Environmental monitoring at the Australian Nuclear Science & Technology Organisation (ANSTO)

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International Atomic Energy Agency
The Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) operates several facilities, including Australia’s only research reactor, HIFAR, carrying out production of radiopharmaceuticals and research in nuclear science and technology. ANSTO is an agency of the Commonwealth of Australia. Most ANSTO facilities are at the Lucas Heights Science and Technology Centre (LHSTC), surrounded by a 1.6 km buffer zone, about 40 km southwest of Sydney. ANSTO also operates the National Medical Cyclotron (NMC), located on the grounds of Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Camberdown, Sydney, which produces shortlived radioisotopes for medical investigations. ANSTO is committed to undertaking its activities in a manner that protects human health and the environment and is consistent with national and international standards and our activities are regulated by the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency [1] under the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Act (1998). ANSTO has a comprehensive monitoring programme for the main pathways for potential exposure from routine and accidental releases for radioactivity. Annually, approximately 6000 samples are taken and some 10,000 analyses are performed. ANSTO monitors the amounts of airborne emissions, the radioactive and non-radioactive contaminants released to the sewer and subsequently to local coastal waters, the quality of stormwater leaving the site, the quality of groundwater and soils and sediment in the general vicinity. The principal sources of potential radiation exposure to members of the general public from routine ANSTO operations at the LHSTC and National Medical Cyclotron are from airborne emissions and low- level liquid effluent discharges. The effective dose rate to a hypothetical individual potentially exposed to radiation in routine airborne discharges from the LHSTC during the 2002-03 fiscal year was less than 0.006 mSv/year, based on stack discharge data and concurrent meteorological information. This effective dose is well below the ALARA objective of 0.02 mSv/year and less than 1% of the public dose rate limit of 1 mSv/year for long term exposure that is recommended by the Australian Occupational Health and Safety Commission. It is also less than 1% of the natural background annual dose in Australia of about 1.5 mSv/year [2]. Thermoluminescent dosimeters placed around the LHSTC and at some local residences also demonstrate that the external gamma radiation levels at residential locations in the vicinity of the LHSTC were at normal background levels and not noticeably affected by ANSTO operations. ANSTO operations at the LHSTC and the NMC make only a very small addition to the background radiation dose, even for the comparatively few members of the public identified as potentially exposed to radionuclides entering the environment from the ANSTO sites. The results of the monitoring programme are published annually in documents within the series Environmental and Effluent Monitoring at ANSTO Sites [3 and references therein], copies of which are available in the local Sutherland Shire Central Library and on request from the ANSTO Communications Manager. The environmental and effluent monitoring programme at ANSTO is very much a team effort and acknowledgment goes to all associated staff for their valuable contributions.
ANSTO, New South Wales, Ecological concentration, Radioisotopes, Human populations, Radiopharmaceuticals, ARPANSA, Environment, Reactor sites, Radiation doses
Ferris, J., Harrison, J., Hoffmann, E., Payne, T. E. & Szymczak, R. (2004). Environmental monitoring at the Australian Nuclear Science & Technology Organisation (ANSTO). In Proccedings of an international conference held held in Monaco, 25–29 October 2004 organized by the International Atomic Energy Agency and co-sponsored by the Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics, International Hydrological Programme of UNESCO, Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO and the Commission Internationale pour l’Exploration Scientifique de la Mer Méditerranée, "Isotopes in Environmental Studies Aquatic Forum 2004". (pp. 292-293). Retrieved from https://www-pub.iaea.org/MTCD/Publications/PDF/CSP_26_web.pdf