The 22nd WiN Global Conference took place at Cockle Bay Warf in Sydney from 21-22 October 2014. It was preceded by the WiN Global Executive and Board meetings on 20 October. The conference was opened by WiN Global President Se-Moon Park, WiN Australia President Jasmin Craufurd-Hill and ANSTO CEO Adi Paterson. This year’s WiN Global Award went to Margaret Elcombe, a scientist and poet from ANSTO. The WiN Global 2014 Honorary Award was awarded to Gabriele Voigt, IAEA Director, in recognition for her outstanding contributions towards the cause of Women in Nuclear. Unfortunately, Ms Voigt could not participate personally in this year’s conference.
In her keynote address, Erica Smyth, Chair of Toro Energy and Deputy Chair of ANSTO, talked about Australia’s role in nuclear, highlighting the country’s uranium potential and ANSTO’s plans to boost its role in the Mo-99 global market.
The session on broader considerations of nuclear technologies included a talk by Ma Lu from the State Nuclear Power Technology Corporation, China, who introduced China’s nuclear power programme and expansion plans. In the session on new developments in nuclear and radiation Australia’s programme in the field of nuclear medicine was addressed. The session on engaging the public, government and media on nuclear had three inspirational speakers: Nadia Levin from ANSTO, who spoke about the complexity of nuclear communication; Ben Heard, the Director of Think Climate Consulting and the founder of Decarbonize SA, who showed ways of involving communities in supporting the nuclear option; and Irene Aegerter, the founder of WiN Global, who introduced the initiative “Energy for Humanity”. “Energy for Humanity” (www.energyforhummanity.org) had recently been created as a UK charitable incorporated organization by Robert Stone (the producer of the movie “Pandora’s Promise”), Daniel Aegerter and WiN UK Kirsty Gogan. This organization is a follow-up on the movie and it has the objective to communicate the benefits of the nuclear option in a factual manner, highlighting its importance in overcoming the world’s dependence on fossil energy.
On 22 October 2014, concurrent technical sessions were held on different topics. The IAEA’s Department of Technical Cooperation had sponsored conference the attendance of 20 young female professionals from developing countries. Several of these participants delivered presentations on their work, while the others presented posters. Two of this year’s three best poster awards went to TC sponsored conference participants.
On 23 October 2014, some conference participants paid a visit to ANSTO (Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organization) at Lucas Heights, which included visits to ANSTO’s neutron research facility; the accelerator facility, including the 10MV accelerator used to analyse environmental samples collected by IAEA Safeguards inspectors (ANSTO is one of the IAEA’s network laboratories); the HIFAR reactor, which is being prepared for decommissioning; and the OPAL multipurpose reactor. OPAL is currently being used at only 40% of its capacity and Australia plans to take over some of the Mo-99 business when the major Mo-99 producing reactors in North America, Europe and South Africa will close down operations due to their age. For this purpose, ANSTO is building a facility called ANM (Australia Nuclear Medicine) to extract Mo-99 from irradiated LEU target plates in the vicinity of the reactor. The facility is planned to become operational in 2016.
Several participants visited the Ranger Uranium Mine near Darwin, Northern Territory, on 25 October 2014. The mine is located in the Kakadu National Park, in the vicinity of the (non-operational) Jabiluka Mine. It has been operating since the mid-1980s, with uranium ore mined from Pits 1 and 3 (Pit 2 was never developed). Currently, uranium is being extracted from the accumulated stockpiles as Pit 3 is being prepared for remediation and backfill. The operating licence is valid until 2021 and operations are expected to cease about 3 years before then unless the licence is extended. Uranium ore samples collected from below Pit 3 are currently being analyzed and an underground mine below Pit 3 is under evaluation. The Ranger Mine is subject to stringent controls by multiple regulators and a special permission has been obtained from the aboriginal tribe who owns the land on which the mine is situated. After a presentation by ERA staff, the visitors were taken around the major process areas, such as the ore stockpiles, the leaching tanks, the new brine concentrator, the counter current tanks, the solvent extraction unit, the calcination unit, the U3O8 storage area and Pit 3.
WiN Global 2014 was perfectly organized and both the conference venue and the technical visits took place in beautiful parts of Australia. A big Thank You to the organizers!
Eva Gyane, WiN IAEA President