Sydney's nuclear reactor restarts



Sydney's nuclear reactor restarts

Sydney's nuclear reactor has been restarted after fuel problems caused a 10-month shutdown.

It's expected to be operating at full power within two weeks.

The Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) shut down the Open Pool Australian Lightwater (OPAL) reactor in July last year when it was discovered several fuel plates had moved from their original positions.

The fuel plates have now been modified and low-power testing with a full core of 16 fuel elements began on Tuesday.

ANSTO's chief executive Ian Smith said the start-up had been successful.

"This is the first stage in getting the reactor fully functional again, although it's a slow process," he said in a statement.


"It's not just a case of flicking a switch."

ANSTO said it would conduct a series of tests to ensure everything was functioning properly, before slowly taking the OPAL reactor to full power.

Before last year's shutdown, the reactor, at Lucas Heights in Sydney's south, operated for a year during its commissioning process.

OPAL is not designed to generate power but to produce neutrons. The neutrons are used to make short-lived radioactive isotopes for hospitals, and for research into the structure of materials.