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Radiation exposure of a worker at ANSTO Health – report to Parliament

27 February 2018

On Monday 26 February 2018 a report by the CEO of ARPANSA, Dr Carl-Magnus Larsson, was tabled in Parliament addressing the radiation exposure of a worker at the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) Health radiopharmaceuticals production facility at Lucas Heights.

The report provides an overview of an accident that led to the contamination of a worker at ANSTO Health on 22 August 2017. The accident occurred during a routine quality control procedure and caused radiation exposure of the analyst’s hands. Tissue reactions that subsequently developed on the worker’s hands are compatible with a radiation dose about 40 times higher than the statutory annual equivalent dose limit to the skin.

ARPANSA classified the exposure as a ‘serious incident’ corresponding to Level 3 on the International Radiological and Nuclear Event Scale (INES). The INES scale ranges from zero (with no safety significance) to 7 (major accident).

Dr Larsson found ANSTO in breach of section 30(2) of the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Act 1998 for failing to comply with the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Regulations 1999, specifically regulation 46 (in relation to measures to prevent accidents) and regulation 48 (in relation to dose limits). Further regulatory enforcement actions may still be considered.

ARPANSA has requested ANSTO to implement changes to internal processes to prevent a similar event reoccurring. ARPANSA is monitoring ANSTO’s implementation of these changes and has shared information on the event with Comcare.

The report was tabled in Parliament on Monday 26 February 2018, and can also be found below.

Report to parliament: Radiation exposure of a worker at ANSTO Health, Lucas Heights on 22 August 2017