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2017–18 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 2017–18, the Radiation Health and Safety Advisory Council (the Council) met on two occasions. Summaries of the meetings can be found at: arpansa.gov.au/rhsac-minutes.

The membership as at 30 June 2018 was:

  • Chair

Dr Roger Allison* (QLD), Radiation Oncologist (former 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
    • Dr Stephen Newbery (TAS), Principal Health Physicist, Tasmanian Department of Health and Human Services
  • Nominee of the Chief Minister of NT
    • Dr Hugh Heggie, 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
    • Ms Melissa Holzberger (QLD), Director and Principal – Sloan Holzberger Lawyers
    • Professor Pamela Sykes* (SA), Professor Preventive Cancer Biology, Flinders University
    • Dr Melanie Taylor* (NSW), Senior Lecturer Organisational Psychology, Macquarie University.

* reappointed 1 April 2018 for three-month term

During 2017–18, Council considered and discussed:

  • ARPANSA’s activities to promote UVR protection, including further areas of opportunity. At the March 2018 meeting Council held a special session on the health impacts of UVR, and potential role of ARPANSA in promoting the health benefits of UVR protection. Various eminent guest speakers presented, including from Cancer Council, the Bureau of Meteorology, and QIMR Berghofer. Cancer Australia’s CEO also attended as an observer. Council agreed that ARPANSA has a key role to play as a coordinator within Commonwealth, and in seeking agreement between jurisdictions, to form the reliable advice and unified messaging that is needed for awareness campaigns
  • a radiation risk management concept for​​​​​​​ ARPANSA, to be incorporated into ARPANSA​​​​​​​ publications
  • ARPANSA’s emergency preparedness and response strategy, including its potential role in providing advice on radiological emergencies, and particularly the importance of providing information, education and awareness prior to an emergency
  • regulatory issues around naturally occurring radioactive material, such as the type encountered in the mining industry
  • ARPANSA’s media strategy
  • a proposed scientific and technical knowledge and skills framework for the agency
  • a draft Code for Disposal of Solid Radioactive Waste (Radiation Protection Series C-3)
  • the issue of sustainable funding for​​​​​​​ ARPANSA activities to maintain an Australian electromagnetic (EME) program, which exists to address public concerns about​​​​​​​ EME radiation from current and emerging sources such as powerlines or 5G technology. Council wrote to ARPANSA’s CEO supporting​​​​​​​ ARPANSA’s continued efforts to address this issue
  • the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Integrated Regulatory Review Services (IRRS) mission to Australia scheduled for November 2018
  • a draft Code for Radiation Protection Requirements for Industrial Radiography (Radiation Protection Series C-4).

Council also wrote to the CEO of ARPANSA​​​​​​​ supporting efforts to pursue as a priority a Radiation Health Committee project to consider options for a redesign of Australia’s radiation regulatory system in order to improve national uniformity.

Operations of the Radiation Health Committee

During 2017–18, the Radiation Health Committee (RHC) met on two 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 2018. The membership as at 30 June 2018 was:

  • Chair
    • Dr Roslyn Drummond (VIC), Radiation Oncologist, 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
    • Associate Professor Tony Hooker (SA), Principal Advisor, Radiation Health, Radiation Protection Branch, 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 Newbery (TAS), Senior Health Physicist, Department of Health and Human Services
    • Mr Mark Carey (NSW), Principal Policy Officer, NSW Environment Protection Authority
  • Nuclear Safety Committee representative
    • Dr Joanna Wriedt (VIC), Member Victorian Government’s Radiation Advisory Committee
  • Person to represent the interests of the general public
    • Ms Fay Bellis (VIC), Quality Management System Consultant
  • Other members
    • Dr Bruce Hocking, consulting specialist in occupational medicine.

Additionally, the following members served in the 2015–2017 triennium, until December 2017:

  • Radiation Control Officer
    • 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.

During 2017–18, the committee considered and discussed:

Radon dose coefficients

ARPANSA published an advisory note on New dose coefficients for radon progeny: impact on workers and the public taking into account the recently published dose coefficients published by the International Council on Radiation Protection (ICRP). This advisory note provides an explanation of the new estimates of lung cancer risk from radon progeny and what it means in the Australian context. The audience target are regulators, radiation safety officers, hygienists and industry sectors that need to mitigate radon. The RHC issued a statement on New radon dose coefficients: implications for worker dose assessments, which is published on our website at: arpansa.gov.au/radonstatement. The Radiation Health Committee recommends the application of the new International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) dose coefficients when assessing radon and radon progeny exposures of workers in Australia. This information is applicable to 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.

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 2nd Edition of the National Directory for Radiation Protection (NDRP) was finalised for endorsement by the RHC followed by submission to the Australian Health Ministers’ Advisory Council and Council of Australian Governments Health Council. This is a revised version rather than continuation of the amendments, and the revised NDRP would be referred to as the National Directory for Radiation Protection, 2nd Edition. The scope and purpose of this document remained unchanged and are captured in the sub-title, an agreed framework for nationally consistent radiation protection, policies and practices. Considering the importance of the Code for the Disposal of Radioactive Waste by the User incorporated in Schedule 14 of the NDRP, the RHC agreed to publish this schedule as a standalone code. There has been no material change compared to Schedule 14 of the current NDRP. This code sets out the requirements for disposal and discharge values for the disposal of radioactive material to landfill, and discharge into sewers and the atmosphere, below which no authorisation normally would be required, from the relevant regulatory authority, and below which disposal can normally be performed safely.

During the year ARPANSA finalised the following documents for publication:

  • Code for Radiation Protection Requirements for Industrial Radiography
  • Code for Disposal Facilities for Solid Radioactive Waste.

Stakeholder consultation on the draft Medical Exposure Code is complete. Stakeholders’ comments are in the process of resolution. The Guide for Radiation Protection in Emergency Exposure situations is under public consultation. The guidance document on intense pulsed light and laser use in the cosmetics industry is being finalised and will be released early in 2018–19 for public consultation. This document will provide a common framework for terminology, education, training, equipment, patient care and injury reporting.

The Committee approved the Australian National Radiation Dose Register (ANRDR) as a central record keeping agency as noted in the Code for Radiation Protection for Planned Exposure Situations RPS C-1 (note: WA agreed in principle but is awaiting legal advice). The Committee agreed to revise the Code for Safe Transport of Radioactive Material RPS C-2 incorporating the 2018 Edition of IAEA Regulations for Safe Transport of Radioactive Material. The revision of this Code is in the process of finalisation.

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

  • Radiation Protection Standard for Maximum Exposure Levels to Radiofrequency Fields – 3 kHz to 300 GHz (RPS 3)
  • Australian Guidance on Radiological Consideration of Closure, Handover and Post Closure Monitoring and Surveillance Practices.

Matters of public interest

The following items of public interest have been discussed at the RHC:

  • community consultation about the proposed National Radioactive Waste Management Facility in the Hawker area
  • research into the potential occupational dose to eyes for radiologists that emphasises the need for practitioners to wear lead glasses
  • Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission receiving a public consultation award for its engagement with the indigenous community.

Operations of the Nuclear Safety Committee

During 2017–18, 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.

Following a public call for nominations, the NSC members were appointed for a three-year term commencing January 2018.

The membership as at 30 June 2018 was:

  • Chair
    • Dr Tamie Weaver, Technical Director –​​​​​​​ Hydrogeology, environmental resources management consultancy (re-appointed)
  • CEO of ARPANSA​​​​​​​
    • Dr Carl-Magnus Larsson (re-appointed)
  • Radiation Health Committee representative
    • Ms Fay Bellis, member of the Radiation Health Committee (member since Jan 2018)
  • Local Government representative
    • Mr Ian Drinnan, Principal Environmental Scientist, Sutherland Shire Council (re‑appointed)
  • Person to represent the interests of the general public
    • Dr Joanna Wriedt, experience in commercial law, government and medical research (member since Jan 2018)
  • Other members:
    • Ms Kerrie Christian, metallurgist with background in governance, safety and reliability (re-appointed)
    • Mr Tony Irwin, engineer with experience in nuclear power and research reactor operations, commissioning, training and regulatory interaction (re-appointed)
    • Dr John Loy, radiation protection and nuclear safety regulatory expert, with extensive experience internationally and in Australia (member since Jan 2018)
    • Mr Don Macnab, former Director, Regulatory and Policy Branch, ARPANSA​​​​​​​
    • Mr Stuart Parr, radiation protection advisor with experience in safety engineering and management including advice on nuclear regulatory compliance internationally (member since Jan 2018)
    • Mr Peter Wilkinson, consultant in safety management and safety culture in hazardous industries (re-appointed).

Dr Rob Lee AO, long-standing member of the​​​​​​​ NSC, passed away peacefully on 27 April 2018. Dr Lee was a renowned expert in, among other things, aviation safety, organisational psychology and safety culture. His advice to ARPANSA on a number of complex issues was invaluable. The NSC and ARPANSA will miss his wisdom as well as his kind and considerate personality.

Additionally the following members served in the 2015–2017 triennium, until December 2017:

  • Person to represent the interests of the general public
    • Christopher Tola, Grants Officer, local government authority
  • Other members:
    • Dr Peter Karamoskos, practising radiologist and nuclear medicine specialist
    • Mr Robert Lyon (QLD), nuclear safety expert, formerly with Atomic Energy of Canada Limited and the IAEA.

During 2017–18, the committee considered and discussed:

Regulator Performance Framework (RPF) self‑assessment

ARPANSA conducted an annual self-assessment of its regulatory effectiveness against six RPF key performance indicators in July 2017. 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.

Review of regulatory documentation

The NSC reviewed and provided comment on a number of key ARPANSA documents including:

  • the regulatory guide for decommissioning
  • the application documentation and supplied risk assessments on the new ANSTO Nuclear Medicine (ANM) facility operation licence
  • proposed enforcement approaches.

Update on controlled facilities

ARPANSA kept the NSC informed on developments associated with controlled facilities. This included the operation of the ANSTO OPAL reactor, ANSTO Health, and the new ANM facility.