The Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Act 1998 (the Act) states that the CEO of ARPANSA must take into account international best practice in relation to radiation protection and nuclear safety when making licensing decisions. Although the ARPANS Act does not define the term international best practice, the CEO has taken it into account by, among other things, considering the codes, standards, recommendations and guides that are produced by the international organisations listed below. The publications produced by these organisations reflect an international consensus on what constitutes a high level of safety for the purpose of protecting people and the environment from the harmful effects of radiation.
United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR)
UNSCEAR reports yearly to the United Nations General Assembly on levels and effects of exposure to ionising radiation, and associated risks to the health of people and the environment. Governments and organisations throughout the world rely on UNSCEAR’s scientific evaluations as the basis for estimating radiation risks and for establishing protective measures. Australia is one of 27 UN Member States that participate in UNSCEAR’s work.
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
The IAEA is the world's centre for cooperation in the nuclear field. The Agency works with its Member States (including Australia) to promote the safe, secure and peaceful use of nuclear (and radiation) technologies. The IAEA Safety Standards provide a framework comprising Safety Fundamentals, Safety Requirements and Safety Guides. The IAEA also produces Nuclear Security Guidance and Technical Documents, and publishes the International Nuclear Safety Group (INSAG) Reports.
All IAEA publications are developed by an open and transparent process for gathering, synthesising and integrating the knowledge and experience gained from the actual use of nuclear or radiation technologies and from the application of the safety standards and security guidance, including knowledge of emerging trends and issues of regulatory importance. ARPANSA, on behalf of Australia, plays an active role in the development of IAEA standards and guidance.
World Health Organization (WHO)
The WHO is the directing and coordinating authority for health within the United Nations system. It is responsible for providing leadership on global health matters, including shaping the health research agenda, setting norms and standards, articulating evidence-based policy options, providing technical support to countries and monitoring and assessing health trends. It publishes guidelines and recommendations on health policies and clinical interventions. In terms of radiation protection, the WHO publishes guidelines on indoor radon, radiation in drinking water and radionuclides in food. There are also publications on radiation emergencies and information on the radiation accidents in Chernobyl and Fukushima. ARPANSA contributes to the work of WHO as a regional collaborating centre and in various working groups.
International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP)
The ICRP is an independent organisation that advances for the public benefit the science of radiological protection, in particular by providing recommendations and guidance on all aspects of protection against ionising radiation. Its recommendations have gained broad acceptance and been implemented in international and national frameworks for management of radiation risks. ARPANSA is a contributor to the work of the ICRP.
International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNRP)
ICNIRP is a body of independent scientific experts who provide information and advice on the potential health hazards from exposure to non-ionising radiation. Much of ICNIRP’s guidance is published in the form of scientific reviews and reports and the proceedings of scientific meetings. ARPANSA is a contributor to the work of ICNIRP.
Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)
The Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) is an intergovernmental agency that facilitates cooperation among countries with advanced nuclear technology infrastructures to seek excellence in nuclear safety, technology, science, environment, and law. In order to achieve this, the NEA works as a forum for sharing information and experience and promoting international cooperation; a centre of excellence which helps member countries to pool and maintain their technical expertise. Australia is a member of NEA and regularly participates in its activities.
The Australian Government’s policy on international standards and risk assessments
An international standard and risk assessment is not recommended for adoption by ARPANSA before its relevance and applicability in the Australian context has been assessed, documented and decided. The Australian Government’s policy on international standards and risk assessment states that portfolios need to work with stakeholder groups to identify criteria that take into account a number of considerations, including the applicability in the Australian context, and whether any necessary Australian specific conditions or circumstances warrant distinct regulatory standards and risk assessment processes.
ARPANSA promotes implementation in Australia of relevant international standards and risk assessments in consultation with stakeholders. Two parallel but interconnected processes are being followed: one that is directly related to Commonwealth entities regulated by ARPANSA and one that develops codes and guides to be used nationally across all jurisdictions and, as relevant, referenced in the National Directory for Radiation Protection (NDRP). The Radiation Health Committee plays a key role in the latter process.
Selected standards and risk assessment documents
The following register provides URL links to selected international standards (including documents that deal with risks) that may be considered for implementation, or to be relied on, in the Australian context.
Note 1: As Australia has a federal system of government, any reference in the material listed below to ‘State’ should be taken to mean the jurisdiction in which the guidance material will be used. References to the word ‘national’ such as in ‘national government’, ‘national framework’, ‘national policy’, ‘national legislation’, ‘national regulations’, or similar, in IAEA publications should also be taken, where appropriate, to mean the jurisdiction in which the guidance material will be used.
Note 2: Where a separate Australian publication has been produced on the basis of a document listed in the here, this will be indicated.