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Nuclear Futures In Australia

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					Nuclear Futures in Australia Dr Adrian Paterson Chief Executive Officer, ANSTO 17 December 2009

It is not easy to predict how nuclear science and technology and the nuclear industry will develop in Australia. Since the formation of ANSTO, Australia’s approach has been driven by research, radiopharmaceuticals and the use of established nuclear infrastructure. In particular, research in the medical field concentrated on clinical applications of radiopharmaceuticals. The establishment of the OPAL reactor represented a critical reinvestment in nuclear facilities that slowed down and possibly stalled a period of decline. The more recent opening of the Australian Synchrotron has been a positive step in the application of large scale facilities for the research community. Overall these platforms cannot yet be considered to be sufficient and necessary to sustain and grow Australian leadership in nuclear. It is therefore possible to imagine rather different futures that may emerge for Australia in response to a very dynamic global nuclear renaissance. There is still a significant risk of nuclear science and technology gradually withering away but there is an equally plausible future in which Australia takes a global lead in key aspects of nuclear fuel cycle development and indeed in the use of nuclear power. These different scenarios are all foreshadowed in the dynamic debate taking place in Australia. Australia remains at risk in its ability to capture key developments in nuclear science and technology. In the light of these potential scenarios and risks, Australia’s nuclear future is discussed and reflected on.