1 June 2023

ARPANSA’s Radiation Monitoring Networks (RMN) team has resumed scheduled visits to the Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) radionuclide monitoring station on the remote Pacific nation of Kiribati.

The station is part of an international network of more than 320 monitoring stations that aim to ensure no nuclear explosion goes undetected.

ARPANSA technical officers David Hardman and Jane McLeish travelled to Kiribati to provide training and support to local contractors and to conduct critical maintenance and repairs to the station. 

‘Radionuclide monitoring stations are a critical part of international efforts to deter nuclear weapons testing that could cause harm to people and the environment,’ said Mr Hardman.

‘Kiribati is a key location in the CTBT network due to its remoteness and its quite central location in the Pacific Ocean.’

ARPANSA is responsible for the operations of a total of 9 radionuclide monitoring stations in Australia, Antarctica and the Pacific region as part of Australia’s commitment to the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT). In addition, ARPANSA’s experts work closely with colleagues in the Australian Safeguards and Non-Proliferation Office (ASNO) to ensure that Australia’s international obligations are met through the CTBT.

The stations filter air to collect particulate matter which is analysed for the presence of specific radionuclides that indicate a nuclear explosion has occurred. This material can then be traced using meteorological data to investigate the potential location of a radiological release.

‘Travel restrictions relating to the COVID-19 pandemic impacted our maintenance schedule, so it is great to be able to get back to Kiribati to perform this critical maintenance,’ said Mr Hardman.

‘Fortunately, the local contractors have been able to keep the station running with at least 95% data availability, which is impressive given the circumstances and the long periods of isolation,' Mr Hardman added.

Maintenance work included critical repairs and upgrades to power systems, air sampling equipment and gamma radiation detectors.

ARPANSA’s involvement in the CTBT program is a core element of its commitment to nuclear safety on an international scale, as we work to protect people and the environment from the harmful effects of radiation.

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