2010-11 Annual Report - Part 3: Report on Performance

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Part 3 - Report on Performance

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Regulate the use of radiation

Apply best practice regulations, through the revision of regulatory processes and the promotion of national uniformity in radiation protection

National Uniformity

During the year the national uniformity process was advanced by the Australian Health Ministers’ Conference approving Amendment 5 to the National Directory for Radiation Protection (NDRP) in June 2010. Amendment 5 will clarify that the justification principle applies to ionising radiation and will make editorial corrections to Schedule 13 of the NDRP. Amendment 5 will also adopt for national implementation the Code of Practice and Safety Guide for Radiation Protection in Veterinary Medicine (RPS 17) and the Code of Practice for Radiation Protection in the Application of Ionizing Radiation by Chiropractors (RPS 19).

To support implementation of the previous NDRP Amendment 4 regarding regulation of solaria, ARPANSA developed an online training course for solarium operators, which was launched in May 2011.

The Safety Guide for Monitoring, Assessing and Recording Occupational Radiation Doses in Mining and Mineral Processing (RPS 9.1) was published to promote a nationally consistent approach to managing occupational exposures to radiation in the mining and mineral processing industries. This is a companion document to the previously published Code of Practice and Safety Guide for Radiation Protection and Radioactive Waste Management in Mining and Mineral Processing (RPS 9).

A Best Practice Regulation Workshop was organised by ARPANSA during the reporting period for radiation regulators from all jurisdictions to foster a common national understanding on the Council of Australian Governments requirements for best practice regulation and regulatory impact assessment.

During the year, ARPANSA produced a national guidance document, Justification and Optimisation of Practices – Human Imaging for Security Screening Purposes Using Ionising Radiation. This guidance was endorsed for publication on the ARPANSA website by the Radiation Health Committee. The purpose of the guide is to provide advice to appropriate law enforcement, security or border protection agencies on the matters to be addressed in the justification of ionising radiation security screening systems for use on humans.

Qualitative Deliverable
Continued collaboration with the states and territories, relevant industries and professional bodies to further develop the National Directory for Radiation Protection and its supporting Codes and Standards
Measure (i) Finalise National Directory amendments on intense pulsed light and laser use for cosmetic purposes, use of older radioactive sources, and user disposal of low level radioactive waste.
(ii) Complete a standard on extremely low frequency exposure and complete a review of Australia's Radiation Protection Standards.
Result (i) The NDRP amendments listed have had drafts that were prepared some time ago. Subsequently, initial cost/benefit analysis has shown that the implications for industry were wider than at first thought and/or international perspectives have changed. Each of these is being re-evaluated to ensure that any regulatory burden imposed on industry is proportionate to the current status of the issue.

(ii) On a cost/benefit analysis the justification for the implementation of an ELF Standard, including both limits and precautionary measures, led to the decision taken by RHC to revise as Guidelines. This will require substantial changes to the document, however this will be offset by the reduced requirement for a comprehensive regulatory impact assessment.

The top level standard for ionising radiation (RPS 1) is being revised to bring it in line with recent changes in international best practice. Several new topics will be introduced and this will require a comprehensive regulatory impact assessment. Linked to the revision of RPS 1 is a review of the hierarchy of the Radiation Protection Series to broadly align it with the IAEA Safety Series. The structure for this has been agreed and work has commenced on a description of the new framework and analysis of the implications for the rest of the publications in the series.
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International Engagement – International Standards

ARPANSA participated in the 29th and 30th meetings of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Radiation Safety Standards Committee (RASSC) held in Vienna in December 2010 and June 2011. For the last few years RASSC has been concentrating on the revision of the International Basic Safety Standards (BSS), a key document in international radiation protection and in December 2010 approved the draft BSS. The revised equivalent dose limits for the lens of the eyes, as recently published by the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP), will be incorporated into the BSS. These changes will have a flow-on effect for the Australian radiation protection framework and will be taken into account in the revision of ARPANSA’s top level document Recommendations for Limiting Exposure to Ionizing Radiation (1995) and National Standard for Limiting Occupational Exposure to Ionizing Radiation (republished 2002) (RPS 1).

Radioactive Waste Safety

ARPANSA formed a Waste Safety Team in November 2010, with a charter that includes a range of tasks for ensuring Australia’s radioactive waste is managed safely in accordance with best international practice.

The Waste Safety Team reviewed the 2006 ARPANSA Regulatory Guidance for Radioactive Waste Management Facilities:Near Surface Disposal Facilities; and Storage Facilities. A draft regulatory advice was prepared ready for consultation in the second half of 2011. Specific disposal options that are addressed in the advice are near-surface and borehole disposal facilities, which cover all forms of radioactive waste currently held in Australia. The advice addresses both safety and security issues.

As part of preparing Australia’s national report to the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management, the Waste Safety Team in liaison with the states and territories has produced a comprehensive database of radioactive waste holdings in Australia. The data is being added to the IAEA Net-Enabled Radioactive Waste Management Database which maintains records of all radioactive waste in storage or disposed of worldwide.

Inspections

In September 2010 ARPANSA finalised its inspection report into matters related to an incident at the ANSTO Radiopharmaceutical Production Facility (now ANSTO Health) involving yttrium-90 that occurred in September 2007. This was in the context of the ARPANSA investigation into two incidents at ANSTO’s Radiopharmaceutical Production Facility that occurred in September 2007 and August 2008, related to molybdenum-99. Whilst neither incident demonstrated any immediate risks for workers or the public, ARPANSA’s investigations have revealed a number of issues relating to the safe operation of the facility. The key recommendations in the report published in September 2010, related to incident reporting and investigation, including the independence of the internal investigation, together with staff feedback following any incident investigations. Other recommendations related to contamination control policy and procedures, staff training and the need to encourage a ‘blame free’ culture of incident reporting and follow up, as a sign of positive safety culture.

In March 2011 ARPANSA conducted a follow-up inspection at ANSTO Health with a focus on contamination control and observed improvements in the procedures and practices. ARPANSA will continue to monitor issues related to the safe operation of the facility including its safety management, safety systems and safety culture.

Throughout the year ARPANSA undertook a schedule of inspections of the sources, facilities and nuclear installations of its licence holders as part of its program of promoting and monitoring compliance with the ARPANS Act and with the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Regulations 1999 that ARPANSA administers. Arising from this program a number of breaches were identified. They were reported in the quarterly reports and this annual report in Appendix 6 as required by the ARPANS Act. In all cases, corrective action was taken by the licence holders and no enforcement was required.

The inspection work program was determined on the basis of the residual risk following an assessment of the risk profile of each licence holder. The parameters that make up this risk profile include the characteristics for each radiation source, facility or nuclear installation, the management of systems and processes associated with their use as well as an entity’s track record of compliance with the conditions of its licence. On the basis of the inspections undertaken, shortcomings can be investigated and rectified by the licensee and better practices can be identified and disseminated to other sites primarily through the use of the Agency’s Regulation and Licencing webpage www.arpansa.gov.au/Regulation/index.cfm.

During the course of the year ARPANSA undertook a series of inspections of the operating ANSTO OPAL research reactor which included:

  • Reactor utilisation – it was observed that the organisation of training of the reactor utilisation staff has improved.
  • Staff training and development – the inspections showed that there is a backlog of radiation refresher training of reactor utilisation staff. This issue was initially identified in an inspection in March 2010.
  • Operational log books – the inspection revealed that details of records were assessed to be adequate.
  • Reactor refuelling – the refuelling procedures and instructions were observed to be up to date and followed closely throughout the process.
  • Reactor maintenance and engineering services – some shortfalls were found in the depth of OPAL event root cause identification. In addition it was observed that implementation of lessons learned from event investigations could be improved.
  • Reflector vessel heavy water purification system – an emergency exercise was witnessed which demonstrated the feasibility of injured staff evacuation from the building, and also the effectiveness of the emergency procedures.

Also as reported in Part 1, the CEO requested the Department of Health and Ageing, through its Audit and Fraud Control Branch, to review two investigations performed by ARPANSA related to safety incidents at what is now ANSTO Health, which occurred in 2007 and 2008.

Refer to Table 1 and Figure 2 for a comparison of performance against KPI’s over three years.

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Table 1: Achievement against the targets included in the PBS for 2010-11
Measure Annual
Target
Result
2008-09
Result
2009-10
Result
2010-11
Serious accidents that must be reported with 24 hours <5 4 0 0
Other incidents <40 12 25 5
Breaches - failure to comply with licence conditions <20 42 31 23
Inspections >60 66 40 49

Figure 2: Number of breaches of licences conditions by Commonwealth users of radiation

 

Qualitative Deliverables Target Result
Number of inspections 60 49*
Efficient regulatory processes measured by the sum of the number of:
• licences application assessment reports
• licence amendment assessment reports
• licences inspection reports per staff member
>7 4

* The shortfall in both the number of inspections and reports issued is due mainly to the diversion of resource during the course of the year in response to the Japanese nuclear accident at Fukushima. ARPANSA provided regular advice to the Australian Government on the status of the damaged Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant. In addition ARPANSA provided advice to Australian citizens living in or travelling to Japan, and on the safety of Japanese goods arriving in Australia. In the first two months following the accident, up to 50% of regulatory staff assisted with this response on a daily basis resulting in a significant interruption to their normal inspection activities.

Quantitative Key Performance Indicators Target Result
Number of breaches by Commonwealth users of radiation of their conditions of licence <20 231
Number of serious accidents by Commonwealth users of radiation2 <5 0
Number of incidents involving Commonwealth users of radiation3 <40 5

1 Although the number of breaches exceeded the planned target, the number of breaches is lower than last year (31) and is part of an encouraging downward trend.
2 A serious accident is an event which involves a radiation exposure above regulatory limits.
3 An incident is an event which involves a radiation exposure less than the regulatory limits.

Licensing

  • The facility licence for the decommissioned MOATA reactor was surrendered, after regulatory approval from ARPANSA.
  • In December 2010, ARPANSA issued a licence to ANSTO to decommission the Camperdown Facility including the National Medical Cyclotron.
  • In February 2011, ARPANSA granted exemption of siting for construction of Camperdown Facility.
  • In March 2011, ARPANSA issued a licence to construct Camperdown Facility.
  • In June 2011, ARPANSA received an application from ANSTO to operate a new prescribed radiation facility at Camperdown, an 18 MeV cyclotron, related processing facilities and associated research laboratories.
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Stakeholder Engagement

ARPANSA maintains a regular contact with a number of stakeholders and undertook a series of stakeholder engagement exercises, including the examples listed in Table 2.

Table 2: Stakeholder Engagement
Date Stakeholder Engagement
September 2010 ARPANSA Licence Holder Forum attended by 18 licensee organisations, held at the Australian Federal Police College, Canberra
November 2010 Meeting of the Defence-ARPANSA liaison forum
November 2010 ARPANSA provided presentations to the annual CSIRO Radiation Safety Officers Day, Sydney
November 2010 Public Forum on the decommissioning of the National Medical Cyclotron at Camperdown, Sydney
May 2011 Meeting with CSIRO to discuss the current CSIRO licensing model
June 2011 ARPANSA provided presentations on regulatory awareness to Australian National University Radiation Safety Officers, Canberra
June 2011 ARPANSA provided presentations on its role to a public servants course, Sydney

 


Promote effective use of ionising radiation in medicine

Promote the most effective use of radiation in medicine, and monitor and provide advice on radiation exposure from diagnostic procedures

ARPANSA promotes the effective use of radiation in therapeutic treatments and in diagnostic medicine. ARPANSA has worked with the medical professions to help them deliver better patient outcomes in the use of ionising radiation in medicine. The aim is to ensure that diagnostic doses are optimised to provide diagnostic information with the minimum radiation exposure, the prescribed dose is optimally delivered to the target area.

Advances in medical imaging technology have seen great improvements in diagnostic and therapeutic procedures resulting in improved health care standards. Rapid advances have resulted in enhanced capabilities of existing systems as well as the introduction of new imaging modalities. This improved effectiveness of technology means that more people can be exposed in less time, so that justification of exposure and optimisation of protection have become more important.

The total population dose of radiation from medical diagnostic procedures is increasing, mainly due to the increase in computed tomography (CT) scanning. Increasing doses have already arisen from digital radiology, changes to CT technology, use of CT in paediatric practice and fluoroscopy in interventional radiology. The application of nuclear medicine continues to increase, both for diagnosis and radionuclide therapy.

Radiotherapy remains a primary treatment method for cancer and its utilisation is increasing. Rapid technological changes have occurred in radiotherapy planning, treatment delivery and treatment verification, where it is important to ensure that the prescribed radiation dose is delivered to the target organ(s) and that the dose to healthy tissue is minimised.

Qualitative Deliverable
Engage with the medical professional community
Measure Continued and extended collaboration with peak professional bodies and radiation health professionals.
Result Deliverable has been achieved.

 

Qualitative Deliverables Target Result
Number of reports, publications and presentations on the optimisation of the use of ionising radiation in medicine. >10 16
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Radiotherapy

The Radiotherapy Section of the Medical Radiation Services Branch maintains and disseminates the Australian national measurement standards of radiation exposure and absorbed dose. These standards are the basis of a traceable calibration service for radiation equipment in many areas and are validated by participation in international comparisons. In particular, the Section supports accurate dosimetry for radiation therapy treatments in Australian hospitals with regular calibrations of hospital therapy reference dosemeters.

The calibration service is currently based on the therapy level ARPANSA cobalt-60 gamma ray source facility. Calibrations of reference dosemeters with this facility are indirect, requiring an energy dependent factor to apply the calibration to megavoltage treatment X-ray beams which have different qualities to that of the cobalt-60 beam.

Activities associated with the medical linac have included:

  • training days for radio-oncology medical physicists
  • dosimetry comparison days for hospital reference dosemeters
  • presentations on the new ARPANSA linac project at a number of meetings, including the Engineering and Physical Sciences in Medicine and the Australian Biomedical Engineering Conference (EPSM-ABEC) meeting in Melbourne, 8-12 November 2010 and the annual scientific meeting of the Trans-Tasman Radio Oncology Group (TROG) in Adelaide, 11-14 April 2011.
Qualitative Deliverables Target Result
The proportion of cancer treatment centres1 transitioning from indirect calibration (cobalt-60) to direct calibration based on the ARPANSA Medical Standards Linac. 15% 1%2


1 In the 2009-10 Portfolio Budget Statements, ARPANSA had a quantitative deliverable: Number of treatment centres for cancer using indirect calibrations with improved correction factors for calibration of radiotherapy beams. This deliverable has been changed to a proportion as it is a clearer measure. This is because the number of centres has been increasing, some of these centres have several satellite centres, some or all of which will take their dosimetry from the central site and some centres will retain an indirect calibration for the transitional period.

2 The determination of the operational range of reference conditions took longer than anticipated. The original requirements for reproducible reference conditions needed to be increased to allow for the dynamic range of the accelerator. By the end of the reporting period, satisfactory conditions had been established to commence the calibration program.

Diagnostic Imaging and Nuclear Medicine

A number of initiatives have been undertaken to support the development of Australian Diagnostic Reference Levels (DRLs) for CT procedures in promoting the optimal use of radiation for diagnosis.

In collaboration with the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists (RANZCR) and other stakeholder professions, ARPANSA is undertaking a national multi-detector computed tomography (MDCT) dosimetry survey to establish DRLs for this modality. This survey will be an automated web based survey and will generate individual practice reports while data will be integrated into a national dosimetry database.

The initial module for MDCT and the base program portal have been established. The internet accessible survey form will undergo client based testing in July 2011 and should be available for general access later in 2011. Other modules for interventional radiology, mammography, PET-CT and general fluoroscopy and radiography are being planned.

These surveys allow risks to the Australian population from diagnostic radiological procedures to be evaluated and to enable comparison of Australian doses with other countries. More importantly, they give individual practices information as to where significant dose variations may exist.

Preliminary work has established that comparing generic MDCT national dosimetry with recent European surveys, Australian MDCT doses are in the top quartile of European doses.

Collaboration with European investigators has been established to further develop this work.

ARPANSA has a formal collaboration with the IAEA to participate in a Coordinated Research Project The development of advanced dosimetry techniques for diagnostic and interventional radiology. This is a three year continuing research project with various international medical physics groups.

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The development of an improved implementation of justification and referral process for optimising radiation doses to patients undergoing diagnostic imaging procedures has been initiated. This program has been advanced by undertaking preliminary discussions with RANZCR concerning the undergraduate and post-graduate training of medical and allied health professionals in radiation protection aspects of patient care.

Improved communication with and support of the clinical community has been achieved by:

  • continuing feedback with the Liaison Panel for the implementation of the Medical Code of Practice, RPS 14
  • continuing liaison with the Steering Committee with RANZCR for the development of a national MDCT DRL survey
  • continuing membership of the Department of Health and Ageing (DoHA) Consultative Working Group for Diagnostic Imaging Accreditation Standards
  • editorship of Radiation Risk of Medical Imaging During Pregnancy factsheet for RANZCR Inside Radiology website.

Under a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Therapeutic Goods Administration, ARPANSA conducts a NATA accredited Quality Assurance Test Program (QA) for radiopharmaceuticals administered in Australia for human diagnostic and therapeutic use. The QA program provides the Australian nuclear medicine community with an independent control of the quality of radiopharmaceuticals used in Australia.

Qualitative Key Performance Indicator
Establish computed tomography diagnostic reference levels to optimise the use of radiation in medicine
Measure
Computed tomography diagnostic reference levels established in collaboration with the Royal Australian and new Zealand College of Radiologists.
Result
KPI has been partially achieved.

 

Quantitative Key Performance Indicator Target Result
Percentage of practices responding to computed tomography diagnostic reference levels survey. 25% 1%*

* Survey not fully operational until August 2011

 

Quantitative Deliverable Target Result
Number of diagnostic reference level/dose surveys of diagnostic imaging modalities. 1 1

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Australian Clinical Dosimetry Service

The 2011 launch of the Australian Clinical Dosimetry Service (ACDS) at APANSA fulfilled the 2010 Australian Health Ministers’ Advisory Council’s decision to fund its establishment. The service will operate at ARPANSA for a period of three years, under a MoU with the Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing. The ACDS will develop and provide an integrated national approach to promoting safety and quality in radiotherapy. The service will be provided to the 57 radiotherapy sites which house, at present, just over 150 clinical linear accelerators. These clinics treated around 50 000 Australians requiring radiotherapy for cancer treatment in 2010.

The ACDS now provides three levels of audit. The Level I (reference output) dosimetry audit, previously undertaken by the Radiotherapy Section has been absorbed into the Level I program of the ACDS. Level II audit (non-reference output) and Level III audit (planned/delivered clinical dose) draft protocols have been approved by a Clinical Advisory Group and field testing has been arranged at volunteer hospitals around Australia reflecting the national interest in the program.

By the end of June over 85% of Australian radiotherapy organisations had agreed to participate in Level I audits and the timetable for these audits extends into 2013. New optically stimulated luminescence detectors measurement technologies are being adopted with commensurate logistical advantages and field testing will begin in August. Equipment for the Level II and III audits has been purchased.


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Protect individuals from natural sources of radiation

Improve radiation protection of employees, the public and the environment from natural and man-made sources of radiation

ARPANSA maintains capabilities of very high standards to determine the levels of ionising radiation in radioactive materials in the environment and people with intakes of radioactivity in order to assess the public and environmental exposure to radiation in the environment. ARPANSA maintains a National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA) accredited Environmental Radiochemistry Laboratory for the accurate measurement of radionuclides in the environment. In addition, ARPANSA maintains a Radon Calibration Facility for the calibration and testing of equipment for the assessment of public and worker exposure from radon, and an Internal Dosimetry Facility for the assessment of radioactive material in the body.

During the year the ARPANSA Environmental Radiochemistry Laboratory underwent a major refurbishment, to enhance its measurement capability and ensure it meets current NATA accreditation requirements, Australian standards, occupational health & safety standards, and radiation licensing requirements. While the analysis capacity of ARPANSA was reduced during the refurbishment, it was still able to provide limited commercial services, successfully participate in a proficiency testing program, and provide laboratory services for the measurement of radionuclides in food samples connected to the Fukushima radiological accident.

Uranium workers are one of the occupational groups most highly exposed to ionising radiation. Radiation protection of workers requires the maintenance of radiation dose records to assess compliance with occupational dose limits and to minimise the radiation health risk to individuals through the continued improvement of work practices. ARPANSA was commissioned in 2008 to develop, construct and implement the Australian National Radiation Dose Register (ANRDR) for uranium mine workers. The ANRDR was officially launched in June 2011. The ANRDR has been designed as a centralised repository for the radiation dose records of radiation workers in the Australian uranium industry. Its purpose is to consolidate and store radiation dose records, and it will allow for tracking of a worker’s dose records throughout their career in the uranium mining industry. A system was developed and is now available for reporting historical dose data to individuals on request.

Qualitative Deliverable
Implement a national dose register to provide access to radiation dose history records for workers in the uranium mining industry.
Measure
Dose register operational within yet to be agreed timeframes.
Result
Deliverable achieved.

 

The Safety Guide for Monitoring, Assessing and Recording Occupational Radiation Doses in Mining and Mineral Processing was published in June 2011 as Radiation Protection Series No 9.1. This document is a companion volume to RPS 9 (Mining Code of Practice) and provides support to the ANRDR.

ARPANSA is assessing and will report the significance of public and occupational exposures from industries that involve enhanced levels of naturally occurring radioactive materials. ARPANSA is working to implement an improved framework for environmental impact assessment for uranium mining and radioactive waste disposal to ensure that measures to protect people and the environment are adequate and maintained. During the year ARPANSA undertook extensive field work in NSW, collecting environmental samples from various metal mines, collieries, and from mines that quarried various minerals or rocks. On completion of the survey, a technical report will be developed that will provide information to the working group developing annexes to RPS 15: Safety Guide for the Management Naturally Occurring Radioactive Material (NORM).

Qualitative Key Performance Indicator
Provide guidance to the public and industry about the radiation environment and naturally occurring radioactive materials and identification of individuals and communities where protective action may be required..
Measure
Technical reports and safety guidance on natural background radiation and naturally occurring radioactive materials to be published.
Result
Deliverable achieved.

 

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ARPANSA continues to improve the national approach to the assessment of the environmental impact from uranium mining and radioactive waste disposal through the review of existing international frameworks. ARPANSA is working to implement an improved framework for environmental impact assessment for uranium mining and radioactive waste disposal to ensure that measures to protect people and the environment are adequate and maintained.

The 2007 Recommendations of the International Commission on Radiological Protection makes the radiological protection of the environment explicitly part of international best practice and promulgates the use of Reference Animals and Plants for radio-ecological impact assessments. ARPANSA undertook studies of models and methodologies for radio-ecological impact assessment, to examine their suitability and limitations in the context of Australian uranium mining environments. ARPANSA published Technical Report number 154, Environmental protection: Development of an Australian approach for assessing effects of ionising radiation on non-human species in October 2010. This report reviews the ICRP and the management frameworks for assessment and protection of non-human species and the applicability to the Australian context.

Qualitative Deliverable
Review the national approach to the assessment of the environmental impact from uranium mining and develop new guidance for radioactive waste disposal based on existing international frameworks.
Measure
Publish a technical report on environmental impact and regulatory guidance.
Result
Deliverable achieved.

 

Quantitative Deliverable Target Result
Number of reports, publications and presentations of surveys and assessments of public and occupational exposure to natural sources or radiation. >10 42

 

A framework addressing specific guidance on, and national uniformity in approach to, the protection of the environment and of non-human species, was presented to the Radiation Health Committee for consideration in the revision of ARPANSA Radiation Protection Series No.1 (RPS 1).

ARPANSA contributes to the IAEA Environmental Modelling for Radiation Safety (EMRAS) Programme within two of the EMRAS II technical and working groups. One workgroup, the Biota Working Group, is evaluating the outcome of model inter-comparison exercises and is preparing a new handbook on representative values for the prediction of radionuclide transfer to wildlife. The other working group, the Legacy Sites and NORM Working Group, is developing a general assessment methodology for dealing with contaminated sites.

ARPANSA staff contributed to 42 papers in relation to protection from ionising radiation, including a number of presentations on radiation effects of the nuclear emergency at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in north eastern Japan.

A complete list of publications can be found in Appendix 8.

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Ultraviolet Radiation (UVR) Protection

During 2010-11, ARPANSA continued to provide advice on protection against solar and artificial UVR, based on an understanding of the exposure levels and assessments of potential exposure to children, outdoor workers and people using solaria.

Solaria

In January 2011, ARPANSA published the findings of its survey of twenty sunbeds in eight commercial premises across New South Wales and Victoria. The survey found large variations in UVR intensities between sunbeds of the same nominal power, and that some sunbeds were emitting UVR above the limits contained in the Australian Standard AS/NZ2635:2008 Solaria for Cosmetic Purposes. Following release of these findings, ARPANSA has played a role in advising state regulators on appropriate testing methods and equipment, and potential training for solaria operators.

During 2010-11 ARPANSA commissioned the development of a web-based training course for operators of sunbeds, which became available on the ARPANSA website in May 2011. State and territory governments have begun using the web-based training course, as part of newly introduced mandatory training of commercial sunbed operators, in line with the National Directory for Radiation Protection.

External engagement and collaboration

During 2010-11 ARPANSA collaborated with external agencies and contributed to five peer-reviewed publications and two encyclopaedia articles on UVR. Further collaborations include:

  • work with scientists at the Australian National University investigating UV dose exposures in the general public
  • work with the Cancer Council of Victoria investigating winter UV dose exposures in outdoor workers, including farmers, teachers, alpine resort staff and construction workers.

In collaboration with the Australian Antarctic Division, two officers from the UVR section joined Voyage 3 of the Aurora Australis to Mawson and Davis stations in Antartica, to install specialised UV spectral measurement instruments and conduct measurements of solar UVR. This will allow ARPANSA to obtain year round monitoring of the spectral UV at Davis station, and to trial a personal UV dose monitoring system in the harsh climatic conditions of the Antarctic Summer.

Ultraviolet Testing Service

The Ultraviolet Testing Service (UTS) within ARPANSA has continued to provide NATA accredited testing of fabrics for UV protection factor ratings to Australian Standards. The UTS service also investigated and determined the amount of UV protection provided by a range of other products including shade materials, sunglasses and UV blocking films. In total, the UTS tested 2147 samples from 512 organisations.

The UTS issued 89 licenses to use the ARPANSA UPF Certification Trade Mark on UPF rating labels. The UTS processed 263 orders for ARPANSA UPF rating labels (‘swing tags’) resulting in 5 456 500 swing tags being issued. The UTS also undertook compliance testing of products carrying the ARPANSA UPF swing tag, or products referring to ARPANSA in its UPF rating label, to ensure products labelled with the tags will provide at least the amount of sun protection stated on the UPF rating label. An example of a UPF rating swing tag is at Figure 3.

Figure 3 - Example of UPF rating 'swing tags'


Solar UVR network

The Australian solar UVR network has been increased to ten stations with the addition of Canberra, meeting the deliverable of ten sites by 2011. A station located at Alice Springs is on target for installation in late 2011. The solar UVR network has monitors in each of the capital cities and some other major regional centres and covers more than 65% of the Australian population. The ARPANSA website continues to display live UV index data, obtained from its UVR solar network and overall reliability has been improved, achieving close to 100% availability of real-time data since February 2011. In addition to the Australian Solar UVR network, four additional units which cover the three Australian Antarctic Stations (Casey, Mawson and Davis) and Macquarie Island commenced on ARPANSA’s website in late December 2009. The Antarctic real-time system provides UVR data throughout the year to the Antarctic researchers located at the research stations, and to the general public. Work has continued to increase availability of the UV data to more people, through the provision of data via a developers’ webpage for incorporation into various mobile phone applications.

ARPANSA provided scientific information and UVR data to Commonwealth and state government agencies, media organisations, industry, scientists and the public concerning possible health risks from exposure to real and potential sources of UVR. ARPANSA participated in UV Alert meetings with the Cancer Councils and the Bureau of Meteorology to raise awareness of solar UVR exposure amongst the general public. Throughout the year, the ARPANSA responded to approximately 780 enquiries from the general public, via phone, website and email based communications. ARPANSA also responded to requests from industry and research organisations for data on UVR measurements from one or more sites, often requiring comprehensive and extensive data covering more than twelve months duration.

Quantitative Deliverable Target Result
Number of Australian cities provided with live UV index readings. 10 10
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Monitor population exposures to electric and magnetic fields and electromagnetic radiation

Monitor and provide advice on population exposures to non-ionising radiation

Public exposure to electromagnetic radiation and fields are the focus of considerable public concern and scientific debate. Exposures to the radiofrequency emissions of mobile phone handsets and base stations, and the exposures to the extremely low frequency (ELF) electric and magnetic fields produced by electrical power infrastructure and appliances, are of particular concern.

The multinational Interphone study into mobile phone use and risk of head and neck cancers was published in May 2010 and reviewed by ARPANSA. Updated recommendations regarding precaution, particularly in regard to children’s use of mobile phones were prepared and incorporated into ARPANSA’s factsheets and a media statement.

Four mobile phone base stations, including a cluster of three in close proximity to each other, have been surveyed and results published on the ARPANSA website. This brings the total of this survey to 21 base stations at 19 locations distributed across all 8 states and territories. The survey serves to inform the public about actual exposures near base stations and to validate the mathematical predictions provided for all base stations during consultation processes. The base station survey program, carried out with financial support from industry, is to be reviewed for the coming financial year.

A survey of magnetic fields from electrical infrastructure in Melbourne and surrounds has been undertaken and the report has been prepared and is undergoing final editing. The primary focus was on the magnetic fields in the vicinity of substations and transmission lines to help inform the implementation process for the precautionary aspects of the extremely low frequency exposure standard, or guideline.

Presentations include:

  • ENA workshop on EMF – Melbourne, November 2010 [ELF fields and precaution)
  • GLORE Meeting, Paris – November 2010 [public information policies]
  • Two presentations by invitation in Brunei Darussalam – May 2011 [mobile phones and health, exposure standards].

Surveys undertaken include:

  • four mobile telephone stations surveyed (three in close proximity) and published on website
  • two base station surveys planned for May 2011, delayed until July
  • survey of magnetic fields from electrical infrastructure completed.

The proposed extremely low frequency exposure standard has not been able to achieve approval from the Radiation Health Committee (RHC) to proceed as a ‘standard’. The preparation of a regulatory impact statement justifying implementation as either a regulated or unregulated standard has raised further issues. With the recent decision by RHC to change the document to a ‘guideline’, it seems unlikely that there will be any formal adoption of the document within the states and territories. ARPANSA’s support for implementation of the guideline within the wider community will now need to take a different form, contingent upon final decisions about the exact wording of the guideline and its content.

Quantitative Deliverable Target Result
Number of reports, publications and presentations on public and occupatoinal exposure.* >5 7

*This deliverable has been revised from the 2009-10 Portfolio Budget Statements, to accurately reflect the number of publications for the specific major activity.

 

Qualitative Deliverable
Support the implementation of a national radiation protection standard for Limits and Precautionary Measures for Reducing Exposure to Electric and Magnetic Fields - 0Hz to 3Hz through the provision of guidance documents and technical information regarding measurements of fields, precautionary assessment and field reduction methods.*
Measure
The following information to be prepared and disseminated in a timely manner
• summary of the Standard to enable understanding by the wider community
• questions and answers regarding the Standard
• examples of compliance schemes, reference to measurement and computation standards
• examples of precautionary assessment with focus on exposures of children for long periods.
Result
Deliverable delayed.
A summary of the document and an example of a precautionary assessment were prepared for the Radiation Health Committee but the Standard itself was not approved. Finalisation of all associated documents will be contingent upon the new status of the document as a guideline and its exact content.

*The focus, type and timing of supporting information and guidance provided will depend on the final form of the published standard and regulatory impact statement, as well as the level of acceptance of the standard by the multiple relevant jurisdictions.

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Qualitative Deliverable
Provide recommendations and advice to the Radiation Health Committee regarding the status of the scientific research into the adverse health effects of radiofrequency electromagnetic radiation exposure, supported by reports on the epidemiology, in-vitro and in-vivo laboratory studies and human provocation studies.
Measure
ARPANSA will undertake the following activities in a timely manner:
• reviews of the scientific literature published since 2000 relevant to health effects of radiofrequency electromagnetic radiation
• recommendation to the Radiation Health Committee regarding need for modifications or review of the RF Standard (RPS 3)
• incorporation of IARC and WHO assessments and final report to Radiation Health Committee and supporting documentation.
Result
Deliverable delayed
Reviews of the literature have continued with the collection of 1044 scientific papers published since the preparation of RPS 3. Papers in the categories Epidemiology (212) and Human Provocation (206) have been summarised but lack of staff resources has delayed the summaries for the in vitro and in vivo categories. A small working group, including external experts, with expertise covering the biological and epidemiological disciplines will be needed to complete the review and help prepare the recommendations to RHC. The IARC meeting to review the carcinogenicity of RF took place during 24-31 May and classified RF fields as ‘possibly carcinogenic to humans’. The WHO Health Impact Assessment is scheduled to be published in 2012.

 


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Ensure the security of radioactive sources and radiation emergency preparedness

Ensure the security of radioactive sources and strengthen Australia’s ability to respond to radiation emergencies

Radiation Emergency Preparedness

The Australian Government is working to ensure that Australia is adequately prepared to deal with radiation emergencies both within Australia and abroad. ARPANSA has established specialised facilities, equipment and trained teams to support planning and response for radiation emergencies. Through participation in exercises, the provision of training, and involvement in radiation emergency planning at all levels of government, ARPANSA works to improve Australia’s capability to respond to radiation emergencies. ARPANSA maintains a 24 hour radiation emergency duty officer to provide access to ARPANSA radiation emergency resources and expertise.

ARPANSA is the designated Australian Competent Authority under the Early Notification of a Nuclear Accident and Assistance in the Case of a Nuclear Accident or Radiological Emergency Conventions. ARPANSA also supports Australian Government programs for the enhancement of regional capabilities to respond to radiological and nuclear incidents, by improving the regional emergency planning and preparedness network. This support is provided though participation in workshops, provision of in-country technical advice, the development of a regional technical experts’ network and the establishment of a secure system for information exchange.

The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) bans all nuclear explosions, whether they are for civil or military purposes. To monitor compliance with the CTBT, an International Monitoring System (IMS) has been established. As a signatory to the CTBT, Australia, through ARPANSA, is committed to the operation of nine air monitoring facilities, which form part of the IMS. ARPANSA is responsible for the operation and maintenance of radionuclide air monitoring stations at Melbourne, Perth, Townsville, Darwin, the Cocos Islands, and Macquarie Island, including two noble gas analyser facilities, located with the air monitoring stations in Melbourne and Darwin. One station remains to be installed located at Mawson, Antarctica.

The radionuclide air sampling station at Macquarie Island was installed in November 2010. ARPANSA staff travelled to Macquarie Island in April 2011 to undertake, with remote assistance from CTBTO, a certification assessment of the station. Formal CTBTO certification of the facility has been delayed pending successful data transfer to CTBTO. Equipment for the installation of the radionuclide air sampling station at Mawson Base was loaded onto the Aurora Australis in February 2011 for transport to the Base. Unfortunately, due to extensive icing of the ocean, the ship was unable to offload the equipment, which was subsequently returned to Hobart. It is anticipated that provisional installation of the station will be in Hobart undertaken in mid to late 2011, and will then be assessed against formal CTBTO certification requirements.

In addition to operating the stations, ARPANSA also operates the Australian CTBT Radionuclide Laboratory (CRL), which has the role of testing samples obtained by other CTBT monitoring stations, and a CTBT National Data Centre that provides advice to the Australian Safeguards and Non-Proliferation Office on any suspicious event detected on the IMS. The CRL has been out of service for a significant portion of the year, due to issues delaying formal CTBTO certification of the newly installed detector. It is expected that the laboratory will be certified following a CTBTO panel meeting in late July.

Quantitative Deliverable Target Result
Number of monitoring facilities installed and maintained as part of Australia’s commitment to the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty to verify compliance with the treaty. 8 8
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Monitoring of Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant

On 11 March 2011 a devastating earthquake and tsunami struck Japan. A number of the units of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in north eastern Japan were damaged during this event, leading to a nuclear emergency and the release of radioactive material. Since the accident, ARPANSA and the Department of Health and Ageing have been continually assessing the nuclear situation in Japan in order to properly advise the Australian Government and public on radiation protection and nuclear safety issues associated with the nuclear emergency.

Following the emergency, ARPANSA used weather prediction data provided by the Australian Bureau of Meteorology to model on a daily basis the movement of airborne radioactive plumes, both potential and real, to ensure that Australians are given adequate advice while in Japan. Through its links with the International Atomic Energy Agency, the World Health Organization and other International and Australian government agencies, ARPANSA was able to monitor the radiation situation in Japan and beyond. Radiation protection advice was provided through the ARPANSA website and updated on a regular basis. ARPANSA also established an information service to ensure that individual enquiries on the nuclear emergency situation in Japan were responded to in an effective and timely manner.

For the weeks after the accident, Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) radionuclide monitoring stations throughout the northern hemisphere measured trace quantities of radioactive material in air coming from Japan. ARPANSA detected trace amounts of xenon-133 at the Darwin CTBT air monitoring station, which while detectable, were found to be at insignificant levels. No other detections were made in any of the air monitoring stations maintained by ARPANSA.

Foods produced in the areas affected by the nuclear emergency at the Fukushima nuclear power plant have the potential to be contaminated with radioactive materials. ARPANSA worked with Australia’s food standards regulator Food Standards Australia New Zealand in assessing the available information on the levels of contamination levels in water, milk and foodstuffs in Japan and to screen foodstuffs from Japan, to ensure that Australians were properly informed and protected.

The South East Asian region’s capacity to respond to radiation and nuclear emergencies continues to improve with assistance by the Australian Government programs within the Region. ARPANSA’s support to these Australian programs for radiation emergency preparedness and response (EPR) is principally through active participation over the year in the IAEA Asian Nuclear Safety Network EPR Topical Group.

Qualitative Deliverable
Maintain the web portal for the regional sharing of information relating to radiation emergency preparedness.
Measure
Improved regional engagement and information sharing.
Result
Deliverable achieved.
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Security of Sources

ARPANSA has provided specialised risk context, business planning and reporting capability development workshops for premises using, storing and transporting security sensitive radioactive materials. During the current period, over 230 industry operators, regulators and law enforcement personnel have participated in the workshops. Through the provision of a dedicated team of protective security experts, ARPANSA has been able to support in situ the preparation of security plans covering premises and transportation in the New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory. During the past year, ARPANSA has written more than 25 security assessment plans, and trained more than 100 security advisors, bringing the total number of trained security advisors to approximately 300, since the commencement of the program. In practical terms, ARPANSA has undertaken over 50 site visits and provided over 30 weeks in dedicated in situ support to state and territory radiation regulatory bodies and industry this year.

Quantitative Deliverable Target Result
Number of security incidents involving high activity radioactive sources requiring immediate reporting. <5 0


In order to expand the pool of specialist protective security advisers able to guide industry and regulatory bodies, ARPANSA has worked with industry representatives, security experts, security-related government bodies and educators to develop a common set of competencies for a radiation security adviser role. To the extent practicable, the competencies will be able to be achieved through existing available courses thereby reducing the ongoing cost of the program to individuals, industry and government. Establishing the competencies and appropriate training and development will not only ensure the long term availability of industry specific security expertise, it will, equally importantly, strongly encourage the development and maintenance of a robust security culture for Australia.

ARPANSA remains engaged with state and territory radiation regulatory bodies to complete the transfer and routine provision of the full set of data for the National High Activity Sealed Radioactive Source Register and complete the design and commence implementation of a national identity and security background check.

Quantitative Deliverable Target Result
Number of Australian jurisdictions that have integrated existing sources register with a national sealed source register. 9 9

 


Discussion and Analysis of Financial Performance

Report on Performance

Financially, ARPANSA reported an operating deficit of $2.33m for the year. Depreciation and amortisation expenses not requiring appropriation in the budget year totalled $2.361m. We also invested $5.419m for the renovation of the Yallambie facility along with the purchase of scientific and computer equipment. Our cash holdings continue to be robust and support the resources required to achieve the Agency’s objectives.

There have been no developments since the end of the financial year that have affected or may significantly affect the Agency’s operations or financial results in the future.

Table 3: ARPANSA Expenses for Outcome 1
Outcome 1:
Protection of people and the environment through
radiation protection and nuclear safety research, policy, advice, codes, standards, services and regulation
Budget
2010-11
$'000
(a)
Actual Expenses
2010-11
$'000
(b)
Variation

$'000
(a)-(b)

Program 1.1: (Radiation protection and nuclear safety)
Departmental expenses      
  Ordinary annual services (Appropriation Bill No. 1) 13 735 13 735 -  
  Special Accounts 10 010 13 462 (3 452)
  Expenses not requiring appropriation in the Budget year 1 904 2 361 (457)
Subtotal for Program 1.1 25 649 29 558 (3 909)
Total for Outcome 25 649 29 558 (3 909)
 
2009-10

2010-11
Average staffing level (FTE) 144 147

Table 4: ARPANSA Resource Statement - 2010-11
  Actual Available
Appropriation
for 2010-11
$’000 (a)
Payments Made
2010-11
$’000 (b)
Balance Remaining
2010-11
$’000 (a-b)
Ordinary Annual Services1
Departmental appropriation
  Prior year departmental appropriation2 2 782 2 782 -
  Departmental appropriation3 15 878 13 343 2 535
  Total 18 660 16 125 2 535
Total ordinary annual services 18 660 16 125  
Other services4      
Departmental non-operating      
  Equity injections - - -
  Total - - -
Total other services - -  
Special Accounts5      
  Opening balance 2 842    
  Appropriation receipts6 16 125    
  Non-appropriation receipts to Special Accounts 14 493    
  Payments made   31 858  
Total Special Account 33 460 31 858 1 602
Total resourcing 52 120 47 983  
  Less departmental appropriations and equity injections drawn from the above and credited to special accounts (16 125) (16 125)  
Total net resourcing for ARPANSA 35 995 31 858  

1. Appropriation Bill (No.1) 2010-11
2. Balance carried from previous year for annual appropriations
3. Includes an amount of $2.143 million in 2010-11 for Departmental Capital Budget. For accounting purposes this amount has been designated as ‘contributions by owner’
4. Appropriation Bill (No.2) 2010-11
5. Does not include ‘Special Public Money’ held in accounts like Other Trust Monies accounts (OTM). Services for other Government and Non-agency Bodies accounts (SOG), or Services for Other Entities and Trust Moneys Special accounts (SOETM)
6. Appropriation receipts from ARPANSA’s annual and special appropriations for 2010-11 included above.

Service Charter

ARPANSA has committed to a service charter that sets out the standards of service that all stakeholders can expect from the Agency. Amongst other things the charter provides a complaints resolution mechanism and is available in full on the ARPANSA website at www.arpansa.gov.au/AboutUs/corporate/servicecharter.cfm.

Client Complaints

As part of the quality management system of ARPANSA services accredited by the National Association of Testing Authorities, all corrective actions arising from client complaints are recorded. In accordance with the quality system, these actions are reported to the ARPANSA Quality Manager and the relevant Branch Head.

 

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