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

90 7 General environmental protection issues 7.1 Protection of the environment in the Alligator Rivers Region Full details on the management arrangements for Kakadu National Park, the regulatory arrangements governing the mining of uranium in the Region, the supervisory responsibilities of the Commonwealth Government exercised through the Supervising Scientist, and the record of protection of Kakadu from environmental impact are presented in Johnston and Needham (1999) (Attachment A, Protection of the environment near the Ranger uranium mine). The standard of environment protection that has been demanded by the Supervising Scientist has, from the commencement of mining in the Region, been among the highest in the world. Key in environmental protection are the Ramsar listed wetlands within the Kadadu National Park World Heritage Area. These seasonal wetlands present the greatest potential for damage from anthropic activity and have always received the highest attention from the Supervising Scientist. For the protection of these aquatic ecosystems, a control regime was implemented that was based on both chemical and biological assessment. In both cases, the approach adopted was consistent with the principles of Sustainable Development (Brundtland 1988) but was many years in advance of the international adoption of these principles. Given the very high value attributed to Kakadu National Park by the Australian Government and the Australian community, the policy adopted in the development of chemical receiving water standards was that concentrations of chemical constituents should not be allowed to depart significantly from their natural values unless there existed strong scientific evidence that any proposed change would not give rise to biological or chemical impact. Based on this policy, a strategy for development of appropriate standards was derived. In brief, a criterion that was considered conservative by biological scientists was adopted to determine what change from natural values could be assessed as not being biologically significant. A site specific assessment was then made to determine which chemicals would not meet this criterion, were waters to be discharged from the Ranger mine. These chemicals were considered critical constituents. The available scientific data for this small number of critical constituents were examined to determine their adequacy for the setting of appropriate standards. For those for which the data were inadequate, toxicological tests were carried out on local native species to derive suitable standards. This approach, developed by the Supervising Scientist, was accepted by the Australian and Northern Territory Governments. Water quality standards were then able to be deduced and applied more widely in the region. In retrospect, the policy can be seen as what would now be described as a precautionary aproach. Similarly, the policy adopted in developing biological methods for the control and monitoring of water discharges from the Ranger mine was that the procedures used in the water management system at the mine should result in no detectable change in the species and community diversity of a set of aquatic animals in waterbodies downstream from the mine site. The strategy for achieving this objective was to implement a regime of stringent ecotoxicological tests prior to the discharge of any water from the mine site and to implement an extensive program of biological monitoring. The ecotoxicological tests determine the lowest concentration of the effluent in creek water at which a change is detected for some sensitive measure of the animals health (the LOEC) and the highest concentration at which no effect is observed (the NOEC). These values are

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