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Wednesday, 3 May 1989
Page: 1746

(Question No. 925)

Senator Vallentine asked the Minister representing the Minister for Land Transport and Shipping Support, upon notice, on 5 April 1989:

(1) What details are available about the method by which containers holding bulka-bags of monazite are stowed on board vessels used in the overseas transport of monazite.

(2) What levels of gamma radiation are harbour personnel and ships' crews exposed to during loading and shipping.

(3) How are gamma radiation levels (referred to in (2) above), measured.

(4) Are records kept of radiation exposure levels for harbour personnel and ships' crews; if so, where; if not, why not.

(5) Are harbour personnel and ships' crews subject to regular medical examinations in regard to exposure to gamma radiation from monazite and xenotime cargoes; if not, why not.

(6) Are records kept to radon gas and thoron gas levels in ships' holds which are loaded with mineral sands concentrates.

(7) What regulations exist in connection with radiation exposure of harbour personnel and ships' crews.

Senator Gareth Evans —The answer to the honourable senator's question is as follows:

(1) The majority of containers holding Bulka-bags of Monazite are stowed on cellular container ships using shore portainer cranes. A small number are stowed on roll on-roll off ships using fork lift trucks.

Containers may be stowed on or under deck segregated from accommodation, regularly occupied working spaces and certain other classes of dangerous goods.

(2) Radiation dose rates up to 22 micro Gray per hour have been measured at one metre from a container.

(3) Fremantle Terminals Ltd, and the Fremantle Port Authority are involved in loading consignments of containerised Monazite. Measurements of the cargo are taken by Radiation Safety Officers of these organisations using radiation survey meters.

(4) No. Waterside workers engaged in loading Monazite consignments have been monitored in the past. The methods employed have included the use of film badges, radiation survey meters and integrating electronic dose meters. In all cases the radiation doses received by individuals were within the limits of the Federal Code of Practice for the Safe Transport of Radioactive Substances 1982.

(5) No. I am advised that harbour personnel and ships' crews would not receive sufficient radiation from Monazite and Xenotime cargoes for them to be subject to the provisions of State legislation requiring regular medical examinations.

(6) No. The Regulations of the International Atomic Energy Agency do not require radon and thoron gas levels to be monitored and recorded.

(7) With regard to harbour personnel in Western Australia the appropriate regulations in connection with radiation exposure are those made under the WA Radiation Safety Act. This is a matter which comes under State jurisdiction. With regard to ships' crews the appropriate regulations are the International Atomic Energy Agency's Regulations for the Safe Transport of Radioactive materials. These regulations are implemented through the International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code and Marine Orders Part 41 (Cargo and Cargo Handling-Dangerous Goods).