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

36 This requirement was pointed out by the Supervising Scientist in his comments on the Draft EIS. ERA responded (Supplement to the Draft EIS, p527) that Current indications of climate change are that the margins of change are less than the order of accuracy of calculations. The adoption of extreme events used for water balance calculation will more than accommodate any fluctuations that may be associated with any greenhouse influences over the 28 years of mine operation. The assessment that greenhouse associated effects are likely to be small over the next 30 years was considered valid (see further discussion below) but the Supervising Scientist was also conscious of the need to take into account non-greenhouse effects such as periodic changes in the mean annual rainfall that occur in the past meteorological record. These had been identified previously by the Supervising Scientist (Carter 1990). The decision of the Minister for the Environment on the Jabiluka Mill Alternative required the proponent, ERA, to prepare an amended proposal to the satisfaction of the Supervising Scientist under which all tailings would be stored underground. The issue of climate change over the next 30 years is an issue that would have been addressed when assessing the detailed design proposed by ERA. Given the concerns expressed by the World Heritage Committee, the assessment of climate change effects has been brought forward and has been carried out by the Supervising Scientist as part of this review rather than being commissioned by ERA as part of its detailed design study. 4.4.1 Review of existing information on climate change The CSIRO Division of Atmospheric Research carried out a three year study (19941997) on Climate change under enhanced greenhouse conditions in northern Australia under a consultancy with the governments of the Northern Territory, Western Australia and Queensland. The final report on the project (CSIRO 1998) was published in January 1998. The results obtained in this project were inconclusive on the issue of expected changes over the next 30 years in mean rainfall in the region. All models used in the project broadly agreed that there would be a decrease in Dry season rainfall. However, global climate models (GCM) with simplified oceans (Slab models) indicated a likely increase in Wet season rainfall (in the range 212 per cent) by 2030, whereas coupled ocean models show a decrease (08 per cent) by 2030 for Wet season rainfall. Since most of the rainfall occurs in the Wet season, this disparity is important. In Slab models, a simplified ocean component is used, usually consisting of a well-mixed 50 m layer and climate changes are simulated for a changed equilibrium state. That is, the climate is assumed to have settled down following stabilisation of greenhouse gas emissions, a situation that will not occur for the foreseeable future. Slab models are, therefore, not expected to be reliable for transition conditions over the next 30 years. Coupled ocean models, on the other hand, have a full ocean model that is coupled to the atmosphere. They are dynamic models that can directly simulate transient climate conditions and are expected to be more reliable in their predictions for the next 30 years. An important issue in making climate change predictions for specific regions is that the GCMs, both Slab and coupled ocean models, have coarse resolution (grid point spacing typically 300500 km). To obtain more detailed and realistic predictions for expected changes in rainfall at the regional level, it is necessary to nest regional climate models (such as the CSIRO model DARLAM) into the global climate models. At the time of publication of the report on climate change in northern Australia (CSIRO 1998), DARLAM had only been

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