Territory Stories

Assessment of the Jabiluka Project : report of the Supervising Scientist to the World Heritage Committee



Assessment of the Jabiluka Project : report of the Supervising Scientist to the World Heritage Committee


Johnston, A.; Prendergast, J. B.; Bridgewater, Peter


E-Publications; E-Books; PublicationNT; Supervising Scientist Report; 138




Alligator Rivers Region

Table of contents

Main report--Appendix 2 of the Main Report. Submission to the Mission of the World Heritage Committee by some Australian Scientists ... --Attachment A. Johnston A. and Needham S. 1999. Protection of the environment near the Ranger uranium mine--Attachment B. Bureau of Meteorology 1999. Hydrometeorological analysis relevant to Jabiluka--Attachment C. Jones, R.N., Hennessy, K.J. and Abbs, D.J. 1999. Climate change analysis relevant to Jabiluka--Attachment D. Chiew, F and Wang, Q.J. 1999. Hydrological anaysis relevant to surface water storage at Jabiluka--Attachment E. Kalf, F. and Dudgeon, C. 1999. Analysis of long term groundwater dispersal of contaminants from proposed Jabiluka mine tailings repositories--Appendix 2 of Attachment E. Simulation of leaching on non-reactive and radionuclide contaminants from proposed Jabiluka silo banks.




Uranium mill tailings - Environmental aspects - Northern Territory - Alligator Rivers Region; Environmental impact analysis - Northern Territory - Jabiluka; Uranium mines and mining - Environmental aspects - Northern Territory - Jabiluka; Jabiluka - Environmental aspects

Publisher name

Environment Australia

Place of publication

Canberra (A.C.T.)


Supervising Scientist Report; 138


1 volume (various pagings) : illustrations, maps

File type






Copyright owner

Environment Australia



Parent handle


Citation address


Related items

https://hdl.handle.net/10070/462403; https://hdl.handle.net/10070/462400; https://hdl.handle.net/10070/462405; https://hdl.handle.net/10070/462406; https://hdl.handle.net/10070/462408; https://hdl.handle.net/10070/462409; https://hdl.handle.net/10070/462411

Page content

11 possible but with a very low probability. It is concluded that radium and uranium will remain at background levels in the Magela floodplain. The groundwater modelling indicates that the upward component of groundwater flow is weak in both the groundwater movement to the east towards Swift Creek and to the west towards the Magela floodplain. The flow was found to be predominantly horizontal, implying that most of the solutes from the tailings repository will remain in the deep aquifer and move under the floodplain towards the sea and only a small fraction of the groundwater in the deeper aquifer would be accessible to surface waters. All of the calculated groundwater concentrations discussed above refer to concentrations in the deep aquifer. Surface aquifer concentrations arising from the tailings repositories will be negligible. The overall conclusion is that the wetlands of Kakadu will not be harmed as a result of the dispersal of tailings constituents in groundwater. Risk assessment on the long-term storage of tailings A risk assessment of the probable impact on people and the wetlands of Kakadu National Park arising from the long-term storage of tailings in the mine void and the silos has not been carried out to the extent conducted for storage of uranium on the surface. To carry out such an assessment would require the extension of the analysis of groundwater dispersion to the quantitative prediction, using Monte Carlo analysis methods of the concentrations of solutes in the waters of the Magela floodplain and the probability with which these concentrations would occur. The range and quality of existing hydrogeological data do not enable such a detailed analysis to be carried out. However, the Monte Carlo analyses of solute concentrations in the deep aquifer and the information on the vertical component of groundwater flow demonstrate that the concentrations of the tailings derived solutes in surface waters of the Magela floodplain will remain at their natural values and will not be affected by dispersion of solutes from the tailings repositories. General environmental protection issues Protection of the environment in the Alligator Rivers Region The environmental protection regime that the Australian Government implemented for the mining of uranium at Ranger has been completely consistent with the principles of Sustainable Development and it has been demonstrated, through an extensive chemical, biological and radiological monitoring program, that no impact of significance under those principles has occurred, on either people or ecosystems of Kakadu National Park, throughout the operation of the Ranger mine. The same regulatory regime, but strengthened in some particular cases, would apply to the mining of uranium at Jabiluka. The Ranger and the Jabiluka milling alternatives The Mission report was critical of ERA for proposing to proceed with the Jabiluka Mill Alternative (JMA) option despite not being the preferred environmental option. This review, however, and the original assessment of the JMA proposal by Environment Australia have shown that, while the Ranger Mill Alternative (RMA) option is preferred, the risk to the environment arising from the JMA option is minimal and, in particular, that the wetlands of Kakadu National Park will not be threatened if the project proceeds.