Two NSW workers exposed to radiation

TWO employees at a nuclear facility at Lucas Heights in Sydney have been exposed to radiation in a contamination scare that halted production at a nuclear medicine lab.

The Australian Nuclear science and Technology Organisation says it stopped manufacturing the radioisotope molybdenum-99 (Mo-99) on Friday morning after contamination was detected on the outside of a container carrying it.

"Three ANSTO workers were attended to by radiation protection personnel, and initial indications are that two of these workers received a radiation dose above the statutory limit," ANSTO said in a statement on Monday.

Early indications show the radiation dose to the two workers was "equivalent to that of a conventional radiation therapy treatment".

An estimate of the radiation dose will be confirmed in coming weeks, and ANSTO said an investigation has started, while the nuclear regulator and Comcare has been informed.

"An occupational physician will continue to provide ongoing observation. All three workers involved are receiving ongoing support from ANSTO," the statement said.

The facility at Lucas Heights in Sydney houses Australia’s only nuclear reactor. Source: NearMap
The facility at Lucas Heights in Sydney houses Australia’s only nuclear reactor. Source: NearMap

The radioisotope Mo-99 is the parent of Technetium-99m, used in hospitals and nuclear medicine centres to diagnose a variety of heart, lung, organ and muscular-skeletal conditions.

ANSTO said vital supplies of the Mo-99 nuclear medicine are being provided through alternative facilities at ANSTO while the investigation continues.


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