Managing radiation in NSW


The EPA administers the Radiation Control Act 1990  (the Act) and Radiation Control Regulation 2013 (the Regulation).

The EPA has certain regulatory powers under the Act and Regulation which include regulating the use, sale, giving away, disposal, storage, possession, transport, installation, maintenance or repair, remediation or clean-up of regulated material (radioactive substances, ionising radiation apparatus, non-ionising radiation apparatus of a kind prescribed by the Regulations and sealed source devices) in NSW.

The EPA areas of responsibility include

  • licensing: radiation user licences
  • licensing: radiation management licences
  • accreditation: Consulting Radiation Experts
  • accreditation: Radiation Security Assessors
  • security of certain sealed radioactive sources
  • radiation safety and public health.

Objects of the Act

The objects of the Act are

  • to secure the protection of persons and the environment from exposure to ionising and harmful non-ionising radiation to the maximum extent that is reasonably practicable, taking into account social and economic factors and recognising the need for the use of radiation for beneficial purposes
  • to protect security-enhanced sources from misuse that may result in harm to people or the environment
  • to promote the radiation protection principles.

A person is to take the radiation protection principles into consideration when exercising functions under this Act or under a licence. The radiation protection principles are as follows:

justification of a practice by assessing that the benefits of the practice involving exposure to ionising radiation outweigh any detriment.

optimisation of protection by ensuring that each of the following is kept as low as reasonably achievable taking into account economic and social factors

  • the magnitude of individual doses of ionising radiation
  • the number of people exposed to ionising radiation
  • the likelihood of exposure to ionising radiation.

dose and risk limitation by setting dose limits or imposing other measures so that the health risks to any person exposed to ionising radiation is kept below levels that are generally considered to be unacceptable.

Review of the Act

In 2021, the EPA conducted a review of the Act to ensure it continues to provide best practice protection in radiation use.

The review findings and recommendations are summarised in the review report (PDF 562KB), which was tabled in Parliament in December 2021. 

The review found that, overall, the current policy objectives of the Act remain valid and should be retained and that the terms of the Act are largely appropriate for securing the objectives. 

The review also found that securing the objectives of the Act would be improved by adopting a number of proposed changes. Key recommendations include

  • adopting ecologically sustainable development principles in the Objects of the Act
  • measures to improve oversight of transport and disposal of regulated material
  • fine-tuning security plan requirements relating to the security of radioactive sources
  • broadening orders available to the courts, and increased penalties for offences

EPA activities under the Act

The EPA is responsible for administering the Radiation Control Act 1990 and the Radiation Control Regulation 2013. It also provides administrative support to the Radiation Advisory Council.

The EPA's activities include:


  • review user and management licences
  • provide advice to the public on radiation matters
  • maintain databases of licensees
  • maintain a public register of licences.

Accreditation of Consulting Radiation Experts and Radiation Security Assessors

Enforcement and compliance

  • undertake enforcement action where appropriate
  • conduct investigations and audits.

Radiation accidents

  • maintain a 24-hour emergency response service
  • investigate radiation incidents and complaints.

Policy development

  • provide policy advice to the Government, Minister and the EPA
  • develop policies, guidelines and amendments to the Act and Regulations
  • develop conditions of licences and accreditation
  • liaise with universities and professional associations to develop appropriate training courses
  • provide community education and advice for industry
  • participate in committees developing national policy and codes of practice.

Radiation Advisory Council functions under the Act

The Radiation Advisory Council is constituted under section 29 of the Act and consists of 17 members appointed by the Minister for the Environment.

The council's functions include advising the Minister on:

  • the administration of the Act and Regulation
  • measures to prevent or minimise the dangers arising from radiation
  • other functions as are conferred or imposed on it by or under the Act.

The council also provides advice to the EPA on licensing and accreditations under the Act. The EPA provides administrative support to the council.

Under provisions in the Act, the Radiation Advisory Council is required to prepare and provide to the Minister an annual report of its work and activities for the 12 months ending on 30 June in that year.

Other radiation responsibilities

For information on other radiation topics, listed below please refer to the relevant agencies as provided.

Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA)

  • Powerlines
  • Smart meters
  • Radio frequency electromagnetic radiation emissions from mobile phone base stations
  • Mobile phones and health
  • Solar ultraviolet radiation exposure
  • Cosmic radiation exposure when flying
  • Lasers (see also EPA information on lasers) and Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) sources used for cosmetic purposes
  • Radon in homes
  • Microwaves
  • Radiation matters pertaining to Commonwealth-regulated sites which are located in NSW, i.e. army, defence, CSIRO and ANSTO.

Australian Safeguards and Non-Proliferation Office (ASNO)

Depleted uranium used for radiation shielding i.e. used in transport packaging.

NSW Department of Planning & Environment

For information on uranium exploration, radioactive ore being prospected, mined or treated  visit the NSW Resources Regulator.

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