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ARPANSA establishing radiation monitoring network

26 July 2018

The Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) is establishing a network of radiation detectors to monitor Australian ports to assist in the national preparedness for a visiting nuclear-powered warship accident. Australian ports regularly receive visits from the naval vessels of friendly nations, some of which are nuclear-powered. These visits are often the most visible aspect of the defence cooperation between Australia and other countries in peacetime.

In the unlikely event of an accident, Australia has adopted arrangements which require radiation monitoring of the nuclear-powered vessel while it is berthed at port. This monitoring program has two components: environmental monitoring to detect the release of any radioactive material to the environment; and direct radiation monitoring of the vicinity of the nuclear-powered vessel to provide warning of any malfunction which may result in a release of radioactivity.

ARPANSA is establishing the Australian Radiation Monitoring System (ARMS) to monitor the environment when Australian ports receive a visiting nuclear-powered vessel. The automated system will be an early warning system in the event of a radiological release from a visiting vessel and will be able to provide valuable data before, during and after a nuclear accident. The real-time data generated by ARMS will be accessible to the public via an interactive chart that will be available on our website once the network is installed.

While initially setting up stations in Western Australia, Northern Territory, and Queensland, we will also set up a monitoring station at the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation’s Lucas Heights facilities. ARPANSA intends to complete installation of the detectors before the end of 2018.

More information about planning for visits from nuclear-powered warships is available on our website. Find out more about the monitoring results for nuclear-powered warship visits, and how this monitoring is conducted.