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Nuclear medicine and radioactive waste roundtable findings released

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11 November 2020

The establishment of a National Radioactive Waste Management Facility is needed to ensure that Australians can continue to access world-class nuclear medicine treatments.

That’s the finding of clinicians, business leaders, scientists, politicians, academics and public servants who met at the The future of nuclear medicine and its by-products roundtable in Canberra.

Today the Australian Radioactive Waste Agency (ARWA) released the communique from the roundtable, which occurred on Monday 9th November 2020 at Australian Parliament House.

The communique makes findings on:

  • Agreement on the need for a National Radioactive Waste Management Facility
  • Consensus on the growing importance of newly-emerging nuclear medicines
  • Commitment to ongoing dialogue between ARWA and the nuclear medicine industry

Sam Chard, General Manager of the ARWA, said the roundtable was a great opportunity for impactful dialogue with those in the nuclear industry.

“Monday saw the forming of a new partnership between ARWA and the nuclear medicine industry, one that will help deliver the important facility,” Ms Chard said.

“The outcomes of the roundtable have been compiled into a communique and build on what we, and the researchers, have been saying for nearly five years – Australia needs this facility.

“I would like to thank everyone who participated and look forward to continuing to work with leading clinicians and researchers as we deliver the facility.”

For more information about the project, including artists’ impressions, reports and 24 dedicated fact sheets visit the Australian Radioactive Waste Agency

Read the Communique

Communique: The future of nuclear medicine and its by-products

On 9 November 2020, the Australian Radioactive Waste Agency (ARWA) hosted The future of nuclear medicine and its by-products roundtable at Parliament House, Canberra.

The roundtable discussion focussed on two areas:

  • the growing demand for diagnostic and therapeutic procedures in nuclear medicine, nuclear medicine innovations in the pipeline or emerging in clinical practice, and
  • the corresponding increasing need to better manage radioactive waste associated with nuclear medicine, currently stored in more than 100 locations across the country.

The roundtable brought together clinicians, business leaders, scientists, academics, public servants, both in person and online, including:

  • Hon Keith Pitt MP, Minister for Resources, Water and Northern Australia
  • Hon Dr David Gillespie MP, Member for Lyne
  • Hon Rowan Ramsey MP, Member for Grey
  • Dr Chris Moy, President and Executive, Australian Medical Association (South Australia)
  • Dr Daniel Badger, President, Australian and New Zealand Society of Nuclear Medicine
  • Ms Amanda Bresnan, CEO, Australasian Association of Nuclear Medicine Specialists
  • Mr Christopher Anderson, Director Science Policy, Australian Academy of Science
  • A/Prof. Paul Thomas, Assistant Director, Specialised PET Services, Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital
  • Prof. Stephen Rose, Leader Probing Biosystems Future Science Platform, CSIRO
  • Dr Geoff Currie AM, Professor in Nuclear Medicine, Charles Sturt University and President of the Rural Alliance in Nuclear Scintigraphy (RAINS)
  • Prof. Dale Bailey, Principal Nuclear Medicine Physicist, Royal North Shore Hospital, Sydney
  • Dr Gabrielle Cehic AM, Senior Nuclear Medicine Physician, Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Adelaide
  • Mr Ross Bevan, Chief Nuclear Medicine Technologist, Canberra Hospital
  • Ms Tuesday Cole, Nuclear Medicine Technology Chief, Qscan Services Pty Ltd
  • Ms Celia Street, First Assistant Secretary, Department of Health
  • Dr Mitra Safavi-Naeini, Senior Physicist and Research Lead, Human Health, ANSTO
  • Mr Hef Griffiths, Chief Nuclear Officer, ANSTO
  • Ms Sam Chard, General Manager, Australian Radioactive Waste Agency (ARWA)

Representatives from ANSTO and ARWA updated attendees on nuclear medicine innovations and progress to site a National Radioactive Waste Management Facility (NRWMF), before leading into discussion.

Agreement on the need for a National Radioactive Waste Management Facility

Roundtable participants agreed with the need to deliver the National Radioactive Waste Management Facility. The facility will:

  • permanently dispose of low-level radioactive waste
  • temporarily store intermediate-level waste

In February 2020, the government identified Napandee, near Kimba in South Australia, as the preferred site to host the facility.

The National Radioactive Waste Management Amendment (Site Specification, Community Fund and Other Measures) Bill 2020 confirms this commitment.

ARWA will lead a separate process to site a facility to permanently dispose of Australia’s intermediate-level waste.

Consensus on the growing importance of newly-emerging nuclear medicines

It was agreed that the importance of nuclear medicine to the Australian health system is increasing, with existing medical radionuclides being used more frequently, and research and innovation driving the development of new life-saving medical treatments.

Participants heard from ANSTO, industry and clinicians on the critical role of reactor production in producing 12,000 potentially life-saving or otherwise life-changing radioactive doses per week in Australia. Participants also heard of the growing range of new and emerging nuclear medicines that can offer new treatments and improved accuracy in the diagnosis of cancer and other diseases. Over the next few decades, radionuclide therapy is projected to represent more than half of all radiation based cancer therapies, such is the importance of these developments.

Commitment to ongoing dialogue between ARWA and nuclear medicine industry

Participants agreed to pursue ongoing dialogue between the newly-formed Australian Radioactive Waste Agency (ARWA) and the nuclear medicine industry (including through ANZSNM, RAINS, AANMS), with a view to formalising the engagement as AWRA is established as a non-corporate Commonwealth entity. 

Read more

Contact us

  • Email arwa@industry.gov.au
  • Phone 13 28 46
  • Write to us Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources; Australian Radioactive Waste Agency, GPO Box 2013, Canberra ACT 2601