[Neutron] The HIFAR reactor, at Lucas Heights just outside Sydney Australia , was shutdown to plan yesterday

ROBINSON, Robert rro at ansto.gov.au
Wed Jan 31 10:13:27 CST 2007

ANSTO Farewells its First Nuclear Reactor

Today, the Hon. Julie Bishop MP, Minister for Education, Science and
Training initiated the final shutdown of Australia's first nuclear reactor,
HIFAR, while ANSTO staff farewelled an old friend.

"The shutdown sees the end of an era in Australian nuclear science, yet also
heralds the beginning of a new one," said ANSTO Executive Director, Dr Ian
Smith. "Closing HIFAR is necessary to make way for Australia's new OPAL
reactor, which will take Australian nuclear science into the twenty-first

"OPAL will allow ANSTO to increase its production of radioisotopes using
neutron beam techniques, expand its research into areas such as obesity,
energy sustainability and genetic defects in children, as well as continue
supplying nuclear medicine to half a million Australians each year."

Current and past staff of HIFAR attended the special ceremony to say goodbye
to a reactor which during its lifetime has supplied millions of patient
doses of nuclear medicines to Australia, New Zealand and Asia, and allowed
cutting-edge nuclear science to take place. 

Longstanding staff member Rod Arnold, Reactor Shift Superintendent and HIFAR
Training Officer, said it was a sad day for him.

"I've worked at HIFAR for nearly 33 years and we've had some good times here
as it's been a total team effort in running this amazing piece of equipment
safely and effectively," he said. "HIFAR has had many modernisations over
time but still is very unique and an old friend to many of us.

"An immense amount of intellect has gone into maintaining and developing
HIFAR, not to mention the neutron beam science it has been adapted to do by
ANSTO scientists over the years," said Rod Arnold. "HIFAR is definitely a
piece of Australian history we should be proud of." 

HIFAR went critical on Australia Day 1958 and was officially opened on 18
April 1958 by the then Prime Minister, Robert Menzies, and was based on a
British reactor design. Initially, it was used to make radiopharmaceuticals
and test materials for the development of nuclear energy in Australia.
However, when the Australian Government in 1972, under Prime Minister Bill
McMahon, decided not to proceed down the nuclear energy route, HIFAR was
further adapted to conduct neutron beam research into industrial materials
and irradiate silicon for the semiconductor industry.

The shutdown initiation today also marks the beginning of the
decommissioning process which will entail a step-by-step dismantling of the
reactor, ancillary equipment and buildings. This process will take up to 10
years to complete and will be conducted under the watchful eyes of ANSTO's
regulator, ARPANSA, and the International Atomic Energy Agency.


Robert A. Robinson
Head, The Bragg Institute, B87
Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation
PMB 1, Menai NSW 2234

Tel:    +61 (2) 9717 9204
FAX:    +61 (2) 9717 3606
Mobile: 0417 017 503
E-mail: robert.robinson at ansto.gov.au 


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