26 September 2023

ANSTO nuclear spill bad medicine

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The Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) has launched an inquiry into a spill of nuclear medicine in its Lucas Heights, NSW, laboratories last week.

A spokesperson for ANSTO said about 7.30am on 7 June, a Quality Control Analyst working in the medicine production area was undertaking a routine movement of a medicine product when a spill occurred involving around 1ml of liquid.

“The staff member was wearing full protective clothing,” the spokesperson said.

“A health physicist checked the analyst and confirmed no skin contamination.”

The spokesperson said an Occupational Physician then cleared the analyst to go home, and the staff member is now back at work.

“ANSTO has informed both Comcare and the independent nuclear regulator, ARPANSA [Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency], of the incident, and will, of course, cooperate with any subsequent inquiries.”

The spokesperson said ANSTO ceased production immediately following the incident and began an investigation to establish the facts of what happened and how a recurrence could be prevented.

“ANSTO is working to minimise impacts on nuclear medicine supply,”

The spokesperson said that in the past two years, there had been two radiological spills in the nuclear medicine quality-control area that had been reported to Comcare.

The latest incident was very different from the incident in August last year, which was widely reported in the media.

“ANSTO continues to provide support for the employee involved in last year’s incident,” the spokesperson said.

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