NSW Environment Protection Authority and University of Sydney

University of Sydney pleads guilty and is convicted for offences against the Radiation Control Act 1990 and the Radiation Control Regulation 2013.

The University of Sydney (“the University”) has pleaded guilty and been convicted by the Land and Environment Court of NSW for offences under section 6(6) of the Radiation Control Act 1990 (“RC Act”) and clause 34(1) of the Radiation Control Regulation 2013.

The convictions relate to an incident which occurred in January 2019 in which the University engaged a contractor to decommission and dispose of a positron emission tomography scanner which contained a sealed radioactive caesium-137 source (“the Source”). The University was required to obtain consent from the EPA’s Chairperson to dispose of the Source, and to ensure that it was not given to or possessed by any person who did not hold an appropriate licence. It did not do so.

The Source was transported from the University’s premises in Camperdown NSW to a scrap metal yard in Chipping Norton NSW by a company which was not licensed under the RC Act to transport it.

The Source was subsequently sent from Chipping Norton to another scrap metal yard in Hexham NSW, where it was detected via a radiation alarm and reported to the EPA. No actual harm was caused to the environment or any person as a result of the offences and the Source remained in its protective casing at all times. There is no suggestion the offences were intentional or caused by negligence or recklessness.

The University was prosecuted by the EPA and pleaded guilty to the two offences. On 14 April 2022, the Court ordered the University to:

  1. pay a fine of $61,000, with 50% of the fine to be paid to the EPA as a moiety;
  2. pay the EPA’s legal costs as agreed or assessed; and
  3. cause this notice to be published in the Sydney Morning Herald, the ARPS Quarterly Newsletter, on its website and posted on Facebook.

The Court’s judgement can be accessed here: Environment Protection Authority v University of Sydney – NSW Caselaw.

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