Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Cyclotrons for medical uses – a better option than Lucas Heights nuclear reactor

cyclotron - small partcle accelerator, CanadaA NEW REACTOR?  It’s the worst possible option! Nuclear Study Group  Sutherland Shire Environment Centre  1998 By R.D. (Bob) Walshe, OAM“…..There are attractive alternatives to a new reactor, especially cyclotrons. Why are they being ignored?

Dr Jim Green says, ‘There are several alternatives to a new reactor, including particle accelerators, spallation sources, and synchrotron radiation sources.’

But none of these were independently evaluated prior to the Federal Government’s 3 September 1997 statement of intention to proceed with a new reactor. Yet, says Dr Green, in all cases ‘the alternatives are preferable to a reactor, in relation to radioactive waste and safety’.

There is not room here to report the claims of all these scientific/technical alternatives, but the keenest contender, the cyclotron, suffices to demonstrate what is possible.

‘Particle accelerators’ are machines that charge particles to enormous velocities, whence they can be directed to hit a target and so produce the medical isotopes that ANSTO has led so many people to believe require a nuclear reactor. The cyclotron is at present the most useful of the accelerators.

Australia already has two cyclotrons, one in Sydney and a smaller in Melbourne. Dr Green says they are much cheaper to buy than reactors, cheaper to run, are powered by electricity not nuclear fuel, leave only a small quantity of low-level radioactive waste, and so avoid the intractable waste problem associated with a reactor.

Attractive indeed. How, then, to explain the churlish attitude of ANSTO to cyclotrons? The unavoidable answer is – because the nuclear industry fears it will be undermined by the cheaper, safer, electricity-based cyclotron industry.

Several authoritative voices have called for funds for cyclotron research; for example, the 1995 Senate Select Committee on Radioactive Waste was urged to recommend that $500,000 be spent over three years on cyclotron research – a fraction of the money lavished on the reactor – but none has been forthcoming.

The relatively cheap, safe and simple cyclotron undermines the case for a new, expensive, waste-proliferating reactor. The cyclotron and other attractive alternatives to a reactor promise better results in nuclear medicine. And ANSTO’s  last defence of the reactor – that it alone can produce the much-used isotope Technetium-99m which can’t be imported because its effective life is only six hours – neglects to say that its equally effective longer-lived parent , Molybdenum-99m, is being widely transported around the world. (Moreover, American research into cyclotron production of Technetium-99m has shown promising results in recent years, and further research is proceeding actively. )  http://ssec.org.au/our_environment/issues_campaigns/nuclear/a_new_reactor.htm

November 27, 2016 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, health

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