Registration of premises that keep radioactive substances: Information for occupiers
This page explains the processes and procedures for the registering of premises on which radioactive substances are kept or used.
Section 8 of the Radiation Control Act 1990 requires the registration of premises where a radioactive substance not contained in a sealed source device is kept or used.
It is the responsibility of the occupier to ensure that the premises are registered.
In the Radiation Control Act, 'occupier', in relation to premises, means:
- a person in occupation or control of the premises, or
- if the premises have different parts occupied or controlled by different persons, the person in occupation or control of the part concerned.
The occupier may or may not be the owner of the premises.
Section 8 of the Act refers to 'premises on which a radioactive substance that is not contained in a sealed source device is kept or used'. A radioactive substance includes a sealed radioactive source that is not contained in a sealed source device.
A 'radioactive source', means either a radioactive substance or a sealed radioactive source that is not contained in a sealed source device. Some conditions only relate to a sealed radioactive source. Where this is meant, the term 'sealed radioactive source' is used.
The term 'unsealed radioactive source' is no longer used in the Act. The definition of 'sealed radioactive source' was changed and a new term 'sealed source device' added to the Definitons. The definitions of a 'radioactive substance', 'sealed radioactive source' and 'sealed source device' are at the end of this page. A table of prescribed activities of radioactive substances can be found under Schedule 1 of the Regulation.
Exemptions from premises registration
The following radioactive substances are exempt from the application of premises registration:
- Americium 241 in industrial smoke detectors that do not contain any other radioactive substance
- Radioactive substances in luminous dials on any devices, including on clocks and watches
- Gaseous tritium in luminous devices, including self luminous 'EXIT' signs
- Radioactive substances used in nuclear medicine for checking gamma cameras and dose calibrators and having a level of activity of less that 40 megabecquerels
- Radioactive substances used as laboratory reference sources and having a level of activity of less that 40 megabecquerels
- Radioactive substances used for demonstration, teaching or training having a level of activity of less that 40 megabecquerels
- Uranium metal of natural isotopic composition, or depleted in uranium 235, which is used as radiation shielding in transport packages for radioactive substances or is used in any other manner
These exempt radioactive substances are listed in Schedule 3B of the Radiation Control Regulation 2003.
Why register premises?
The reason for registration and conditions of registration is to ensure that the occupier:
- complies with standards to help minimise the exposure of persons and the environment to harmful ionising radiation from a radioactive source that is kept or used on the premises
- keeps a record of the radioactive sources that are kept or used on the premises and the purpose for which they are used
- keeps a record of exposure of occupationally exposed persons and others to radiation from radioactive sources that are kept or used on the premises
- does not dispose of a radioactive source except as permitted and keeps a record of the disposal of radioactive sources.
Application for registration
The occupier must submit an application to the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) using the approved form Application for registration of a premises on which a radioactive substance (not contained in a sealed source device) is kept or used (regpremisesappln.pdf, 149KB) accompanied by the fee prescribed.
The occupier must complete all sections of the application form that apply to the premises.
The premises must be registered in the name of the legal occupier and the occupier's name and address provided.
Premises may be registered in the name of an individual or a corporation, including a statutory corporation (for example, an area health service or a university).
The occupier must provide their registered office address (if a corporation) or street address (if an individual) and an address for correspondence, if it is different from the occupier's street address.
Licensing and use of radioactive sources
The occupier's EPA licence number must be provided on registration applications where a licence number is requested, not the licence number of a company director or employee.
For a corporation to register its premises it must have a 'licence to sell/possess' radioactive substances in accordance with section 6 of the Act.
If the occupier is an individual (for example, a sole trader) and the premises is to be registered in the individual's name, the occupier must have a 'licence to use' radioactive substances under section 6 of the Act.
An individual does not need a 'licence to sell/possess' radioactive substances to apply for registration because an individual's 'licence to use' includes the right to 'possess for use'. However, if an individual decides to sell a radioactive source, the individual must obtain a 'licence to sell/possess'.
A person who intends to sell or give away a radioactive source (individual or corporate) must ascertain that the buyer has an appropriate licence under the Act.
Any person who uses a radioactive source on the premises must have a licence to use radioactive substances under the Act, unless they are an exempt person under clause 8 of the Regulation and a person who holds an appropriate licence has approved the exemption.
Location and contact details
The occupier must provide the street address and the specific location of the premises, if it is located on a larger site, on the application form.
If the occupier is a corporation, the occupier must nominate an individual as the contact person for EPA inquiries.
The occupier may also wish to nominate an 'on-site' contact at the premises, if the occupier has more than one premises.
Classification of premises
1. Premises where unsealed radioactive substances are kept or used
Where a radioactive substance that is not a sealed radioactive source is kept or used on the premises, the occupier must determine the classification of premises. Premises are classified according to the Australian Standard AS 2243.4 – 1998, Safety in Laboratories, Part 4 – Ionizing Radiation, Appendix F – Grading of Radioisotope Laboratories, as low level, medium level or high level based on the specified levels of activity.
The table below is a guide to classification of premises, according to the Australian Standard.
|Grade of premises for specified levels of activity |
< 0.2 MBq
0.2 MBq to 20 MBq
> 20 MBq
< 20 MBq
20 MBq to 2 GBq
> 2 GBq
< 2 GBq
2 GBq to 0.2 TBq
> 0.2 TBq
< 0.2 TBq
0.2 TBq to 20 TBq
> 20 TBq
The Australian Standard contains more information about premises classification, including modifying and occupancy factors that may affect classification. Below is the list of modifying factors, which may be found in Appendix F of the Australian Standard. The EPA has added examples to each of the factors to assist in the assessment of premises. The Australian Standard also contains the muliplying factors for each of the modifying factors.
- Simple storage (e.g. waste being held for decay, radionuclide generators)
- Very simple wet operations (e.g. using aliquots of stock solution), patient accommodation, administration of solid radiopharmaceuticals, external counting and clinical procedures
- Normal chemical operations (e.g. analysis of simple chemical preparations, radiopharmaceutical procedures including cell labelling, handling of tissue samples and body fluids, administration of liquid radiopharmaceuticals, administration of iodine in gel-caps)
- Complex wet operations with risks of spills.
- Simple dry operations (e.g. manipulation of powders) work with volatile radioactive compounds (performing iodination procedures).
- Complex dry operations (e.g. where powders are likely to become airborne) administering radioactive gases and aerosols.
2. Premises on which a sealed radioactive source is kept or used
Where a sealed radioactive source that is not contained in a sealed source device is kept or used on the premises, the occupier must provide details of each sealed radioactive source that exceeds the 'threshold activities for sealed radioactive sources' associated with the radionuclides listed in the attached Schedule (the schedule is also on the application for registration).
There is a greater potential for harm to people or the environment from these sealed radioactive sources if there is an accident or they are misused, disposed improperly or lost.
Registration of multiple rooms and laboratories
Registration may apply to a single room or individual laboratory, or two or more rooms or individual laboratories that are contiguous (attached or near one another) and owned or controlled by the same person, depending on how they are classified and the type of radioactive sources that are kept or used on the premises.
In general, the EPA will register up to three low-level classification rooms or laboratories in which a radioactive substance other than a sealed radioactive source is kept or used, or where one or more sealed radioactive sources are kept or used and each sealed radioactive source is below the 'threshold activity' in the attached Schedule.
The EPA will generally register singly, rooms on which a radioactive substance is kept or used that are graded medium or high level, or where a sealed radioactive source that exceeds the 'threshold activity' in the Schedule is kept or used.
Rooms used exclusively for storage will be registered separately.
This approach of registering one or more rooms or laboratories separately will be applied flexibly. The occupiers should contact the EPA's Hazardous Materials, Chemicals and Radiation Section for advice on specific situations because an incorrect or incomplete application may delay registration.
Conditions of registration
When the requirements for registration are met, the EPA will issue a certificate of registration for the premises. The conditions attached to the certificate are mandatory requirements. Conditions may vary depending on the type of premises or purpose for which the premises is used.
The occupier is required to provide details relating to sealed radioactive sources of the kind identified in the Schedule that are received at the premises or disposed of, sold or given away, including the sources identified in the application.
The occupier must perform an annual stocktake of radioactive sources kept or used at the premises. The occupier must notify the EPA if there is any inconsistency following a stocktake in relation to sealed radioactive sources that exceed the 'threshold activity' in the Schedule.
Duration of registration
The duration of registration is two years. The certificate of registration shows the date when the registration expires and is due for renewal.
Renewing a registration
The EPA will send a renewal notification about six weeks before the registration expiry. The renewal application form must be returned with the prescribed fee if the occupier intends to continue to use the premises to keep or use radioactive sources. The fee for renewing a registration is $105.
The occupier must apply to register any new premises. Each of the premises where radioactive sources are kept or used must be registered before radioactive sources can be kept or used there.
Consulting radiation experts are not yet accredited to assess premises, as there are no mandatory registration requirements against which to assess premises at this time.
Mandatory registration requirements for premises will be developed in future and a compliance certification program will be initiated.
Transferring a registration
If the occupier of the premises is changing, the EPA may, on application by the (current) occupier on the approved form Application for registration for premises on which a radioactive substance not contained in a sealed source device is kept or used (regpremisestransfer.pdf, 112KB) and on payment of the prescribed fee, transfer a registration to the new occupier, if certain conditions are met.
The current occupier should establish that the new occupier is appropriately licensed before making an application. A registration may only be transferred to a person who is licensed under section 6 of the Act to use radioactive substances or to sell/possess radioactive substances, as appropriate.
On receipt of the transfer application, the EPA will confirm the transfer details with the (new) occupier. If the transfer application is approved, the EPA will issue a registration certificate to the new occupier.
If the conditions for transferring a registration are not met and the (new) occupier intends to continue to keep or use a radioactive source on the premises, the (new) occupier must apply to register the premises.
Surrender of registration
If the occupier of a premises ceases to use the premises to keep or use radioactive sources, or if the occupier of the premises changes and the registration cannot be transferred, the occupier in whose name the premises is registered may surrender the registration by notifying the EPA and the registration will be cancelled.
The occupier of a premises may dispose of a radioactive source if the EPA has given consent. If consent to dispose is given, disposal is subject to the conditions of registration and the details of any consent. Records of disposal must be kept in accordance with clause 24 of the Regulation.
The definitions of a radioactive substance, sealed radioactive source and sealed source device are:
- radioactive substance means any natural or artificial substance whether in solid or liquid form or in the form of a gas or vapour (including any article or compound whether it has or has not been subjected to any artificial treatment or process) which emits ionising radiation spontaneously with a specific activity greater than the prescribed amount and which consists of or contains more than the prescribed activity of any radioactive element whether natural or artificial.
- sealed radioactive source means a radioactive substance sealed in a capsule, or closely bound in a solid form, so as:
- to prevent the possibility of escape or dispersion of the radioactive substance, and
- to allow the emission of ionising radiation.
- sealed source device means equipment or a gauge, instrument or device that contains a sealed radioactive source, and permits the controlled emission of radiation, but does not include a container used solely for the storage or transport of a sealed radioactive source.
For further information, contact the EPA's Hazardous Materials, Chemicals and Radiation Section on (02) 9995 5000 or 131 555.
Threshold activities for sealed radioactive sources
|Radionuclide ||Activity (GBq) ||Element |
Page last updated: 03 April 2013