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Tuesday, 19 February 1980
Page: 80

Mr Hayden asked the Minister for National Development, upon notice, on 30 May 1 979:

(   1 ) Has his attention been drawn to comments made by Mr Henri Meyer of the Association of Architects, Engineers, Surveyors and Draughtsmen on Nationwide, 26 April 1979, that, in relation to radiation monitoring equipment in use at the Australian Atomic Energy Commission research establishment, some of this equipment is not up to standard, partly due to not having sufficient maintenance staff available and partly due to not having finance.

(2)   If so, has this claim been investigated.

(3)   Is any of the radiation monitoring equipment in use at the research establishment not up to standard.

(4)   Is there sufficient maintenance staff, and sufficient finance for radiation monitoring activities at the research establishment.

(5)   Has his attention also been drawn to Mr Meyer's claim that some of the equipment has reached the stage of outdating and the reported comment on behalf of the Commission that there have been a few problems with obsolete and worn out equipment.

(6)   If so, have these claims been investigated.

(7)   Is any of the safety or monitoring equipment at the research establishment outdated or worn out; if so, what action will be taken to replace or repair this equipment.

Mr Newman - The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1)   Yes.

(2)   Yes.

(3)   Much of the radiation monitoring and safety equipment in use at the AAEC Research Establishment was purchased in the period 1958-62. While it permits adequate monitoring when properly used, newer equipment is needed to facilitate routine monitoring, particularly in the area of isotope production.

(4)   Current recruitment action is based on the need to ensure sufficient maintenance staff for all essential services including radiation monitoring services.

(5)   Yes.

(6)   Yes.

(7)   Yes. The Commission has a continuing program of updating and replacement of older safety and monitoring equipment. Orders to the value of $37,000 were placed for safety and radiation monitoring equipment in 1978-79. Approximately $64,000 has been allocated for similar equipment in 1979-80.

The Commission has a continuing obligation to maintain security and safety arrangements at its Research Establishment at levels comparable to the best overseas practice. Security and safety arrangements are given the highest priority by the Commission which has assured me that safety standards at the Research Establishment are not being compromised and that it will not proceed with any operations until safety standards are met and safety checks on staff are carried out. I shall continue to insist that safety at the Research Establishment receives the highest priority at all times.

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