A prestigious university has been fined tens of thousands of dollars for dumping a radioactive medical scanner in a junkyard.
The University of Sydney has been fined $61,000 for dumping a medical scanner containing radioactive material in a scrapyard in Chipping Norton, south-west Sydney.
The university has been accused of disposing of radioactive waste without the consent of the NSW Environmental Protection Agency and of having the waste transported by an unauthorized person.
The company responsible for transporting the PET scanner from the University’s Camperdown campus to a scrap yard in Chipping Norton was not licensed to handle the radioactive material hidden inside.
The radioactive cesium-137 was only detected after the scanner broke and was transported to another facility in Hexham, near Newcastle, where it triggered the radioactive alarm.
“No actual harm was done to the environment or to anyone as a result of the breaches and the source remained in its protective case at all times,” the University wrote in a statement posted on its website on Tuesday. April 20.
“There is no suggestion that the breaches were intentional or caused by negligence or recklessness.”
The NSW Land and Environment Court imposed a significant fine after the prestigious university pleaded guilty to the two offenses committed in January 2019.
Judge Pain emphasized the potential risk to public health and the environment when handing down her sentence on April 14.
The $61,000 fine amount was seen as a strong deterrent to ensure the university thinks twice before making the dangerous mistake again.
In addition to the fine, the university is responsible for paying EPA legal fees and costs incurred by the EPA to properly dispose of radioactive waste.
They were also ordered to publish details of their offenses in the Sydney Morning Herald, a radiation society newsletter, their website and on Facebook.