Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Sydney University radiation case shows the need for stronger environmental laws, with wider scope

The fallout of the University’s radiation case,  To see real environmental progress, it is not enough to rely on corporate responsibility; we need a body of enforceable restrictions on corporate and institutional consumption. Honi Soit   by Bella Gerardi, May 2, 2022,  

Last week, the University of Sydney was fined $61,000 for failing to properly dispose of a radioactive source belonging to a decommissioned medical imaging machine. For an institution that claims to have a strong commitment to the environment, conviction of a criminal environmental offence appears at odds with its sustainability strategy.

The source, which contained a sealed radioactive isotope, was found when a truck delivering scrap metals to a recycling yard set off alarms during a routine radiation check. 

Identified as belonging to a PET scanner owned by the University, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) charged the University with four individual breaches of the Radiation Control Act. The case didn’t go to court as the University pled guilty, and in exchange the EPA dropped two of the four charges. 

………. Last week, the University of Sydney was fined $61,000 for failing to properly dispose of a radioactive source belonging to a decommissioned medical imaging machine. For an institution that claims to have a strong commitment to the environment, conviction of a criminal environmental offence appears at odds with its sustainability strategy.

The source, which contained a sealed radioactive isotope, was found when a truck delivering scrap metals to a recycling yard set off alarms during a routine radiation check. 

Identified as belonging to a PET scanner owned by the University, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) charged the University with four individual breaches of the Radiation Control Act. The case didn’t go to court as the University pled guilty, and in exchange the EPA dropped two of the four charges. 

……………   It is disappointing, but not surprising, that it took a criminal conviction to reach the safeguards imposed today. Unfortunately, the University’s prior lack of clear procedure is indicative of the broader attitude institutions and corporations hold toward environmental crimes. Environmental crimes are often entangled with accidents, negligence, or oversight, and are often not viewed as holding the same gravity as other offences.

Corporations and institutions are responsible for the majority of environmental harm, yet complex corporate hierarchies make it uncommon for individuals to face repercussions for offences, which in turn promotes a lax attitude toward environmental damage.

Is anything changing?

The NSW Government passed the Environment Legislation Amendment Act 2022 (NSW) last month, which broadened the personal liability that executives face if their corporation breaches environmental legislation. If directors financially benefit from a breach of environmental law, they can be criminally prosecuted for that offence, regardless of whether they were personally aware of or involved in the breach.

In bringing a greater threat of personal liability, the new laws will hopefully incentivise directors to take greater care in ensuring company policies uphold environmental laws.

Despite all this, the scope of environmental law as it stands is limited, as most environmental offences relate to waste management or water and air pollution. ………. https://honisoit.com/2022/05/the-fallout-of-the-universitys-radiation-case/

May 30, 2022 - Posted by | legal, New South Wales

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