ARPANSA Project to Expand Radioactive Waste Store in Yallambie, VIC in 2018

Sun Shine made this Freedom of Information request to Office of the Australian Information Commissioner

The request was partially successful.

From: Sun Shine

Delivered

Dear Office of the Australian Information Commissioner,

I sought access under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act) to information regarding the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency's (ARPANSA) project to expand its Radioactive Waste Store. By law, ARPANSA should have responded by 20 July 2018. My request to ARPANSA was for access to documents that describe the project.

This request involved no information of a personal nature or information involving third-parties. On 19 July, after I prompted, ARPANSA's FoI Administrator sent the following:

"Thank you for your email. I have been provided with a substantial number of documents that may respond to your request, however, due to some unexpected leave taken by ARPANSA's Facility Manager, I only received all the documents this week. While I will endeavour to make a decision on the documents as soon as possible, I think that next week is more likely than this week."

However I received nothing from ARPANSA the following week. As a result, I had to conclude that the CEO of ARPANSA has personally made a decision refusing to give access to the documents [refer to s 15AC]. ARPANSA is a small agency and the FOI administrator works directly for the CEO; they've undoubtedly discussed this request.

I therefore respectfully request an IC review of this "deemed" decision to refuse me access.

Yours faithfully,
Anonymous

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From: FOIDR
Office of the Australian Information Commissioner


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Our reference: MR18/00544
Anonymous
Sent by email: [FOI #4720 email]
Dear Sir/Madam
Your IC review application about an FOI decision by the Australian
Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency
Thank you for your correspondence seeking to lodge an IC review
application with the [1]Office of the Australian Information Commissioner
(the OAIC) about the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety
Agency (ARPNSA).
Please note:

* The OAIC has initiated preliminary inquiries with ARPNSA, we will
contact you once the ARPNSA responds to advise the next steps.
* If your circumstances change, or your request has been resolved
directly with ARPNSA, please advise us by email as soon as
practicable.
* Information about the way we handle your personal information is
available in our [2]privacy policy.

Should you wish to follow up on this matter, please contact the OAIC
enquiries line on 1300 363 992 or email [3][email address] and quote
the reference number at the top of this email.
Yours sincerely
Carl English | Assistant Review and Investigation Officer | Freedom of
Information Dispute Resolution
Office of the Australian Information Commissioner
GPO Box 5218 SYDNEY NSW 2001| [4]www.oaic.gov.au
Phone:  +61 2 9284 9745 | E-mail: [email address]
 
Protecting information rights – advancing information policy
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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From: FOIDR
Office of the Australian Information Commissioner

Our reference: MR18/00544

Agency reference: 2017/001196

Anonymous

Sent by email: [FOI #4720 email]

Dear Anonymous

I write to you regarding your application for IC review of a decision the
Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPNSA) was
deemed to have made on 20 July 2018.

On 17 August 2018, the ARPSNA notified the Office of the Australian
Information Commissioner it had made a revised decision to give you
partial  access to the documents you requested.

Can you please notify us by 31 August 2018, if you now wish to:

o Withdraw the IC review application, or
o Proceed with the IC Review application, and make a submission about
the grounds on which you wish to proceed.

If you have any questions regarding this email please contact me on 02
9284 9745 or via email [1][email address]. Please quote OAIC reference
number MR18/00544 in all correspondence.

Yours sincerely

Carl English | Assistant Review and Investigation Officer | Freedom of
Information Dispute Resolution

Office of the Australian Information Commissioner

GPO Box 5218 SYDNEY NSW 2001| [2]www.oaic.gov.au

Phone:  +61 2 9284 9745 | E-mail: [email address]

 

 

 

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From: Sun Shine

Delivered

Dear FOIDR,

Thank you. Your assistance resulted in the release of some of the requested documents.

However not all relevant documents were released and, for those that were, information was inappropriately redacted. Reasons provided by ARPANSA for withholding some information were s22 (irrelevant), s47E (operations), s47F (privacy) and s47G (business).

The requested information is clearly in the public interest. The documents describe a project that involves the expenditure of significant sums of taxpayer money. The documents describe work that is being done to ARPANSA's building in Yallambie, VIC so that it can serve as a radioactive waste store for about 210 drums of transferred waste. In addition, the CEO of ARPANSA is both the licence holder and regulator of this licence; as such, there is a potential conflict of interest.

I disagree with ARPANSA's conclusion that no significant weight should be given to the public interest in promoting the objects of the FoI Act. I disagree with ARPANSA's statement that no significant weight should be given to the public interest in informing debate on a matter of public importance. Contrary to what ARPANSA claimed, it is clear that the release of the requested documents promote the effective oversight of public expenditure.

I therefore respectfully request that you proceed with the IC review application, with a focus on the following:

1. Information was withheld based on s22 (irrelevant). However such information was often obviously relevant because it was included in documents that addressed only the requested topic. For example, in the item 2.7 of Executive Group paper dated 9 March 2018, information was deleted because it was irrelevant despite the fact the the paper dealt only with the waste store. Another example is the presentation made to agency staff entitled "Expansion of ARPANSA's Waste Holdings - an update". It's nonsensical to claim that entire slides are irrelevant to the presentation topic. I believe one redacted slide lists Ra-226 as the major radionuclide in the waste, which is definitely relevant. In another redacted slide, I believe staff were instructed not to communicate about the project to anyone outside the agency. Request a review of such s22 deletions with the government's pro-disclosure policy in mind.

2. Some documents were simply not provided. For example, item 2.5 in an Executive Group paper dated 18 January 2018 provided relevant project background information and discussed options. This should have been released. In addition, the proposed work described by the Yallambie project has implications for safety and clearly constitutes a modification for which the ARPANS Act and regulations apply. The CEO of ARPANSA is licence holder and the regulator of this licence. This is of public interest given the CEO's obligation under the ARPANS Act to "take all reasonable steps to avoid any conflict of interest between the CEO’s regulatory functions and the CEO’s other functions". Request release of item 2.5 and of all documents that describe the completed safety reviews or assessments, and applications and approvals for the modifications under the Yallambie source licence S0002.

Yours sincerely,
Anonymous

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From: FOIDR
Office of the Australian Information Commissioner

Dear Anonymous

Thank you for your email.

Your matter will now proceed to assessment. Once your matter has been assessed we will write to you to advise the next steps.
Kind regards

Carl English | Assistant Review and Investigation Officer | Freedom of Information Dispute Resolution
Office of the Australian Information Commissioner
GPO Box 5218 SYDNEY NSW 2001| www.oaic.gov.au
Phone: +61 2 9284 9745 | E-mail: [email address]

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From: FOIDR
Office of the Australian Information Commissioner


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Our reference: MR18/00544

Agency reference: 2017/001196

Anonymous

By email: [FOI #4720 email]

Your application for IC review of an FOI decision

Dear Anonymous,  

Please find attached correspondence relating to your IC review
application.

Kind regards

 

[1]cid:image001.jpg@01D446AF.83C3DEE0   Megan McKenna |  Assistant Review Officer

Freedom of Information

Office of the Australian Information Commissioner

GPO Box 5218 Sydney NSW 2001  |  [2]oaic.gov.au

+61 2 8231 4292  |  [3][email address]
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