The federal government is to fund construction of a new nuclear medicine manufacturing facility at the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation’s (ANSTO) Lucas Heights complex in Sydney.
The government did not estimate the cost of the facility, reportedly likely to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars, which will replace the ageing Building 23, built in 1959 for research but repurposed to make nuclear medicines.
Key outputs from ANSTO are Molybdenum-99, or Mo-99 which decays to form Technetium-99m (Tc-99m) used extensively in medical imaging.
The production process for Mo-99 begins in the modern open-pool Australian lightwater reactor, or OPAL.
Minister for Industry and Science Ed Husic said that on average every Australian will need at least two nuclear medicine procedures during their lifetime.
Husic said: “The new state-of-the-art nuclear medicine manufacturing facility will ensure ANSTO can increase manufacturing and introduce cutting edge new medicines for decades to come.
“ANSTO’s nuclear medicine precinct in Sydney will revolutionise the domestic production of nuclear medicines and improve the lives of thousands of Australians.
“Our significant investment in infrastructure is underpinned by ANSTO’s strong track record as Australia’s largest producer of nuclear medicines.”
The design and implementation of the new facility will be confirmed by an independent review to be commissioned the Department of Industry, Science and Resources.
It will also be subject to a tender process. The new facility is expected to be completed by the early to mid 2030s.
Each week ANSTO produces approximately 12,000 patient doses of nuclear medicine which are sent to around 250 hospitals and medical centres in Australia and the region.
Picture: ANSTO/nuclear medicine