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ANSTO to help supply the world with nuclear medicine

The Commonwealth Government has announced a $168 million plan that will position the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) at the centre of the global fight against cancer and heart disease.

Important Information

The plan will be delivered at ANSTO’s Lucas Heights Campus. It includes a brand new investment in nuclear medicine and treatment that will create around 250 jobs. The main elements of the plan are:

  • An export scale nuclear medicine manufacturing plant, which will secure Australia’s ability to produce Molybdenum-99 (Mo-99) and increase its capacity to meet a significant proportion of the world’s needs. Mo-99 is primarily used for the diagnosis of heart disease and cancers. Applications include bone oncology, neurology, the kidney and gastrointestinal tract disorders. In Australia each year 550,000 people receive a diagnosis using Mo-99. Current world demand is for 45 million doses a year.  Australian nuclear medicine is produced using low enriched uranium which is part of the push toward nuclear non-proliferation.
  • A collocated Synroc waste treatment plant, which will deliver a permanent, safe and economical way of treating waste from past, current and future manufacture of nuclear medicines. Synroc is an Australian innovation that can also reduce the volume of nuclear by-products by 99 per cent (compared to other methods such as cementation). The synroc-treated waste will be sent to the national radioactive waste management facility once it has been sited, constructed and licensed.


ANSTO’s Chief Executive Officer, Dr Adi Paterson, said the announcement is a major endorsement of ANSTO’s Australian role and international standing.

“Already ANSTO produces half a million doses of nuclear medicine a year which we distribute to more than 200 hospitals and medical centres,” Dr Paterson said.

“This is good and important work of which we are rightly proud – and today’s announcement is nothing less than a stunning endorsement of ANSTO’s role, its performance and its future.

“Through the expansion enabled by this plan, ANSTO will go from supplying the medicine one in two Australians need, to significantly contribute to the global nuclear medicine community along with its partners.

“And in a global first, we will achieve this with our Low Enriched Uranium reactor – OPAL and in the face of increasing demand and diminishing supply, ANSTO is helping Australia take a global leadership role in meeting healthcare needs.”

Planning for the nuclear medicine manufacturing plant and Synroc plant is underway, with construction to start in 2014 and be completed by the end of 2016.

ANSTO's Greg Storr provided more details on the plan.