ARPANSA’s independent monitoring and verification program – ANSTO Lucas Heights
In 2019 ARPANSA established a monitoring and verification program. The aim of the program is to independently assess licence holder’s environmental monitoring programs and verify reported results.
The Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) is authorised to discharge small quantities of radioactivity into the environment at the Lucas Heights site near Sydney. These discharges are released in gaseous form to the atmosphere via stacks, and in liquid form via the sewage system. These discharges are planned, controlled releases of radioactive substances that occur as part of the normal operation of the ANSTO facilities.
ANSTO is required to monitor the discharges as they occur and report periodically to ARPANSA on the discharges, and promptly if a notification level is exceeded. The notification levels are set conservatively, well below the level of release that could result in a member of the public exceeding an annual dose limit. ANSTO also shares radiation monitoring information with the public on the ANSTO website.
ANSTO has an established environmental monitoring program and provides reports detailing the measurements to ARPANSA on a quarterly basis. ARPANSA has also commenced an independent environmental monitoring program. The independent measurements obtained by ARPANSA are compared against the values measured by ANSTO. This is done to provide additional assurance that the results reported by ANSTO are accurate and the community and environment are protected from harmful effects of radiation.
Environmental samples from the program are taken from stack discharge points (ambient air sampling) at Lucas Heights, wastewater discharged to the sewage system, groundwater and surface water, soil, sediment and vegetation.
The independent monitoring program is aimed at measuring specific radionuclides. These radionuclides have been selected following a review of what may be released from the operations conducted by ANSTO.