On April 20, the tenth anniversary since the OPAL (Open Pool Australian Light-water) reactor inauguration was celebrated. This multipurpose facility was designed and built by INVAP for the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organization (ANSTO), the science and technology nuclear agency of Australia located in Lucas Heights, near Sydney.
The reactor achieved criticality in August 2006, became fully operational in November and was officially inaugurated in April 20 2007 during a ceremony presided over by the Australia’s Prime Minister at that moment, John Howard.
OPAL is one of the most complex and versatile research reactors in the world. Winning the international tender of this important project showed at the moment the competitive level achieved by the Argentine technology. Besides providing Australia and other countries with radioisotopes, the OPAL reactor is a neutron source highly used for scientific research and technology development. It also offers silicon irradiation services to the microelectronic industry.
The reactor has provided quite efficient services and, thanks to ANTO excellent management, has become one of the most reliable and available in its kind worldwide, been fully operational 307 days a year.
INVAP is today internationally recognized as a supplier of reliable and up-to-date nuclear technology for peaceful purposes, and it has become a member of the leading group in developing and building research facilities and equipment, including research nuclear reactors and radioisotope production plants. To carry out the OPAL project INVAP led a large group of Argentine and international contractors. The Argentine National Commission of Atomic Energy (CNEA, in Spanish) deserves a special recognition not only for taking part in the project, but also for encouraging the national nuclear industry.