAEA nuclear safeguards system serves as a confidence-building measure, an early warning mechanism, and as a trigger that sets in motion other responses by the international community, if and when, the need may arise.

IAEA uses a number of technical measures to increase the likelihood of detecting a clandestine nuclear weapons program, and through planned and random nuclear safeguards inspections builds confidence that States are abiding by their international commitments.

ANSTO demonstrates its commitment and compliance with its international obligations as evidenced by completion of annual physical inventory verification (PIV) of its nuclear material inventory, design information verification (DIV) of its facilities, along with successful undertaking of random short notice inspections of its facilities and nuclear materials by IAEA inspectors.