A prestigious university has been fined tens of thousands of dollars for dumping a radioactive medical scanner at a scrap metal yard.
The University of Sydney has been fined $61,000 for disposing of a medical scanner containing radioactive material in a scrap metal yard in Chipping Norton in southwest Sydney.
The university was charged over disposing of radioactive waste without the consent of the NSW Environmental Protection Agency and having the waste transported by an unlicensed person.
The company contracted to transport the PET scanner from the University’s Camperdown campus to a scrap metal yard in Chipping Norton was not licensed to handle the radioactive material hidden inside.
The radioactive caesium-137 was only detected after the scanner broke apart and was transported to another facility in Hexham, near Newcastle where it set off the radioactive alarm.
“No actual harm was caused to the environment or any person as a result of the offences and the source remained in its protective casing at all times,” the University wrote in a statement on its website on April 20.
“There is no suggestion the offences were intentional or caused by negligence or recklessness.”
The NSW Land and Environment Court issued the significant fine after the prestigious university pleaded guilty to the two offences which occurred in January 2019.
Justice Pain honed in on the potential risk to public health and the environment when handing down her sentence on April 14.
The size of the $61,000 fine was considered to be a substantial deterrent to ensure the university thinks twice before making the dangerous mistake again.
On top of the fine, the university is responsible for paying the legal fees of the EPA and the cost undertaken by the EPA to properly dispose of the radioactive waste.
They were also ordered to publicise the details of their offences in the Sydney Morning Herald, a radiation society newsletter, their website and on Facebook.