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2016–17 Annual Report - Part 6 - Appendix 2: Operations of the Radiation Health and Safety Advisory Council and Committees

Operations of the Radiation Health and Safety Advisory Council

During 2016–17, the Radiation Health and Safety Advisory Council (the Council) met on three occasions. Summaries of the meetings can be found at: arpansa.gov.au/rhsac-minutes.

The membership of the Council as at 30 June 2017 was:

  • Chair

Dr Roger Allison (QLD), Executive Director Cancer Care Services, Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital

  • CEO of ARPANSA

Dr Carl-Magnus Larsson (Commonwealth)

  • Radiation Control Officers:
    • Mr Keith Baldry (SA), Director, Regulation and Compliance, SA Environment Protection Authority
    • Mr Simon Critchley (QLD), Director, Radiation Health, Queensland Health
       
  • Nominee of the Chief Minister of NT

Dr Hugh Heggie (NT), Chief Health Officer, Department of Health of the NT

  • Person to represent the interests of the general public

Ms Geraldine Robertson (ACT), an experienced consumer advocate with a working knowledge of the consumer-related radiation protection issues addressed by the Council

  • Other Members:
     
    • Mr Niall Byrne (VIC), Creative Director of Science in Public
    • Dr Jane Canestra (VIC), Medical practitioner and emergency physician with expertise in the health aspects of radiological emergencies
    • Professor Adele Green (QLD), Head, Cancer and Population Studies Group, Queensland Institute of Medical Research
    • Mr Frank Harris (QLD), Chief Adviser Radiation Governance and Product Stewardship, Rio Tinto Uranium (reappointed 1 April 2017)
    • Ms Melissa Holzberger (QLD), Director and Principal – Sloan Holzberger Lawyers (reappointed 1 April 2017)
    • Professor Pamela Sykes (SA), Professor Preventive Cancer Biology, Flinders University
    • Dr Melanie Taylor (NSW), Senior Lecturer Organisational Psychology, Macquarie University.

During 2016–17, Council considered and discussed:

  • new and emerging technologies in the prevention of skin cancer, and new research on the health impacts of UVR exposure, including preventable melanoma. The Council acknowledged the opportunity for cost savings from investing in prevention rather than treating skin cancer. ARPANSA’s UVR strategy was also presented for consideration, highlighting priority areas such as a sunscreen testing service and noting that ARPANSA is investigating new technology to incorporate into its UVR monitoring network
  • ARPANSA’s role in emergency preparedness and response during a radiological emergency
  • appropriate referrals for diagnostic imaging. The Council heard from the President of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists about options for guidelines and decision support tools in this field
  • how ARPANSA uses and communicates data, including the agency’s digital strategies
  • the regulation of naturally occurring radioactive material
  • the role of ARPANSA in a national context of emergency exposure situations
  • ARPANSA’s options to influence behavioural change in news media perceptions of radiation issues.

The Council provided advice to the CEO of ARPANSA, at the CEO’s earlier request, on the appropriate level at which to set the national ‘reference level’ for radiation exposure in emergency situations.
 
Council also issued a position statement to the CEO of ARPANSA supporting the continued use of the linear no-threshold model as a regulatory tool for ionising radiation protection, in situations where radiation is below levels for which there is established evidence of harm.

Throughout the course of the year, ARPANSA’s Minister (the Assistant Minister for Health) the Honourable Dr David Gillespie MP addressed the Council and outlined the vital role of its independent advice to the CEO of ARPANSA.

Members of Council were welcomed to the Victorian State Control Centre by Victoria’s State Emergency Management Commissioner Craig Lapsley. Council toured the facilities and was informed of the roles and functions of the State Control Centre.

Council also visited the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre at the new Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre.

Operations of the Radiation Health Committee

During 2016–17, the Radiation Health Committee (RHC) met on three occasions. The meeting minutes are available at: arpansa.gov.au/rhc-minutes.

The RHC is appointed on a three year term, which commenced on 1 January 2015. The chair and members for the 2015–17 triennium are:

  • Chair

    Dr Roslyn Drummond (VIC), Deputy Director of Radiation Oncology and Cancer Imaging, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre
     
  • CEO of ARPANSA

    Dr Carl-Magnus Larsson (Commonwealth)
     
  • Radiation Control Officers
    (each state and territory):
     
    • Mr Bradley Feldtman (NT), Manager Radiation Protection, Department of Health
    • Mr Keith Baldry (SA), Director, Regulation  and Compliance, SA Environment Protection Authority
    • Ms Penny Hill (ACT), Senior Radiation Safety Officer, Health Protection Service, ACT Health
    • Mr Noel Cleaves (VIC), Manager, Environmental Health Regulation & Compliance, Health Protection Branch, Department of Health and Human Services
    • Mr Simon Critchley (QLD), Director, Radiation Health, Queensland Health
    • Ms Hazel Upton (WA), Radiation Control Officer, Radiation Health Unit, Department of Health
    • Dr Stephen Newbury (TAS), Senior Health Physicist, Department of Health and Human Services
    • Mr Len Potapof (NSW), Manager Radiation Regulation Unit, NSW Environment Protection Authority
       
  • Nuclear Safety Committee representative

    Mr Robert Lyon (QLD), nuclear safety expert, formerly with Atomic Energy of Canada Limited and the IAEA
     
  • Person to represent the interests of the general public

    Dr Peter Karamoskos (VIC), radiologist and nuclear medicine specialist
     
  • Other members
    • Dr Bruce Hocking, consulting specialist in occupational medicine.

During 2016–17, the committee considered and discussed:

Matters of public interest

An item of public interest reported to the committee was related to unauthorised personnel requesting diagnostic imaging. It was noted that the practice in some hospitals had developed that, when the medical practitioner caring for a patient is not on-site they may, over the telephone, request that a nurse (or clerk) submit a request for a diagnostic radiological procedure. The request may not contain the necessary clinical information that radiologists need to be satisfied that the procedure is appropriate or justified. There may be an expectation to accept such a request, to avoid delaying the patient’s treatment. It appears that this procedure is becoming more widespread and needs to be managed. The Committee noted that the Code of Practice for Radiation Protection in the Medical applications of Ionizing Radiation (RPS 14) (the Medical Code) clearly defines the responsibilities of the referring medical practitioner and the radiologist. This practice appears to be contrary to the requirements of the Medical Code. RHC considered it to be a matter for state regulators to ensure compliance with the Medical Code.

ARPANSA developed a national uniform approach to providing information to the public on radiation protection. For example, to disseminate information to a targeted audience ARPANSA circulated advisory notes in the following areas: 

  • New Radon Progeny Dose Conversion Factors: Implications for the radiation protection of workers in the uranium mining industry
  • New Radon Progeny Dose Conversion Factors: Implications for the radiation protection of workers in Australian show caves.

Members noted and commended the ARPANSA advisory notes on issues related to the implications arising from the International Commission of Radiological Protection’s expected changes to the dose coefficients for radon and radon progeny.

International Atomic Energy Commission (IAEA) Integrated Regulatory Review Service (IRRS) Mission

Members noted that all state and territory regulators confirmed their participation in the IAEA IRRS mission to Australia in 2018.

Development of regulatory codes and standards

During the year the National Directory for Radiation Protection (NDRP) was republished. This edition incorporated requirements and limits for the disposal of radioactive waste by the user (Amendment 7). 

Members noted that despite the existence of the NDRP there are still factors that adversely impact businesses and individuals who operate radiation practices in multiple jurisdictions in Australia. Members agreed to further develop the options to redesign Australia’s radiation regulatory system and endorsed the vision for national uniformity, which is: Seamless experience for business and individuals conducting safe radiation practices across Australia.

The redesigned options include but are not limited to:

  • making the NDRP more effective
  • harmonised laws (model or template legislation)
  • single law and regulatory system delivered by Commonwealth, state and territory regulators
  • a single national regulator.

During the year ARPANSA published the Code for Radiation Protection in Planned Exposure Situations (RPS C-1). The Code is based on the relevant requirements of the IAEA’s Radiation Protection and safety of Radioactive Sources: International Basis Safety Standards General Safety Requirements Part 3, GSR Part 3 (IAEA 2014) and ICRP’s Publication 103, The 2007 Recommendations of the International Commission on Radiological Protection

The Guide for Radiation Protection in Existing Exposure Situations, Radiation Protection Series G-2 had been recommended for publication.

The draft Medical Exposure Code is in the process of revision taking into account the feedback from relevant jurisdictions. The Guide for Radiation Protection in Emergency Exposure situations is being revised and will be released for public consultation. The guidance document on intense pulsed light and laser use in the cosmetics industry is being finalised and is under assessment in terms of any compliance requirement for clearance by the Office of Best Practice Regulation. This document will provide a common framework for terminology, education, training, equipment, patient care and injury reporting.

At the end of the year the Committee was working on the following documents:

  • Code for Industrial Radiography Licence Conditions
  • Code for Near-surface Disposal of Radioactive Waste in Australia
  • Code for Security of radioactive Sources
  • Radiation Protection Standard for Maximum Exposure Levels to Radiofrequency Fields – 3 kHz to 300 GHz (RPS 3).
Australian Radiation Incident Register (ARIR)

ARPANSA published an overview of the 2015 incident reports to the ARIR in December 2016. The number of incident reports indicated generally improved reporting levels. This is in all likelihood a reflection of improved reporting, not an increase in the number of incidents. ARPANSA implemented a new digital database with direct access for the states and territories. This allows for more effective analysis of incident trends and offers a more valuable source of information that can be used to promote best practices.

Operations of the Nuclear Safety Committee

During 2016–17, the Nuclear Safety Committee (NSC) met on three occasions. Summaries of the meetings can be found on the ARPANSA website at arpansa.gov.au/nsc-minutes.

The NSC is appointed on a three year term ending December 2017.

The chair and members for the 2015–17 triennium are:

  • Chair

    Dr Tamie Weaver (VIC), Technical Director – Hydrogeology, environmental resources management consultancy|
     
  • CEO of ARPANSA

    Dr Carl-Magnus Larsson (Commonwealth)
     
  • Radiation Health Committee representative (RHC)

    Dr Barbara Shields represented the RHC up until October 2016 when she retired from the committee. Dr Peter Karamoskos, now represents the RHC.
     
  • Local Government representative

    Mr Ian Drinnan (NSW) Principal Environmental Scientist, Sutherland Shire Council
     
  • Person to represent the interests of the general public

    Mr Christopher Tola (NSW) Grants Officer, local government authority
  • Other members:

    • Ms Kerrie Christian (NSW), metallurgist with background in governance, safety and reliability
    • Mr Tony Irwin (NSW), engineer with experience in nuclear power and research reactor operations; commissioning; training and regulatory interaction
    • Dr Rob Lee (ACT), human factors, systems safety and risk management expert with experience of aviation and other high technology industries
    • Mr Robert Lyon (QLD), nuclear safety expert, formerly with Atomic Energy of Canada Limited and the IAEA
    • Mr Don Macnab (NSW), former Director, Regulatory and Policy Branch, ARPANSA
    • Mr Peter Wilkinson (ACT), consultant in safety management and safety culture in hazardous industries
    • Dr Peter Karamoskos (VIC), practicing radiologist and nuclear medicine specialist.

During 2016–17, the committee considered and discussed:

Regulatory Performance Framework self‑assessment 

ARPANSA conducted an annual self-assessment of its regulatory effectiveness against six RPF key performance indicators in July 2016. This self‑assessment is a requirement of the RPF. The NSC was tasked to review and validate the self-assessment report. The NSC was satisfied with the approach and methodology, and considered the use of stakeholders as part of the review team as a positive initiative. The NSC provided valuable feedback on the report which was incorporated into the final version. This report is published on both the ARPANSA and Department of Health websites.

In March 2017 the NSC endorsed the proposed new measures to be used from 1 July 2017 against the key performance indicators used for the Government Regulator Performance Framework. The NSC supported the updates including a balance of quantitative and qualitative indicators.

National Radioactive Waste Management Facility

ARPANSA kept the NSC updated on activities relating to the planned National Radioactive Waste Management Facility. ARPANSA is continuing to work with the community near the identified site. This is completely separate to the formal public consultation which would commence once an application is received. The NSC provided valuable feedback on the documentation and guides published this financial year.

The NSC wrote to the CEO of ARPANSA under paragraph 26(1)(d) of the ARPANS Act regarding the resourcing for the National Radioactive Waste Management Facility ongoing stakeholder engagement plan (4 November 2016).

Update on controlled facilities

ARPANSA kept the NSC informed on developments associated with controlled facilities. This included the operation of the ANSTO OPAL reactor, the construction of the new ANSTO Nuclear Medicine facility, and recent works relating to the radiological characterisation of the shutdown High Flux Australian Reactor.