Updating the Radiation Protection and Control Act
In late 2013 the EPA undertook public consultation on the draft Radiation Protection and Control Bill to update the Radiation Protection and Control Act 1982.
The response to submissions is now available, along with a revised version of the draft Bill.
The future progress of the Bill is subject to the determination of the government of the day and its ministers. Cabinet approval is required for the Bill to be introduced to Parliament. It must then be debated and approved by both houses of Parliament and further changes may occur during this time. Following Parliamentary approval, the Bill must be proclaimed by the Governor for it to become an Act of Parliament and come into effect.
The Radiation Protection and Control Act regulates activities involving radiation sources and provides for the protection of people and the environment from the harmful effects of radiation. The draft Bill seeks to update administrative and enforcement provisions, which have not been reviewed since the Act’s commencement in 1982, and implement national commitments for consistent legislation and improved security of radioactive sources.
The key changes in the Bill are:
- Financial assurances (clause 42) to ensure there is a financial safety net in instances where, for example, a business goes into liquidation and cannot afford to safely dispose of radiation sources, or where a radiation incident has occurred and the remediation costs exceed what the business can afford.
- Death, bankruptcy, etc of holder of an authority (clause 53) to clarify who is to be the next holder of an authority if the holder dies, becomes bankrupt, insolvent or placed under administration.
- Offence to abandon radiation source (clause 33). This new clause ensures that sources are not intentionally or recklessly abandoned, creating a potential safety or security risk, particularly when the ownership of the source is in question.
- Responsible person—references to and the definition of the ‘responsible person’ have been removed.
- Maximum penalties have been increased with regard to the nature of the legislation and the particular offences they relate to, on the basis of the worst possible offence which could occur. The Bill, and maximum penalties, will be subject to further scrutiny by Cabinet and Parliament before becoming legislation.