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Environment Protection Authority

EPA fines Council for unlicensed radioactive sources

Media release: 7 November 2016

The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has issued the Shoalhaven City Council with a fine of $1,500 for not holding the appropriate licence to own two gauges each containing a sealed radioactive source.

EPA Executive Director of Hazardous Incidents and Environmental Health Sarah Gardner said in NSW anyone who uses or manages radioactive substances, sources or radiation apparatus must hold a licence with the EPA.

A sealed radioactive source is radioactive material that is permanently sealed or encapsulated in a stainless steel container that meets international safety standards. These are commonly used in medicine, industry, construction and engineering.

“The Shoalhaven City Council had two gauges containing a sealed radioactive source used for engineering works, mainly in road construction. These sealed sources are considered low risk and have been securely stored and unused since 2011.

“The Council had registered the gauges up until 2011 as required at the time, but then let the registrations lapse. Council then failed to obtain a radiation management licence when the new licencing system commenced in NSW from 2013, which applies to anyone possessing a sealed radioactive source.

“Licences restrict access to the radioactive sources to authorised persons throughout the life of the product to reduce any risk to the environment or community. Although Council were not using the gauges they still require a licence while in their possession.”

The EPA issued the penalty notice on 27 October 2016 and also issued the Council with consent to dispose of the gauge at an appropriate facility.

The EPA administers the Radiation Control Act which regulates the use, sale, possession, handling and disposal of regulated material such as sealed radioactive sources and ionising radiation apparatus.

Penalty Notices are one of a number of tools the EPA can use to achieve environmental compliance including formal warnings, official cautions, licence conditions, notices and directions and prosecutions.

For more information about the EPA’s regulatory tools, see the EPA Compliance Policy http://www.epa.nsw.gov.au/legislation/prosguid.htm.

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Contact: Public Affairs

Page last updated: 07 November 2016