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Environment Protection Authority

Environmental Issues

Managing radiation in NSW

Security of radioactive sources - frequently asked questions

Why is the source security code being implemented in NSW?

The Code of Practice for the Security of Radioactive Sources forms part of the national strategy to address the security of radioactive sources and minimise the risk of such materials being misused. The NSW Government is committed to implementing the strategy to support Australia's counter-terrorism strategy.

What radioactive sources does the Code apply to?

The Code applies to sealed radioactive sources in Category 1, 2 or 3 security-enhanced sources according to the methodology in Schedule B of the Code.

How do I know if I have a security-enhanced source?

The category for each source is determined using the methodology specified in Schedule B of the Code.

Who must comply with the duties of responsible persons in the Code?

In NSW, the organisation that holds a licence to possess radioactive substances must comply with the duties of the responsible person referred to in the Code.

What do I have to do as a responsible person?

The responsible person ensures the implementation of the Code and associated security plans. These responsibilities include:

  • undertaking the categorisation of sources in accordance with section 2.1.1 of the Code and assigning a security category to these sources based on the methodology in Schedule B
  • ensuring that security outcomes applicable to the particular sources according to the Code are met during the use, storage or transport of Category 1, 2 and 3 sources
  • development, maintenance and compliance with Source Security Plans and, if required, Source Transport Security Plans that are endorsed by an independent assessor
  • verifying identities of relevant employees and organising security background checks and identity checks
  • monitoring and ensuring procedures are in place to update security arrangements according to the threat level for a radiological attack as set by the Australian Government
  • ensuring written approval from the appropriate regulatory authority is obtained before the transfer of ownership and the disposal of a security-enhanced source.

What are the responsibilities of employees and contractors?

A person other than the responsible person, who deals with a security-enhanced source, must comply with the organisation's source security plan.

The Code also requires individuals who deal with security-enhanced radioactive sources to have an identity check or a security background check in some cases.

How does the Code fit with the Radiation Control Act 1990?

The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) is giving effect to the Code through the inclusion of new conditions in licences to use radiation apparatus or radioactive substances, and licences to sell and/or possess radiation apparatus and radioactive substances issued under the Radiation Control Act 1990.

What is a source security plan?

A source security plan provides a comprehensive description of the security system surrounding use, transport and storage of a radioactive source and demonstrates how the responsible person will meet the requirements of the Code. This includes how risk-based security measures will be implemented to achieve the outcomes appropriate to the categorisation of the source as defined by the Code.

Who will endorse my source security plan?

The EPA has accredited independent radiation security assessors to review source security plans or amended security plans to assess whether the plans are made or amended in accordance with the Act, and to endorse that the plan or amended plan satisfies the requirements of the Act. You should contact an assessor directly to discuss your plan.

What if there is a security incident relating to a source for which I am responsible?

In the case of a security breach involving detectable theft, unexplained loss, unauthorised damage, unauthorised access, or unauthorised transfer, the responsible person dealing with a radioactive source must notify NSW Police immediately and then EPA Environment Line on 131 555.

In addition, a written report of the incident must be submitted to the EPA within seven days of the date of the notification in accordance with the Radiation Control Regulation.

What is an identity check or security background check and what do I need
to do?

The Code requires that those who deal with security-enhanced sources have an identification check or a security background check. The national scheme for these checks is being developed.

What is a source transport security plan?

A person shipping a security-enhanced source must have a source transport security plan that demonstrates how the responsible person will meet the requirements of the Code. Schedule A of the Code contains the information that must be included in this plan.

A plan must be submitted to the EPA at least seven days before shipment, or if it is a regular shipment of Category 2 and 3 sources, before the first shipment.

Who will endorse my source transport security plan?

The EPA has accredited independent radiation security assessors to review source transport security plans or amended security plans to assess whether the plans are made or amended in accordance with the Act, and to endorse that the plan or amended plan satisfies the requirements of the Act. You should contact an assessor directly to discuss your plan.

Who will advise me if the threat level changes?

The Code requires security plans to be scalable, based on the current national Threat Level. The EPA maintains a record of contacts at organisations that are responsible for security-enhanced sources. The police or the EPA will advise of any sudden change in the threat level for a radiological hazard.

 

Page last updated: 02 July 2014