The Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (Ansto) has completed the largest coordinated safety and security review of the OPAL multi-purpose research reactor, as part of a new a approach to assessing performance.

This is believed to be the first integrated safety and security review of its type in the world – using an approach advocated by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) for assessing the safety of research reactors, and Australian regulatory guidance on safety and security for nuclear facilities.

The assessment of performance encompassed 15 safety factors, 19 security factors, and global assessments of safety and security – giving great assurance for ongoing operations and reliability, Ansto noted. OPAL, a state-of-the-art multi-purpose reactor supplied by Argentina’s INVAP, is marking its fifteenth birthday and the review shows it to be one of the safest and most reliable in the world.

The Period Safety and Security Review (PSSR) looked at safety and security over the past 10 years, to give a view on future performance. It included assessments of:

  • The design for safety and security considering current standards
  • The condition and performance of reactor and security systems
  • Safety and security
  • Operating experience
  • Culture and organisational effectiveness

The review has been submitted to both Australian regulators for endorsement – the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (Arpansa)  covering safety matters and the Australian Safeguards and Non-proliferation Office (ASNO) covering security matters.

Ansto CEO Shaun Jenkinson said earlier in December: “These outstanding results are a testament to Australia’s world-leading position in nuclear research and science, and the deep expertise and experience of Ansto’s people.

Our future plans to progress cutting-edge developments in nuclear medicine production, research, and partnerships with industry, are very much anchored by the high standards achieved through the safe and secure operation of OPAL.”