OPAL Research Reactor, Lucas Heights, Australia

OPAL Research Reactor, Lucas Heights, Australia

The Open Pool Australian Light-water reactor (OPAL) is a multipurpose facility particularly oriented toward radioisotope production. It is located in the city of Lucas Heights, 35 km south west... Read more

The ETRR-2 design and building features ensure the staff, the community and the environment protection from any radiological risk. The reactor incorporates inherent safety features; that is, its design includes physical principles that avoid some kind of accidents.

The plant has a wide margin of safety and meets all the safety standards and guidelines of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

The defense in depth and the As Low As Reasonably Achievable principle (ALARA) have been applied in the reactor's design, which includes several levels of protection and multiple physical barriers to prevent radioactive releases.

The reactor protection system monitors safety parameters and is activated automatically if predefined limits are reached. In this case, the nuclear reaction is suddenly interrupted by two different and independent emergency stop systems.

Reactor shutdown

The first emergency stop system rapidly inserts six neutron absorbent plates into the core. The second emergency system injects a neutron absorbent solution into the chambers placed around the core.

Core cooling system

Pumps of the primary cooling system have flywheels, which cool the core after the pumps ceased to operate. The reactor pool water is an important secondary thermal dissipater. A gravity-water-injection system will keep the cooling conditions of the core in case the reactor pool losses water.


The reactor facility is a dynamic containment. The air vent of this facility is constantly monitored and controlled. Under emergency conditions, the air flow recirculates through filters.