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Australian Government - Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Advancing the interests of Australia and Australians internationally

Australian Government - Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Advancing the interests of Australia and Australians internationally

Australian Safeguards and Non-Proliferation Office

Annual Report 1999-2000

Nuclear Regulation in Australia

Australia has two nuclear regulatory agencies: ASNO and ARPANSAthe Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency.

ASNO is responsible for nuclear safeguards and physical protection: ensuring that nuclear materials and nuclear itemsfacilities, equipment, technology and nuclear-related materialsare appropriately regulated and accounted for. An important part of this responsibility is ensuring that Australias treaty commitments are met, particularly that nuclear activities are conducted for exclusively peaceful purposes.

ASNOs responsibilities cover nuclear materialsuranium, thorium and plutoniumnot radioactive materials as such. ASNOs legislation applies to all persons or organisations in Australian jurisdiction having relevant materials, items or technology. Principally this applies to ANSTO, as Australias only nuclear operator, but also covers a diverse range of other entities including the uranium mines and associated transport and storage operations, private sector laboratories, educational institutions, and patent attorneys. ASNOs activities are based on a number of constitutional heads of power, especially external affairs (meeting treaty requirements).

ARPANSA is a new Commonwealth agency (established in 1999), charged with responsibility for protecting the health and safety of people, and the environment, from the harmful effects of radiation (ionizing and non-ionizing). ARPANSAs responsibilities include:

  • Promoting uniformity of radiation protection and nuclear safety policy and practices across jurisdictions of the Commonwealth, the States and the Territories;
  • Providing advice to Government and the community on radiation protection;
  • Providing advice to Government and the community on nuclear safetyreactors and visits by nuclear powered warships;
  • Undertaking research and providing services in relation to radiation protection, nuclear safety and medical exposures to radiation;
  • Regulating radiation protection and nuclear safety aspects of all Commonwealth entities involved in radiation or nuclear activities or dealings; and
  • Approval of imports of radioactive material.

The limitation of ARPANSAs general regulatory powers to Commonwealth entities reflects the situation that in Australia the primary constitutional responsibility for radiation health and safety matters rests with the State governments.

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Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade