THIS week a strange thing happened. The uranium industry and radiation health experts were as one.
Actually they generally are, except on the absurd “Linear No Threshold” position of the “Institute for Global Health”
The detente quickly evaporated into a dispute about the health risks posed by exposure to low-level radiation. But the combatants agreed the Australian National Radiation Dose Register should be expanded beyond the uranium mining and milling industry to include all people exposed to so-called ionising radiation at work.
“It’s not often I find myself in agreement with the Australian Uranium Association,” says public health physician and radiation specialist Tilman Ruff, from the Nossal Institute for Global Health at the University of Melbourne.
“But it makes good public health sense,” he says of the AUA’s call to expand the register.
The ANRDR is a centralised database maintained by the national regulator, the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency. It was set up in 2010 to collect, store, manage and share records of radiation doses received by workers exposed to harmful radiation.
As the AUA notes, responsibility for such matters resides with the states and territories, so enabling legislation was passed to allow operators such as Olympic Dam and Beverley mine in South Australia to register employee data. The Northern Territory government has introduced legislation to enable, for instance, Ranger mine to include data. Other jurisdictions are yet to follow.
“It’s time now for the benefit of national dose data tracking to be extended beyond just uranium works,” says AUA chief executive Michael Angwin.