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OPAL (Open Pool Australian Lightwater reactor) is a 20 megawatt pool-type nuclear research reactor that was officially opened in April 2007 at the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) Research Establishment at Lucas Heights in south Sydney, Australia.



The Argentine company INVAP S.E. was the main contractor responsible for the delivery of the reactor, performing the design, construction and commissioning. Reactor commissioning is currently ongoing.

OPAL was opened on April 20 2007 by Prime Minister John Howard[1][2] and is the replacement for the HIFAR reactor. ANSTO received an operating license from the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) in July 2006, allowing commencement of hot commissioning, where fuel is first loaded into the reactor core. OPAL went critical for the first time on 13 August 2006 and reached full power on November 3 2006. [3]

Facility details


The reactor core consists of 16 low enriched plate type fuel assemblies and is located under 10 metres of water in an open pool. Light water (normal H2O) is used as the coolant and moderator while heavy water (D2O) is used as the neutron reflector.

OPAL is expected to become the centrepiece of the facilities at ANSTO, providing more efficient and rapid radiopharmaceutical and radioisotope production, irradiation services (including neutron transmutation doping of silicon), neutron activation analysis and neutron beam research, outperforming the current ANSTO reactor in every aspect. OPAL will be able to produce four times as many radioisotopes for nuclear medicine treatments, and a wider array of radioisotopes for the treatment of disease. The design includes a cold neutron source (CNS) allowing research not possible at the existing facility.

The OPAL reactor already has received seven awards in Australia [4]

Neutron scattering at OPAL

The Bragg Institute at ANSTO hosts OPAL's neutron scattering facility and comprises the following instruments:

Loose fuel plates shutdown

Following the discovery of loose fuel plates during a routine inspection, the ANSTO announced on July 27 2007 that the reactor would be shut down for 8 weeks to fix the fuel plates and a minor fault causing light water to seep into the reactor's heavy water.[5][6]

According to reports, during the examinations no radiation leakages were detected, although it took much longer than 8 weeks to obtain the necessary clearances to complete repairs and readjustments. ANSTO announced on 25 October 2007 that the reactor would remain shutdown until early 2008 while it sought approval from ARPANSA to restart the reactor.[7][8]

See also

  • Anti-nuclear movement in Australia


  1. ^ "PM to officially open nuclear reactor", ABC News (Australia), 2007-4-20. Retrieved on 2007-10-25. 
  2. ^ "PM Opens Australia’s New Nuclear Reactor", ANSTO, 2007-4-20. Retrieved on 2007-10-25. 
  3. ^ Sydney Opal reactor at full power
  4. ^ already has received seven awards in Australia
  5. ^ "Sydney nuclear reactor to shut down", ABC News (Australia), 2007-7-27. Retrieved on 2007-10-25. 
  6. ^ "Reactor to shutdown for about eight weeks", ANSTO, 2007-7-27. Retrieved on 2007-10-25. 
  7. ^ Sabra Lane. "Lucas Heights to stay closed till 2008", ABC News (Australia), 2007-10-25. Retrieved on 2007-10-25. 
  8. ^ "OPAL: back on line in early New Year", ANSTO, 2007-10-25. Retrieved on 2007-10-25. 
  • OPAL is at coordinates 34°03′05″S 150°58′44″E / -34.051339, 150.978799Coordinates: 34°03′05″S 150°58′44″E / -34.051339, 150.978799
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "OPAL". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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