Roundtable to discuss future of nuclear medicine and radioactive waste

Some of Australia’s leaders in nuclear medicine will come together today to discuss the importance of nuclear medicine and research and radioactive waste management.

Minister for Resources, Water and Northern Australia Keith Pitt said the roundtable, to be held in Parliament House, comes as crucial legislation is before the Parliament to establish a National Radioactive Waste Management Facility at Kimba in South Australia.

“Around 80 per cent of the low and intermediate level radioactive waste which is generated in Australia is directly associated with the production of nuclear medicine,” Minister Pitt said.

“The facility will play a crucial role for Australia’s nuclear medicine industry, and our ability to drive further innovations in nuclear medicine and research.

“Along with the benefits from Australia’s past, current and future nuclear medicine generation capability, comes a responsibility to properly manage the by-product including radioactive waste.

“This is why we are progressing the establishment of a National Radioactive Waste Management Facility at Kimba.

“We all know someone who has relied on nuclear medicine for diagnosis or treatment, whether it be for cancer, heart disease or other conditions.

“Nuclear medicine is a bedrock of the modern health system which we all enjoy, and I look forward to discussing its exciting applications and future innovations.”

The roundtable will focus on innovations in the pipeline, and the corresponding increasing need to better manage radioactive waste currently stored in around 100 locations across the country.

The Hon Dr David Gillespie – a former gastroenterologist and former Assistant Minister for Health, will also chair a section of the roundtable.

Dr Gillespie said 95 per cent of Australia’s nuclear waste is low level consisting of gloves, needles and transport containers.

“The waste comes from nuclear medicine facilities that are used in PET Scans and the diagnosis of and treatment of many cancers,” he said.

It is essential that we get a permanent home for low and medium waste.

In person and online, the roundtable will bring together clinicians, scientists, academics and public servants, with senior representation from:

  • The Australian Medical Association
  • The Australian and New Zealand Society of Nuclear Medicine
  • The Australasian Association of Nuclear Medicine Specialists
  • Hospitals in Brisbane, Sydney, Adelaide and Canberra
  • The nuclear medicine industry

Minister Pitt said he was looking forward to meeting with members of the nuclear medicine community to discuss the increasing need for Australia to better manage our radioactive waste.

“I would like to thank those who are attending and who will contribute to dialogue about medical innovation, and Australia’s peaceful nuclear medicine and research in the future.”

The insights from the roundtable will be recorded and presented to government for consideration.

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