How will my application be assessed?

Confirmation of valid application

Once an application has been submitted, it will be examined to ensure that it is in a form approved by the CEO of ARPANSA and accompanied by the prescribed fee. The applicant will receive a letter of acknowledgment and matters that relate to the form of the application will be raised as necessary.

Applications that are deemed to be complete will be forwarded to an ARPANSA regulatory officer for assessment. Where matters require clarification the regulatory officer will contact the applicant directly. The regulatory officer may consider that an inspection/site visit is necessary and may contact the applicant to make arrangements.

Matters that the CEO will take into account when assessing an application

The Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Act 1998 (the Act) and Regulations require the CEO to take the following matters into account when assessing a licence application:

  • International best practice in radiation protection and nuclear safety (see below)
  • Whether the application includes the information asked for by the CEO
  • Whether the information establishes that the controlled apparatus, material or the conduct can be dealt with without undue risk to the health and safety of people, and the environment
  • Whether the applicant has shown that there is a net benefit from dealing with the controlled apparatus, controlled material or controlled facility
  • Whether the applicant has shown that the magnitude of individual doses, the number of people exposed and the likelihood that potential exposures will actually occur is as low as reasonably achievable (ALARA), having regard to economic and social factors
  • Whether the applicant has shown a capacity for complying with the regulations and the licence conditions that would be imposed under Section 35 of the Act
  • Whether the application has been signed by the applicant

Consideration of international best practice

Sub-sections 32(3) and 33(3) of the Act require the CEO to take into account international best practice in relation to radiation protection and nuclear safety when making a decision whether to issue a licence. International best practice is also taken into account where relevant when making other regulatory decisions.

International Best Practice is not defined in the Act but is generally accepted to be the principles underlying the best safety and security policies and practices across the world’s radiation and nuclear industries. These principles are published by prominent organisations, such as the International Atomic Energy Agency, World Health Organization, International Commission on Radiological Protection, and International Commission on Non‑Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP), reflecting a consensus of what is regarded as the highest standards of safety to protect people and the environment from the harmful effects of radiation. See International best practice for more information.

The assessment of an application will in most cases include a review against relevant international standards and guidance. Such comparison will be commensurate with the risk of the proposed activity. The CEO will take into account whether international best practice has been considered by the applicant and demonstrated in the plans and arrangements for managing the safety of the conduct or dealing for which the licence is sought.

The CEO will also take into account international best practice to ensure that the role and actions of ARPANSA with regard to assessment of an application are consistent with those expected of the regulatory body.

Section 84 of the Act requires the CEO to have regard to relevant international agreements as prescribed in Schedule 5 of the Regulations. In addition, the CEO will take into account the following agreements, to which Australia is a party:

  • Convention on Nuclear Safety
  • Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management
  • Convention on Assistance in Case of a Nuclear Accident or Radiological Emergency
  • Convention on Early Notification of a Nuclear Accident
  • Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (and the 2005 amendment)
  • International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism (Nuclear Terrorism Convention)
  • Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty
  • The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons
  • Agreement between Australia and the IAEA for the application of safeguards in connection with the Treaty on the Non‑Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons

Application processing time

Assessment of an application will NOT commence until the appropriate fee is received.

The time taken to process an application will vary depending on its complexity and completeness. The review of an application for a low hazard source will generally not take more than two working days; the process is fast tracked using Source Licence Application Form - low hazard source. The processing time for other applications is agreed with the applicant on submission.

Issuing a licence

The licence will be issued in the name of a Commonwealth Department or Agency. All applicable licence conditions will be attached to the licence.

The licence remains in force until cancelled or surrendered.