May 31, 2011 | Mark Paradies

Were Accidents Under-Reported at Australian Lucas Heights Reactor?

A controversy about under-reporting incidents at the High Flux Australian Reactor (HIFAR – used to make medical radioisotopes) has hit the news. It seems from press reports (see this article in February and this article in May) that an employee was suspended after going public with concerns about the under-reporting of repeat incidents.

The whistleblower, David Reid, is quoted as saying:

If you do not take safety seriously and do a root cause analysis of each accident, the accidents, they won’t learn from them, and they’ll keep repeating the same accidents, which have happened over and over again. You have the same few people having the same accidents and the same people under-reporting or not reporting them.

ANSTO, the government agency that runs the reactor, disagrees. It believes that incident reports are being made and that its suspension of the employee was justified.

ARPANSA, the Australian government nuclear safety agency, is due to release an additional report about the alleged under-reporting of incidents later this year.

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