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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

91 then used to specify the minimum dilution for effluent when discharged into surface waters. In specifying this minimum dilution, a factor of safety is applied to give protection against within-species variability, between-species variability and statistical uncertainties. The choice of species tested was made following an extensive period of research by the Supervising Scientist during which about 20 different species of local aquatic animals and plants were examined to determine the most sensitive species to waters at Ranger and species that could be successfully bred and maintained in the laboratory. The large number of species examined, the use of local native species and the use of a safety factor in specifying the dilution are factors that make the testing program for release of water to the Magela system the most rigorous anywhere in Australia and possibly the world. The biological monitoring program includes: (a) tests that enable a short-term assessment of the impact of release, so that immediate management action can be implemented should effects be observed, and (b) tests that assess the long-term impact of the mining operation on aquatic ecosystems. The short-term tests are essentially toxicological tests on certain species carried out in the field downstream from the mine and use sensitive endpoints (for example, survival of larval fish and the egg production rate of freshwater snails) in local native species. The long-term tests search for changes in species and community diversity by examining the community structure of fish and macroinvertebrates identified to the species level. A full analysis of the results of these monitoring programs, as well as radiological monitoring programs, is presented in Johnston and Needham (1999). This report shows that the concentrations of all chemical constituents have, throughout the entire period of mining, remained below the standards recommended by the Supervising Scientist, that operation of the mine has had no detectable impact on a range of sensitive indicators of ecological health including the survival of larval fish, the reproduction of freshwater snails, the migration patterns of fish, and the community structure of fish and macroinvertebrates, and that the radiation exposure of people living in the vicinity of the mine, either through consumption of foods collected from downstream waters or through radon dispersed from the mine site, has always been significantly lower than the internationally recommended limit on radiation exposure of members of the public. In summary, 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. 7.2 The Ranger and the Jabiluka milling alternatives The report of the Mission of the World Heritage Committee to Kakadu noted (section 7.3) that two options for the milling of ore from the Jabiluka mine have been proposed by ERA and assessed by the Government. These options are known as the Ranger Mill Alternative (RMA) and the Jabiluka Mill Alternative (JMA). Under the RMA option, ore would be transported from Jabiluka to the Ranger mine site where it would be processed in the existing mill. Transportation would be along a specially constructed road 22.5 km in length. No part of this road would be in Kakadu National Park. All tailings produced from the milling of the Jabiluka ore would be deposited in the mined