Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Environment Protection (Alligator Rivers Region) Act - Supervising Scientist for the Alligator Rivers Region - Report - 1993-94


Download PDF Download PDF

Supervising Scientist —

Annual Report 1993-1994

S upervising S cientist

ANNUAL REPORT

1993-94

Australian Government Publishing Service Canberra

©Commonwealth of Australia ISSN 0 1 5 8 -4 0 3 0

This work is copyright. Apart from any use as permitted under the Copyright Act 1968, no part may be reproduced by any process without written permission from the Australian Government Publishing Service. Requests and inquiries concerning reproduction and rights should be addressed to the Manager, Commonwealth Information Services, Australian Government Publishing Service, GPO Box 84, Canberra, ACT 2601.

Produced by the Australian Government Publishing Service

Editing and layout by Janet Salisbury

Supervising Scientist For the Alligator Rivers Region Telephone: (06) 274 1222 · Fax: (06) 273 5019

PO Box E348 Queen Victoria Terrace PARKES ACT 2600

Level 2 Tourism House 40 Blackall Street

BARTON ACT

23 September 1994

Senator The Hon John Faulkner Minister for the Environment, Sport and Territories Parliament House

CANBERRA ACT 2600

Dear Minister

In accordance with subsection 36(1) of the Environment Protection (Alligator Rivers Region) Act 1978 (the Act), I submit to you the sixteenth Annual Report of the Supervising Scientist on the operation of the Act during the period 1 July 1993 to 30 June 1994.

Yours sincerely,

Barry Carbon Supervising Scientist

DARWIN OFFICE: 6th Floor, MLC Building, 81 Smith Street, Darwin, NT 0800. GPO Box 461, Darwin, NT 0801. Phone: (089) 81 4230 - Fax: (089) 81 4316 JABIRU EAST LABORATORY: PMB 2 PO Jabiru. NT 0886. Phone: (089) 79 9711 - Fax: (089) 79 2076

Ministerial responsibility

Ministerial responsibility for the Environment Protection (Alligator Rivers Region) Act 1978 and the Environment Protection (Alligator Rivers Region) Am endm ent Act 1993, at 30 June 1994:

Minister of State for the Environment, Sport and Territories Senator the Honourable John Faulkner

As required by s.36( 1) o f the Act this annual report has been submitted to the minister as soon as practicable after 30 June 1993. Subsection 36(5) of the Act requires the minister to table this report in each House o f the Parliament within 15 sitting days from the date of receipt.

Contact officer

The contact officer for queries relating to this report is:

Dr Patrick McBride Office o f the Supervising Scientist PO Box E348, Queen Victoria Terrace, PAKKES ACT 2601 Telephone: (06) 274 1880; Facsimile: (06) 273 5019

Foreword

Subsection 36(1) o f the Environment Protection (Alligator Rivers Region) Act 1978 [EP(ARR) Act], requires the Supervising Scientist to provide an annual report to Parliament on the operation of the Act and on certain related matters. As a result of an amendment to the EP(ARR) Act in December 1993, the Supervising Scientist and his support organisation has been amalgamated with the Environment Protection Agency (EPA), in the Department o f the Environment, Sport and Territories (DEST).

All corporate information, including financial and personnel matters, relating to the operation of the Supervising Scientist during 1993-94 has therefore been incorporated in the DEST 1993-94 Annual Report (see Appendix 8)

This report contains the information required in the EP(ARR) Act, namely:

• any directions given to the Supervising Scientist by the minister;

• information on the collection and assessment o f information relating to the environmental effects o f mining in the Alligator Rivers Region;

• standards, practices and procedures in relation to mining operations adopted or changed during the year, and the environmental effects o f those changes;

• measures taken to protect or restore the environment from the effects of mining in the region;

• requirements forming prescribed instruments which were enacted, made, adopted or issued and which relate to the environment;

• implementation of the prescribed instruments related to the environment; and

• a statement o f the cost o f operations of the Supervising Scientist.

The changes in organisational and operational arrangements introduced as a consequence o f the 1993 amendment to the EP(ARR) Act are also described, as are results o f research undertaken to underpin the supervisory and assessment roles o f the Supervising Scientist.

Structure of the report

C hapters 1 -3 These three chapters provide a corporate overview o f the Supervising Scientist's organisation and an account of the administrative arrangements involved in the administration o f the EP(ARR) Act. Because o f the major changes that have occurred during the 1993-94 reporting period, attention has been paid to the new arrangements and reviews o f operations that have either already occurred or are still progressing.

• Chapter 1 — provides background information on uranium mining in the Alligator Rivers Region, the EP(ARR) Act and the objectives, limctions, resources and 1993-94 performance indicators for the Supervising Scientist.

• Chapter 2 — provides an overview o f the administrative arrangements for the environmental protection o f the Alligator Rivers Region under the EP(ARR) Act and the changes that have been made as a result of the December 1993 amendment o f the Act.

• Chapter 3 — describes the important review o f research priorities that has been carried out as a result of the amendment to the Act.

C hapters 4 -7 These chapters contain program reports for the various supervisory and research programs of the organisation.

• Chapter 4 — provides an account of the supervisory and assessment role o f the Office o f the Supervising Scientist (OSS) in monitoring the adequacy of environmental protection measures from the effects of uranium mining in the Alligator Rivers Region.

• Chapter 5 — reviews the program of the research institute in Jabiru, relating to the actual and potential effects of uranium mining in the Alligator Rivers Region.

• Chapter 6 — describes a number of conferences, workshops and seminars that OSS and research institute staff attended relating to environmental protection and radiological safety issues.

• Chapter 7 — the 1993 amendment to the EP(ARR) Act allows for the

involvement of the Supervising Scientist in environmental issues outside the Alligator Rivers Region and this chapter describes some of the activities undertaken by OSS during the reporting year.

vi

Contents

Foreword.......................................................................................................................... v

Structure of the report....................................................................................

Supervising Scientist's overview.................................................................

1 INTRODUCTION

1.1 Uranium mines and deposits o f the Alligator Rivers Region.............. 3 1.2 Objective and functions of the Supervising Scientist........................... 4

2 ADMINISTRATIVE ARRANGEMENTS

2.1 1993-94 — a year o f change................................................................. 5

2.2 Changes in organisational arrangements............................................... 7

2.2.1 Staffing........................................................................................ 7

2.2.2 Cost of operations...................................................................... 7

2.2.3 Information technology planning and development functions...................................................................................... 8

2.3 Legislative and institutional arrangements............................................ 8

2.3.1 New institutional arrangements................................................. 9

2.3.2 Environmental performance reviews.......................................... 14

2.3.3 Revision of the working arrangements with the Northern Territory Government.................................................17

2.3.4 Review o f environmental requirements — Ranger mine........18 2.3.5 Review of mechanisms for consultation and information exchange........................................................................................18

3 REVIEW OF RESEARCH PRIORITIES

3.1 Review of environment protection research............................................ 21

3.1.1 Baseline research......................................................................... 22

3.1.2 Operational phase research.........................................................22

3.1.3 Rehabilitation research............................................................... 23

3.1.4 Techniques research....................................................................24

3.1.5 Future directions for the research institute............................... 24

4 ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENTS

4.1 Introduction................................................................................................27

4.2 Ranger mine..............................................................................................28

4.2.1 Applications and alterations.........................................................30

4.2.2 Technical divergences from the Ranger General Authorisation............................................................................... 31

4.2.3 Environmental performance........................................................33

4.2.4 Water management system.........................................................34

4.2.5 Radiological exposure to employees and the public.................38

vii

* <

4.3 Nabarlek mine...........................................................................................38

4.3.1 Developments...............................................................................39

4.3.2 Applications and alterations....................................................... 39

4.3.3 Environmental performance....................................................... 42

4.3.4 Decommissioning and rehabilitation..........................................43

4.3.5 Groundwater quality....................................................................44

4.4 Jabiluka (North Ranger) and Koongarra............................................... 44

4.5 Exploration............................................................................................... 44

5 RESEARCH IN THE ALLIGATOR RIVERS REGION

5.1 Introduction.............................................................................................. 47

5.2 Research highlights.................................................................................. 48

5.2.1 Biological monitoring programs for aquatic ecosystems......48 5.2.2 Ecological effects arising from the use of herbicides to control Salvinia molesta in Kakadu National Park.................50 5.2.3 Investigations of seepage from the Ranger tailings dam ........51 5.3 Project progress reports.......................................................................... 53

5.4 Animal experimentation ethics................................................................ 60

5.5 Personnel and administrative matters.....................................................60

5.5.1 Consultancy services................................................................... 60

5.5.2 Work experience and training at ER1SS................................... 61

5.5.3 Scholarships..................................................................................62

5.5.4 Library..........................................................................................62

5.6 Investigations undertaken by the Office of the Supervising Scientist.....................................................................................................63

5.6.1 Uranium mill tailings disposal................................................... 63

5.6.2 Revegetation techniques in the tropics...................................... 63

5.6.3 Acidity and salinity tolerance o f vegetation..............................63

5.6.4 Ranger mine environmental performance — predictions vs experience................................................................................64

6 CONFERENCES, SEMINARS AND WORKSHOPS

6.1 Symposium on management and rehabilitation of waste rock dumps........................................................................................................ 65

6.2 North Australian Remote Sensing and Geographic Information Systems Forum ........................................................................................ 66

6.3 Alligator Rivers Region Geographic Information System W orkshop................................................................................................. 66

6.4 ERISS Biological Monitoring Program Workshop...............................67

6.5 Radon and radon progeny measurements in Australia......................... 67

7 ACTIVITIES OUTSIDE THE ALLIGATOR RIVERS REGION

7.1 Visiting Ships Panel (Nuclear)................................................................69

7.2 Rehabilitation o f former atomic weapon test sites................................69

7.3 Radioactive waste repository..................................................................70

viii

Appendixes

1 Financial expenditure............................................................................................ 71

2 Information technology planning and future development functions...............73 3 Attendees at the first Alligator Rivers Region Advisory Committee meeting 75 4 List of publications, 1993-94...............................................................................77

5 Consultancies, 1993-94........................................................................................87

6 Overseas visits by ERISS staff, 1993-94........................................................... 89

7 Abbreviations and acronyms.................................................................................91

8 Annual report requirement checkbst.................................................................. 93

I n d e x ................................................................................................................................ 95

Figures

1.1 The AUigator Rivers Region................................................................................. 2

2.1 Organisational structure for the Supervising Scientist....................................... 6

2.2 An example page from the Ranger environmental performance review ........ 16 4.1 Vertical aerial photograph of the Ranger mine site ........................................... 28

4.2 Ranger mine-site location m ap............................................................................ 29

4.3 View looking over Ranger mine pit in October 1993 ...................................... 32

4.4 General water quality parameters for R P 1......................................................... 35

4.5 Uranium and sulfate concentrations in R P 2 .......................................................35

4.6 Uranium and sulfate concentrations in R P 4.......................................................36

4.7 Part o f the Ranger irrigation area in September 1993 showing white efflorescence (magnesium sulfate) on the ground surface............................... 37

4.8 View o f the Nabarlek mine site looking north....................................................40

4.9 Nabarlek mine-site location m ap .........................................................................41

4.10 View looking northwest over the Nabarlek tailings pit in November 1993 .. 42 4.11 Map of mine leases and exploration licenses........................................................ 45

5.1 Variation with time o f (a) sulfate and 226Ra concentrations; and (b) 228Ra/226Ra ratio for water collected from bore OB 11A at Ranger... 47 5.2 Representative sulfur isotope ratios (d 34S values) for samples from the Ranger lease area ..................................................................................................54

5.3 Pop-net technique being used to sample fish populations in a Magela Creek billabong containing dense aquatic vegetation......................56 5.4 Rainfall simulation experiment at Tin Camp Creek to study runoff and erosion under controlled conditions...................................................58

T ables

4.1 Ranger: ore reserves and mineral resources, June 1993...................................30

4.2 Ranger: mine and mill production........................................................................30

4.3 Applications and approvals for variation to the Ranger General Authorisation ......................................................................................... 31

4.4 Applications and approvals for variation to the Nabarlek Consolidated Authorisation......................................................................................................... 39

ix

N ote on term inology

In 1993 the Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service (ANPWS) changed its name to the Australian Nature Conservation Agency (ANCA). This change has been achieved by administrative arrangement rather than amendment of the relevant legislation covering the operation of ANPWS and the Director. Under the Environment Protection (Alligator Rivers Region) Act 1978, therefore, various functions are ascribed specifically to the Director of National Parks and Wildlife (not the CEO, ANCA). For the purposes of this report the name ANCA is used except where the content refers to the statutory functions of the Director under the Act.

Supervising Scientist's overview

The year has been one of great change. The legislation that sets out the functions and powers o f the Supervising Scientist — the Environment Protection (Alligator Rivers Region) Act 1978 — was amended significantly in December 1993 and the amendment came into effect in February 1994. This resulted in far reaching changes to

the size and scope o f the organisation, method of operation, relationships with key clients, and the focus o f environmental research carried out in the Alligator Rivers Region.

The position o f Supervising Scientist was filled for 15 years by Mr R.M. Fry until his retirement in April 1993. Dr G.H. Riley (previously Deputy Supervising Scientist) acted in the position until February 1994. The amendment to the Act also provided for the position of Supervising Scientist to be changed to an appointment under the

Public Service Act 1922, and Mr Barry Carbon assumed the responsibilities in addition to his other responsibilities as Executive Director o f the Environment Protection Agency (EPA).

As well as these changes, the budget appropriation was reduced substantially, and negotiations were started to replace the Uranium Export Levy with other funding arrangements from industry. The reduced budget has meant that efficiencies have had to be gained. This has been achieved by reduction in staffing levels, new operational

arrangements and a review of research priorities.

Despite these far-reaching changes the main function of this organisation, that is surveillance o f the effectiveness of

environment protection at the Ranger and Nabarlek uranium mines in the Alligator Rivers Region, continued, as did research into a range of related

matters (see below). The closer

relationship with the EPA has broadened the relevance of the Supervising

Scientist's work, particularly in the areas of advice on nuclear issues and aquatic ecosystems research.

Energy Resources Australia Limited (ERA) continued mining and milling of uranium at the Ranger mine, and no significant impacts upon the environment

were recorded. Some crystallisation of magnesium sulfate salts on the ground surface of the land application area in the Mr Barry Carbon, the Supervising Scientist

xi

late Dry season indicated that levels o f sulfate in the soils of the land application area are increasing, resulting from irrigation o f water from retention pond RP2. The salts were dissolved in the first rains o f the Wet season. Scientists from the research institute examined the flora and aquatic fauna in the area and in the adjacent Magela Creek, and found them to be largely unaffected.

Preparations for rehabilitation continued at the Nabarlek site, where milling ceased in 1988. No new environmental impacts were recorded, and the quality of groundwater affected by irrigation o f wastewaters enriched with ammonium sulfate in 1986 continued to show signs o f improvement. As in the previous year, water collected in evaporation ponds EP1 and EP2 was allowed to flow to the environment provided that it met the quality standard agreed by the Supervising Scientist and the Northern

Territory regulators. Preparations for the disposal of the processing plant continued, through notices o f sale by tender.

There was no change in status of the Koongarra and Jabiluka uranium deposits. There is no permanent presence on either site. ERA renamed the Jabiluka deposits ‘North Ranger’, and continued drilling to further define the resource.

The Commonwealth environment minister commissioned a review of the current Commonwealth environment protection research needs in the Alligator Rivers Region. The Supervising Scientist received the report of the review in February 1994 and, taking into account the legislative changes and the reduced budget o f the Alligator Rivers Region Research Institute, decided that future research at the institute will be in two primary programs: (a) environment protection from the effects o f mining, particularly uranium mining; and (b) environment protection of the wetlands of northern Australia, especially those in Kakadu National Park. To reflect the new focus of the research the name of the research institute has been changed to the Environmental Research Institute o f the Supervising Scientist.

During 1993-94 research scientists from the institute continued analysis and interpretation of biological monitoring data collected at sites on the South Alligator River. The results show that the techniques developed by researchers at the institute, involving measurements o f the differences between communities of

macroinvertebrates at different sites, are powerful methods for the detection of impact on aquatic ecosystems arising from the effects of mining. In addition, the-data imply that a high level of sensitivity can be achieved after a baseline (or pre-mining) period o f only 3-5 years.

Following an approach from the Australian Nature Conservation Agency, the research institute undertook a study of the ecological effects on non-target organisms that could arise as a result of the use of herbicides in Kakadu National Park to control the spread of the noxious weed Salvinia molesta. This investigation showed that concentrations of the herbicide in surface waters immediately after a spraying program are not likely to cause harm to the range o f aquatic animals and plants tested. In addition, modelling of the nutrient cycle following decomposition o f the affected plant material indicates no great risk from nutrient enhancement, but leads to the recommendation that treatment be undertaken just before the onset o f the Wet season to enable rapid flushing o f nutrients from the treated billabong.

xii

In another project, institute researchers have continued to investigate the sources of increased radium and sulfate in groundwater and surface collectors near the Ranger tailings dam. The results have shown that the increase in radium concentrations is not attributable to the direct movement of radium from the dam. It is caused by the

increase in salinity of the groundwater arising from seepage; tins leads to desorption of radium from soils and rocks o f the aquifer. Isotopic ratio techniques were used to determine the contribution of seepage to water in deep bores and in the north wall seepage collector. The results for the seepage collector show that while only 8 per

cent of the water pumped annually from the collector arises from seepage, about 45 per cent o f the amtual sulfate load in the collector is attributable to seepage.

The many changes that have been undertaken have significantly altered the character and efficiency o f the Supervising Scientist's operations. The future strength of the organisation is being built on collaboration with key stakeholders for the measurement of environmental performance, and a research program of broader relevance to issues

of national interest.

xiii

___________ Λ

INTRODUCTION

The Alligator Rivers Region (ARR) is centred 220 kilometres east of Darwin in the Northern Territory (Figure 1.1). The region covers an area of about 28 000 square kilometres extending east into Arnhem Land and including the catchments o f the West, South and East Alligator Rivers. Much of the region is Aboriginal land with a

rich cultural heritage and many sites o f particular significance to Aboriginal people.

The ARR is rich in natural resources and contains many physical and biological features o f high conservation value. Terrestrial and aquatic features include sandstone heathland, open woodland, rivers, flood plains, permanent billabongs and seasonal watercourses. Large high-grade uranium deposits were discovered in the early 1970s.

The ARR has many land uses, including the conservation of plant and animal communities, preservation o f natural features, occupancy by traditional landholders, mining, tourism, recreation, scientific study and education.

Kakadu National Park, which is managed by the Australian Nature Conservation Agency (ANCA),1 lies within the Alligator Rivers Region. Stages 1, 2 and 3 of Kakadu National Park are included on the World Heritage List and much of the region has been inscribed on the Register of the National Estate.

In August 1977, following consideration o f the recommendations of the Ranger Uranium Environmental Inquiry (RUEI), the Commonwealth Government decided that mining and export of uranium could proceed in the ARR subject to the adoption of stringent health and environmental standards. The Commonwealth Government

retained ownership of uranium when the Northern Territory was granted self­ government in July 1978.

As a prerequisite for approval for uranium mining operations to proceed, and hi recognition o f the unique environment o f the ARR and the interests of the Aboriginal people of the area, RUEI recommended that a complex package of environmental protection measures be implemented. These measures included the establishment of

Kakadu National Park and the appointment of a ‘Supervising Scientist’, with direct responsibilities to a Commonwealth minister (now the Minister for the Environment, Sport and Territories) to supervise the integration of research and monitoring programs needed to protect the environment of the ARR from the effects of uranium

mining.

'Formerly the Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service

1

Van Diemen G ulf

Field Island^

f*i§Barlek J

1 P ro je c t A rea

to

13° 3 0 'S

LEGEND:

K akadu N atio n al Park

Moline

B o u n d ary o f th e ARR

E s c a rp m e n t & p la te a u

L o w lan d s

Land su b ject to in u ndation NSSSSSl

F lood p lain I..= = = l J

Uranium m ining o p e ra tio n I 3? I

NORTHERN

TERRITORY

L O C A L IT Y D IA G R A M

Figure 1.1 The Alligator Rivers Region

2

Following the RUEI recommendations, and to ensure that a high degree of environmental protection would be achieved in the ARR. the Commonwealth Government enacted the Environment Protection (Alligator Rivers Region) Act 1978, which established the statutory position o f Supervising Scientist fo r the Alligator Rivers Region. The Act was amended in December 1993 (see Chapter 2) and the

amendment came into effect in February 1994. The objectives and functions o f the Supervising Scientist are shown in Section 1.2.

1.1 Uranium mines and deposits of the Alligator Rivers Region

Energy Resources o f Australia Ltd (ERA) operates the Ranger mine located eight kilometres east o f the township o f Jabiru. The Ranger mine lies within the 78 square kilometre Ranger Project Area, and is located adjacent to Magela Creek, a tributary of the East Alligator River. The Ranger Project Area is located within, but does not form part of, Kakadu National Park. The mining and commercial production o f uranium

concentrate at Ranger has been under way since 1981.

Queensland Mines Pty Ltd (QMPL) operated the Nabarlek mine and mill which is located near Cooper Creek, a tributary o f the East Alligator River, in Amhem Land. All of the small, high-grade orebody was mined by open pit methods and stockpiled during the 1979 Dry season, and its processing was completed by June 1988. The

final decommissioning and rehabilitation of the Nabarlek mill complex and site has been deferred since that time, pending the results of further exploration by QMPL in other parts o f its exploration licence as any new-found ore deposits might have been able to be treated at the existing mill.

There are two other significant uranium deposits that have been discovered in the ARR. These are the Jabiluka (North Ranger) deposit, located near Magela Creek 20 kilometres downstream from Ranger, and the Koongarra deposit in the Nourlangie Creek system, a tributary of the South Alligator River. Both o f these deposits are in

defined project areas within Kakadu National Park. The Jabiluka Project Area is excised from the park. An Act providing for the excision o f the Koongarra Project Area was passed in 1981 but has not been proclaimed.

Following its purchase from Pancontinental Mining Ltd on 21 August 1991, the Jabiluka uranium deposit is controlled by ERA. In April 1992 Denison Mines Ltd began transferring a 70 per cent interest in its Koongarra holding to Cogema of France. The transfer to Cogema is planned to take place over four years.

3

1.2 Objective and functions of the Supervising Scientist

O bjective o f the Supervising S cien tist

The central objective o f the Supervising Scientist is to ensure that the environmental protection regime and regulatory arrangements established fo r the protection o f the environment o f the Alligator Rivers Region from the effects o f uranium mining operations, are adequate to meet the high standards o f environment protection fo r

the region demanded by the Commonwealth Government and the public.

F u nctions o f the Supervising S cien tist

In summary, the functions o f the Supervising Scientist, as specified in the Environment Protection (Alligator Rivers Region) Amendment Act 1993 are to:

• develop, co-ordinate and manage programs of research into the effects on the environment o f uranium mining operations within the Alligator Rivers Region; • develop standards, practices and procedures that will protect the environment and people from the effects of uranium mining operations within the Alligator

Rivers Region;

• develop measures for the protection and restoration of the environment; • co-ordinate and supervise the implementation of environmental requirements; and • provide the Minister for the Environment, Sport and f erritories with scientific

and technical advice on the environmental effects of mining in the Alligator Rivers Region, and also on environmental matters outside the region.

RESOURCES

Budget (1993-94) $6.6 million

Staff (as at 30 June 1994): Canberra 5 Darwin 5 Jabiru 45

The S up ervisin g S cien tist's 1 9 9 3 -9 4 perform ance indicators

• Reinforce the position o f Supervising Scientist. • Streamline senior positions and rationalise functions, staffing, and location. • Commission and acquire a report on the functions of the research institute. • Create new open relationships with key stakeholders and with staff • Redefine and start to implement new management arrangements, and new

working arrangements with the Northern Territory Government. • Acquire administrative efficiencies related to the amalgamation with the Environment Protection Agency.

4

ADMINISTRATIVE ARRANGEMENTS _______________________________2

O bjective o f adm inistrative c h a n g e s

Implement wide-ranging administrative changes required under the 1993 amendment to the Environment Protection (Alligator Rivers Region) Act 1978, including reduced staffing and expenditure, revised institutional arrangements, improved relationships with key clients, and more effective information flow.

2.1 1993-94 — a year of change

The 1993-94 year has been one o f great change for the Supervising Scientist because of changes to the enabling legislation, the Environment Protection (Alligator Rivers Region) Act 1978 [EP(ARR Act], and a government decision concerning funding, research directions and functions. The 1993 Amendment Act came into effect on 16

February 1994. The major changes are as follows:

• the Supervising Scientist has the additional function of giving to the minister, on the minister’s request, scientific and technical advice on environmental matters outside the Alligator Rivers Region;

• the Supervising Scientist, previously a statutory appointment, is now appointed under the Public Service Act 1922. This has enabled the Office of the Supervising Scientist for the Alligator Rivers Region to become part of the Environment Protection Agency (EPA), and for the Executive Director o f the

EPA to be appointed as the Supervising Scientist;

• the former Co-ordinating Committee for the Alligator Rivers Region has been abolished and two new committees have been established — an advisory committee and a technical committee (see Section 2.3.2) each with an independent chairperson; and

• the research institute may undertake, on a commercial basis, research on environmental matters for other parties.

The reason for altering the committee structure was to improve relationships between the Supervising Scientist and key stakeholders. The government decision called for the discontinuation of functions regarded as duplicating the day-to-day regulatory and inspectorial function of the Northern Territory Department of Mines and Energy

(NTDME) and encouraged a new emphasis on environmental outcomes. It also called for a review of the research program, reduced the Supervising Scientist's budget by about 25 per cent (to be brought into effect over two financial years) and outlined the replacement of the Uranium Export Levy with an alternative arrangement

comprising indexed contributions by ERA to the costs o f research.

5

Following the retirement o f Mr RM Fry from the position of Supervising Scientist on 17 April 1993, Dr GH Riley (previously Deputy Supervising Scientist) acted in the position from 17 August 1993 until 15 February 1994, when Mr B Carbon assumed the responsibilities o f Supervising Scientist in addition to his other responsibilities as Executive Director o f the EPA. The objective and functions of the Supervising

Scientist are shown in Section 1.2 and the structure of the supporting organisation is shown in Figure 2.1.

In March, shortly after completing his period as Acting Supervising Scientist, Dr Glen Riley retired from the Office of the Supervising Scientist. Dr Riley joined the staff of the Supervising Scientist in 1980 as director o f the research institute and he later became Deputy Supervising Scientist. His time with the organisation saw its development from a nucleus o f some 20 staff to a research and environmental protection organisation comprising more than 70 staff. Dr Riley made a strong contribution to the scientific development o f the Office of the Supervising Scientist and to establishing its profile with client organisations.

SUPERVISING SCIENTIST Barry Carbon Tel: 274 1583 fax: 274 1600

OFFICE OF THE SUPERVISING SCIENTIST Stewart N eedham T e l: 2 7 4 1 7 8 6 fa x : 2 7 3 5 0 1 9

ENVIRONMENT RESEARCH INSTITUTE OF THE SUPERVISING SCIENTIST (Jabiru) Arthur Johnston

Tel: (089) 799 70 0 fax: (089) 792 4 99

CANBERRA OFFICE WETLAND MANAGEMENT

Patrick Me Bride Tel: 274 1880 Max Finlayson Tel: (089) 799 756

F a x : 2 7 3 5 0 1 9 ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT

OF MINING

DARWIN OFFICE Riaz Akber Tel: (089) 799 737

Tel: (089)814 230 Chris McQuade CORPORATE SERVICES

Peter Waggitt Daryl Lehmann Tel: (089) 799 730

F a x : ( 0 8 9 ) 8 1 4 3 1 6 Fax: (0 8 9 ) 7 9 2 0 7 6

Figure 2.1 Organisational structure for the Supervising Scientist

6

2.2 Changes in organisational arrangements

The organisational arrangements have been simplified (Figure 2.1). Prior to the reorganisation there was a Corporate Services and Policy Co-ordination Branch in Canberra; a Supervisory and Assessment Branch with personnel in both Canberra and Darwin, and the Alligator Rivers Region Research Institute in Jabiru, Northern

Territory. Following amalgamation with the EPA, the Corporate Services and Policy Co-ordination Branch was disbanded, and its functions partly transferred to the corporate services areas of the EPA and the Department o f the Environment, Sport and Territories (DEST). Owing to the remote location o f the research institute at

Jabiru, much of the financial and administrative functions necessary to its operations are still performed on site.

The amended legislation allows the research institute to conduct work outside the Alligator Rivers Region, and to reflect this broader scope, the name of the institute has been changed from the Alligator Rivers Region Research Institute, to the Environmental Research Institute o f the Supervising Scientist (ERISS).

The style o f operation of the Darwin-based staff of the Supervisory and Assessment Branch has changed to avoid duplication of the inspectorial role o f the NTDME. Also the functions of the Canberra-based staff of the branch have become closely attuned to the nuclear and mining policy requirements of the EPA and DEST and the need to

supply secretariat-type support to the Supervising Scientist. As the name no longer accurately reflects the work done, it has been dropped, and the branch is referred to as the Office o f the Supervising Scientist (OSS).

A consequence of the reorganisation is that the research function o f ERISS and the policy and assessment functions o f the Canberra and Darwin staff are now more clearly differentiated. To reflect this ERISS and OSS now form discrete units, each reporting directly to the Supervising Scientist (Figure 2.1). Consistent with the

broader role, the suffix ‘Alligator Rivers Region’ is no longer used in reference to the Supervising Scientist.

2.2.1 Staffing

The budget reduction, amalgamation with the EPA, and internal reorganisation have had a significant impact upon staffing. Staff numbers in the Canberra office have reduced from fourteen to five and in the research institute at Jabiru from 52 to 45. The number of staff in the Darwin office has remained at five.

2.2.2 C o st o f o p eration s

Actual expenditure from appropriations in 1993-94 was $6.6 million, down approximately $ 1 million from the previous year's expenditure as a consequence o f a budget reduction o f $340 000, and partly because the previous year's expenditure included additional funds to move the Sydney office to Canberra (see Appendix 1).

The government decision to reduce the Supervising Scientist's budget by $1.5 million is to be introduced over two financial years, and so the level of appropriation funding for 1994— 95 will be reduced by a further $1.16 million.

7

A contribution to the cost of the Commonwealth Government's environment protection programs in the region is paid into consolidated revenue by ERA. This payment has in the past taken the form o f a Uranium Export Levy, which has varied dependent upon the levy rate and the amount of uranium exported. This mechanism is being reviewed. The Commonwealth Government and ERA signed a deed of

agreement on 19 August 1994 foreshadowing change to an annual indexed contribution (1994-95 base $1.5 million per year).

2.2.3 Information te ch n o lo g y planning and d evelop m en t fu n ction s

Appendix 2 shows details of the OSS/ERISS information technology developments for the 1993-94 year.

2.3 Legislative and institutional arrangements

Uranium mining companies in the Alligator Rivers Region must comply with Northern Territory regulatory requirements, and with the Commonwealth Government's environmental requirements (ERs).

The Northern Territory Government is responsible for establishing, under Northern Territory legislation, through leases, authorisations, approvals and other legal instruments, the operational conditions under which tiranium mining and mineral processing can take place. Northern Territory agencies are responsible for ensuring

compliance with these conditions, and, if necessary, for issuing directives to ensure that the regulatory requirements are met.

The Supervising Scientist collects and assesses information on the effect o f uranium mining operations on the ARR environment, and develops practices and measures for the protection and restoration o f the environment. The Supervising Scientist is also responsible for ensuring that the requirements of legislation (‘prescribed instruments’, see Annual Report o f the Supervising Scientist 1992-1993, Appendixes 6 and 7) and relevant regulations and codes of practice that relate to environmental matters

associated with uranium mining operations in the ARR, are carried out. Accordingly, the Supervising Scientist monitors the mining operations and the legislative arrangements to determine whether the Commonwealth Government's ERs are properly implemented.

The changes to the mode o f operation of the Supervising Scientist have required several changes to the institutional arrangements for interactions with its key clients. The new institutional framework comprises the following components.

New mechanisms

• Alligator Rivers Region Advisory Committee • Alligator Rivers Region Technical Committee • Environmental performance reviews

8

Mechanisms under review

• ‘Working arrangements’ with the Northern Territory Government • Commonwealth environmental requirements • Ranger Periodic Surveillance Committee • Nabarlek Decommissioning Working Group

• Ranger Rehabilitation Technical Working Group

2.3.1 New institutional arrangem ents

The revised institutional and supervisory arrangements which came into force during the year as a result o f amendment to the EP(ARR) Act provide for replacement of the Co-ordinating Committee for the Alligator Rivers Region by two new committees. The Alligator Rivers Region Advisory Committee is a fomm for information exchange

between the mining companies; government authorities o f the Northern Territory and the Commonwealth; and environmental, Aboriginal and community groups. The Alligator Rivers Region Technical Committee will examine the research needs of the region, recommend research programs, and examine methods for the efficient co­

ordination and integration of research.

The functions, membership and operation o f the Advisory Committee are shown in Box 1. Nominations for membership have been received from all organisations and formal appointments will be made by the minister before the next meeting. Mr Ray Perry, a Perth-based independent consultant in natural resource management, has been

recommended as chairperson for a period of three years. Previous posts he has held include chief of the CSIRO Division of Land Resources Management and of the Division of Groundwater Research. He has served on numerous local, national and international committees and boards, often as chairman or president, and is well

respected for his abilities in this area. OSS provides secretarial support to the committee.

The functions, membership and operation o f the Technical Committee are shown in Box 2. Mr Ray Perry, who has been recommended as chairperson of the Advisory Committee for a period of three years, has also been recommended as chairperson for the Technical Committee for a similar period. The secretarial support for this

committee is to be provided by ERISS.

9

Box 1 Alligator Rivers Region Advisory Committee

Functions The functions o f the Advisory Committee are to provide a forum for information exchange and policy consultation with all stakeholders on:

• matters relating to the effects on the environment in the Alligator Rivers Region o f uranium mining operations in the region; and • matters relating to environmental research conducted in the region that are referred to it by the Alligator Rivers Region Technical Committee.

The committee may also provide to the Commonwealth environment minister written comments on any recommendations that the Technical Committee has made to the minister on the nature and extent of research required and the most appropriate organisations to conduct the research.

Membership The EP(ARR) Act requires that the Advisory Committee is to consist of:

• an independent chairperson;* • the Supervising Scientist; • the Director of National Parks and Wildlife;** • one member appointed by the minister on the nomination o f the Northern

Territory administrator; • one member appointed by the minister on the nomination o f the appropriate Aboriginal land council (the Northern Land Council); • one member nominated by an environmental organisation which has been

nominated by the minister; and • such other members as are from time to time appointed by the minister. These are expected to include representatives from:

- Energy Resources of Australia Ltd - Queensland Mining Proprietary Ltd - Department of Primary Industries and Energy (Cwlth) - Commonwealth Department o f Human Services and Health (Australian

Radiation Laboratories) - Northern Territories Department of Mines and Energy - Gagudju Association; Djabulukgu Association - Jabiru Town Council - Conservation Commission of the Northern Territory - peak conservation organisations

• The EP(ARR) Act requires that the chairperson of the Advisory Committee shall be appointed by the minister and states that the Supervising Scientist and the Director of National Parks and Wildlife or any members of their staff are ineligible for this position. ** i.e. see note on page x

Attendees at the initial meeting of the Advisory Committee are shown at Appendix 3.

10

Inputs It is expected that information provided to the committee will include:

• the report of the twice-yearly environmental performance reviews conducted by the Supervising Scientist and NTDME (see Section 2.3.2); • details o f any actions required as a consequence of the reviews, and a report of actions taken in response to previous reviews;

• research-related matters referred by the Alligator Rivers Region Technical Committee, including brief details of the nature and extent o f research required, the most appropriate organisations to conduct this research, and copies of any recommendations made to the Commonwealth environment minister; • twice-yearly reports from the mining companies evaluating and commenting on

the monitoring data they collect; • twice-yearly evaluation reports from NTDME on the results o f their check monitoring programs; • twice-yearly evaluation reports from the Supervising Scientist on the mining

company data and NTDME’s check monitoring program; • joint OSS/NTDME/mining company reports on any environmental incidents or events that have occurred since the previous meeting; • an overview document summarising any major issues arising from technical

working group meetings; • a summary o f the currently agreed water management and mine rehabilitation strategies for the mines; and • a summary o f the currently agreed plans.

Outputs The only formal outputs from the Advisory Committee specified in the EP(ARR) Act are written comments on any recommendations that the Technical Committee makes to the Commonwealth environment minister on research requirements and on the

organisations to conduct that research. However, it is hoped that the major outcome arising from the committee’s operations will be that all interested parties are informed on the environmental performance o f the uranium mining operations and adequately consulted on significant policy issues relating to protection and restoration o f the

ARR environment from the effects o f uranium mining operations.

Frequency and timing o f meetings As its primary role is a fomm for information exchange and policy consultation among interest groups, the Advisory Committee will meet twice a year to consider the outcomes o f the twice-yearly environmental performance reviews of mining

operations, immediately after the review process is completed. It is anticipated that meetings will normally take place in December and July. The first meeting was held on 15 July 1994.

Box 1 Alligator Rivers Region Advisory Committee (contd)

11

Box 2 Alligator Rivers Region Technical Committee

Functions The functions o f the Technical Committee are to:

• consider programs for research, and for the collection and assessment of information, relating to the effects on the Alligator Rivers Region environment from uranium mining operations;

• keep research programs under review;

• make recommendations to the Commonwealth environment minister on:

- the nature and extent of research necessary to protect and restore the environment in the Alligator Rivers Region - the most appropriate organisations to undertake this research; and

• refer to the Alligator Rivers Region Advisory Committee matters relating to the research programs and their execution, and provide the Advisory Committee with copies of recommendations made to the minister within fifteen days o f those recommendations being made.

Membership The EP(ARR) Act requires that the Technical Committee is to consist of:

• an independent chairperson;* • one member, with scientific or technical qualifications, appointed by the minister on the nomination of the appropriate Aboriginal land council; and • such other members as are from time to time appointed by the minister.

Other members o f the committee are expected to include the Director of the Environmental Research Institute of the Supervising Scientist and technical representatives of:

- Australian Nature Conservation Agency; - Northern Territory Department o f Mines and Energy; - Energy Resources Australia Ltd; - Queensland Mines Proprietary Ltd; - CSIRO Tropical Ecosystems Research Centre; - Northern Territory University; - Conservation Commission o f the Northern Territory - the Supervising Scientist.

• The EP(ARR) Act requires that the chairperson of the Technical Committee will be appointed by the minister and shall have appropriate scientific or technical qualifications. The Act stipulates that the Supervising Scientist and the Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Nature Conservation Agency or any members of their staff are ineligible for this position.

12

Inputs

In carrying out its functions, the Technical Committee will consider the following information:

• ERISS’s work plan, progress reports and proposals for future work (determined in consultation with OSS); • mining company research plans, progress reports, proposals for future work; • details o f environmental research programs, results and proposals provided by

NTDME, CSIRO, ANCA, Northern Land Council, Northern Territory University and any other bodies undertaking relevant research in the ARR; • reports o f the twice-yearly environmental performance reviews conducted by the Supervising Scientist and NTDME; and

• details of any research ramifications arising from meetings of the Periodic Surveillance Committees, the Ranger Rehabilitation Technical Working Group, the Nabarlek Decommissioning Committee, and other ad hoc technical working groups.

Outputs

The Technical Committee will recommend to the Commonwealth environment minister the appropriate nature and extent of research necessary to protect and restore the environment in the Alligator Rivers Region from the effects of uranium mining. It will also advise on the most appropriate organisations to undertake the

research. This advice will constitute key input into planning of the ERISS annual research program, and will also influence planning by other research organisations active in the region. Any recommendations to the minister will also be copied to the Alligator Rivers Region Advisory Committee. In addition, the Technical Committee

may refer to the Advisory Committee noteworthy matters relating to environmental research programs and the carrying out of these programs.

Frequency and timing o f meetings

It is proposed that the Technical Committee will meet once a year in about March. The committee will consider draft research proposals developed by consultation amongst members during the preceding months, in the context of the progress of on­

going research and monitoring programs. The recommendations will feed directly into detailed planning o f work programs for the ensuing financial year. (In the case of ERISS, this detailed planning takes place usually in June).

Box 2 Alligator Rivers Region Technical Committee (contd)

13

2.3.2 Environmental perform ance review s

The key component o f the new supervisory arrangements is the replacement of routine site inspections o f the mining operations, with twice-yearly reviews of the environmental performance of each uranium mining operation. This arrangement will avoid the unnecessary duplication by OSS o f some of the regulatory and monitoring responsibilities o f the Northern Territory regulators. In addition to assessing the environmental impacts of the mines, the reviews are also designed to address the mining companies' environmental management, research and planning activities, with a view to determining the likely future environmental performance o f the mines. Particular attention is given to identifying any mining practices, procedures and measures which threaten the ARR environment.

Under the working arrangements being negotiated with the Northern Territory regulators, the reviews are undertaken jointly by a review team comprising officers of the OSS and the NTDME. The first environmental performance reviews (EPRs) for Ranger and Nabarlek were conducted from 11-14 July 1994.

The review process involved construction o f an extensive questionnaire on environmental performance, meetings with the companies to gather responses to the questionnaire, examination of documentary evidence to verify the responses given, a site inspection, and an evaluation o f the adequacy of the response given to each question. The review team then prepared a summary report for presentation to the Alligator Rivers Region Advisory Committee at its inaugural meeting on 15 July

1994.

National and international examples o f environmental auditing processes were examined during development of the format and content of the EPRs. Emphasis was placed on the outcomes o f environmental management practice at the mine sites. More detailed questions examined operational aspects relevant to achieving the environmental outcomes.

An example of the layout o f the questionnaires, the responses and their evaluation, is shown in Figure 2.2. The outcomes o f the EPRs for Ranger and Nabarlek are described in Sections 4.2.3 and 4.3.3.

Questions for the Ranger mine covered the following areas:

1. Environmental management

- overview

- environmental preparedness - legislation and general

2. Environmental and public health monitoring and reporting

- overall impact

- monitoring regimes

- general monitoring

3. Water management

- overview

- water storage and disposal

14

4. Mine and mill operation

mine and stockpiles metallurgical plant tailings retention system support services

5. Environmental research.

The structure o f the Nabarlek questionnaire was similar, but placed emphasis on preparedness for mine rehabilitation instead of operational aspects, in view of the current status o f the project:

1. Environmental management

as for Ranger

2. Environmental and public health monitoring and reporting

overall impact

- monitoring regimes

trends and procedures

3. Water management

As for Ranger

4. Rehabilitation preparedness

overview engineering status ecological rehabilitation

J. Environmental research

The first two sections in each case were designed to provide an overview o f the adequacy of overall protection of the environment, by examining the operator's environmental policy and management practices, and assessing the level o f impact upon the environment and human health. The other sections record information on

operational and/or rehabilitation practices which have influenced the level of environmental performance achieved over the reporting period.

A preliminary report for each mine-site review was endorsed by representatives of OSS, NTDME and the relevant company, and presented to the Advisory Committee at its meeting on 15 July 1994. Details o f these reports are included in Sections 4.2 and 4.3.

A final report, incorporating minor corrections to the questionnaire responses, and a fuller summary of the outcomes, will be prepared and distributed to members o f the Advisory Committee before its next meeting. Future reviews will be designed to continue to provide the same level o f overall assurance on the adequacy of

environmental performance, but will also focus on particular aspects relevant to current operations, planned operations, or environmental issues. Discussions on the design o f the next EPR have already commenced with the main stakeholders.

15

Review Team Comments

Policy in place (eg RP3) but operating within constrictions of external criteria (ERs). For example, tailings seepage water and bund collected water cannot be released, but

may have better quality than less strictly controlled water.

RRZ well defined and details well communicated to staff.

Clearly defined designation of duties

Tailings designed for > 10 000 year rainfall event and RP2 designed for > 200 year rainfall event

Diversionary systems designed and in place and pumps in place. Use of pit as alternate repository as necessary.

F ig u re 2 .2 A n e x a m p le p a g e fro m th e R a n g e r e n v ir o n m e n ta l p e r fo r m a n c e re v ie w

2.3.3 R evision o f the working arrangem en ts with the Northern Territory G overnm ent

In 1978 the then prime minister and the then Northern Territory chief minister agreed that the day-to-day regulation o f uranium mining should be carried out to the maximum extent possible under Northern Territory law. The Northern Territory

Government enacted the Northern Territory Uranium Mining (Environment Control) Act 1979 [UM(EC) Act] for this purpose. The following year, the Commonwealth and the Northern Territory agreed on the respective roles o f relevant Northern Territory agencies and the Supervising Scientist. This agreement is referred to as the

‘working arrangements’.

Negotiations have taken place during the year with the Northern Territory Government with a view to reaching agreement on streamlined working arrangements aimed at maximising consultation and collaboration while minimising duplication. The Commonwealth's responsibility for protecting the ARR environment, and the interests of the traditional owners, have been primary considerations in this process.

The purpose o f the working arrangements is to establish procedures for consultation between the Supervising Scientist and NTDME (which will act on behalf of all Northern Territory authorities responsible for environmental aspects of mining in the ARR) to ensure that:

• each party can carry out its responsibilities with maximum efficiency and minimum duplication;

• technical aspects of proposed research and monitoring programs are examined and comments exchanged;

• where practical and appropriate, NTDME and the Supervising Scientist will consult and have regard to the views of each other prior to granting an approval or taking any related action in connection with the environmental aspects o f uranium mining;

• wherever possible authorisations are approved in time to avoid delays in mining operations; and

• the main interested parties, including the Northern Land Council, are kept informed via effective consultative and reporting procedures.

The revised working arrangements are being designed to reflect the Supervising Scientist's new emphasis on environmental outcomes instead of day-to-day management o f mine-site environmental controls. The primary mechanism to be used by the Supervising Scientist to assess the impact of uranium mining on the ARR

environment is regular review o f the environmental performance of the mining operations. These reviews are to be conducted jointly with the NTDME. Whrle the OSS will no longer perform frequent site inspections, inspection will be undertaken in association with the environmental performance reviews, inspections to investigate

reported incidents, and responses to invitations by the companies. NTDME, as the regulatory authority, will continue to undertake routine site inspections and will promptly provide reports of these inspections to the Supervising Scientist. The frequency and design of the site inspections and of NTDME's program of check

17

monitoring are subject to discussion between OSS and NTDME to ensure that the flow of information will meet the Commonwealth's requirements.

Other aspects to be addressed by the working arrangements include respective responsibilities relating to the Alligator Rivers Region Advisory and Technical Committees, and reporting of information on environmental monitoring and research activities.

R e p o rtin g o f m in e e v e n ts a n d m o n ito rin g re s u lts

The requirements on the mine operators to report events to the Supervising Scientist which may or may not result in an environmental infringement or technical divergence, are being addressed as part of the development of the new working arrangements. NTDME will require the mining companies to directly and immediately notify the

Supervising Scientist and the Department o f Primary Industries and Energy (DPIE) of any significant environmental events or incidents that have the potential to:

• cause adverse impact on the environment surrounding the mine; • cause harm to people living or working in the area; or • cause concern to traditional owners or the broader public.

Initial notification of these incidents will be provided by telephone or facsimile as soon as possible after the event and will be followed by a written report from the mining company outlining the nature of the event/incident and any response action taken.

2.3.4 R eview o f environm ental requirem ents — Ranger m ine

The Commonwealth environmental requirements (ERs) were constructed from findings and recommendations of the environmental impact assessment conducted by the RUEI, and entailed extensive discussion with the uranium mining companies and the Northern Land Council. In the case o f Ranger, the ERs were further refined

during Commonwealth-Northern Land Council negotiations over an agreement mider s.44 of the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976.

The ERs are also attached to the [UM(EC) Act] and in addressing proposals from the company and defining appropriate standards, practices, procedures and measures, NTDME and the Supervising Scientist are expected to ensure their effective implementation. However, knowledge accumulated over the thirteen years of operation at Ranger indicates that several o f the ERs do not accurately reflect the environmental conditions experienced at the mine and the types of potential impacts which could occur. Exploratory discussions took place during the year with the Northern Land Council, NTDME, ERA and DPIE which resolved that the ERs will be reviewed in 1994-95 to more closely reflect the actual operational performance and

environmental risks o f the Ranger mine site. OSS will lead this process, which will involve extensive consultation with the parties mentioned.

2.3.5 R eview o f m ech a n ism s for con su ltation and information ex ch a n g e

There are several mechanisms which have been important for exchange of information and discussion of technical issues in the past. Their exact scope and responsibilities are to be reviewed in the fight of the changed arrangements. Some may need to be

18

maintained to ensure adequate opportunity for thorough technical discussion on specific issues, and to facilitate recommendations flowing from the EPR process (see Section 2.3.2), and from the new Advisory and Technical Committees (see Section 2.3.1). These mechanisms include the Ranger Periodic Surveillance Committee, the Nabarlek Decommissioning Working Group, and the Ranger Rehabilitation Technical

Working Group.

The Ranger Periodic Surveillance Committee normally meets twice a year. It is chaired by NTDME and comprises representatives of OSS, ERA and the Northern Land Council, and considers technical aspects relating to:

• practices, procedures and measures for the management, storage and disposal of water and tailings;

• performance of the approved water and tailings management systems and structures;

• environmental monitoring programs and reports, and the environmental impact of mining operations; and

• applications for Ranger General Authorisation alterations or approvals, where practicable within the required time-frame for action.

The Nabarlek Decommissioning Working Group is chaired by QMPL with members from NTDME, the Northern Land Council and OSS. It has met as required - at least annually.

The Ranger Rehabilitation Technical Working Group is chaired by NTDME and comprises OSS, ERA, the Northern Land Council, the Australian Nature Conservation Agency and the Conservation Commission of the Northern Territory. The group has four subcommittees that meet as required and cover: erosion; re-vegetation; water quality; and radiation. Bearing in mind that the current authority to mine issued under s.41 of the Atomic Energy Act 1953 requires that rehabilitation

is to commence in the year 2000, the objective of the technical working group is to devise and agree standards and measures for the Ranger area, by January 1998.

19

REVIEW OF RESEARCH PRIORITIES _______________________________ 3

O b jectives o f the research review

• Identify, taking into account a reduced budget, the nature o f research needed as a basis for maintaining a satisfactory level of environmental protection in the Alligator Rivers Region.

• Recommend research priorities for the Environmental Research Institute o f the Supervising Scientist, in terms o f their importance to environment protection. • Survey the research that has already been carried out on the effects of uranium mining on the environment o f the ARR .

3.1 Review of environment protection research

Following the Commonwealth Government's decision on the future o f the Office of the Supervising Scientist and the subsequent changes to the EP(ARR) Act in December 1993, the environment minister commissioned a consultancy in January 1994 to review current Commonwealth environment protection research needs in the

Alligator Rivers Region. The principal terms of reference of the review were as shown above (objectives).

The review team consisted of:

Dr Jim Barrow, retired chief research scientist in CSIRO, Dr Kath Bowmer, Deputy Chief o f the CSIRO Division o f Water Resources, and Mr Des Davy, retired general manager scientific of the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation.

In carrying out its task, the review team interviewed all major parties with an interest in uranium mining in the Alligator Rivers Region and its impact on the environment. The consultants also took into account a number of key documents provided by the minister, documents supplied by those interviewed and a detailed submission to the

review provided by the research institute itself.

The structure o f the research program prior to the review is shown in the box below. The conclusions o f the review with respect to the principal research subdivisions is summarised in the remainder of this chapter.

21

R esearch program s

Baseline research: to document relevant physical, chemical and

biological characteristics of the environment of the Alligator Rivers Region unaffected by contemporary mining.

Operational phase research: to develop methods to protect the environment, the public and mine workers from the effects of

operating mines to a level that is consistent with the application o f best practicable technology.

Rehabilitation research: to develop procedures that will enable the restoration of decommissioned mine sites to standards that meet agreed objectives.

Techniques research: to develop necessary techniques, methods and practices for research into, or monitoring of, the effects o f mining on the environment.

3.1.1 B aselin e research

The review recognised that the resources allocated to projects in this program are small. Nevertheless, with respect to the maintenance of a herbarium collection for the ARR, it recommended that field excursions from a Darwin base should be considered for the herbarium, with continued co-operation and input by the research institute to

the collection.

3.1.2 Operational p h a se research

Control of water release to protect ecosystems

The review recognised the need for the development of a rapid toxicity test and for the continuation o f work on reference chemicals. However it gave relatively low priority to these projects and recommended that work on the development of a

sediment toxicity test and on extending the availability o f the fish test throughout the year be discontinued. The consultants recommended the transfer o f resources to biological monitoring.

Biological monitoring

The review gave strong support to the biological monitoring subprogram of the institute and recommended that the section be strengthened both by the transfer of resources from aquatic toxicology and by the appointment of a senior scientist. It also recommended that the research institute not only develop a suitable monitoring program but that it should conduct the program.

Cumulative effects of water release

The projects in this subprogram, including the proposed new project on the dynamics o f key elements of the biota of the seasonal wetlands, were supported by the review.

22

E ffe c ts o f w a te r re le a s e o n h u m a n s

The three projects proposed by the research institute in its submission were supported by the review.

Im p a c t o f la n d a p p lic a tio n o f w a s te w a te r s

Four projects in this subprogram were proposed by the research institute in its submission. They include work on remobilisation of radionuclides in runoff; resuspension of radionuclides in dust; rates of radon emission from soils; and the development o f radiological standards for land application. Some o f these projects were not considered in the review report. These projects will be considered by the new Alligator Rivers Region Technical Committee established under the amended legislation (see Section 2.3.1).

A tm o s p h e ric d is p e rs io n

The three projects in this subprogram proposed by the research institute received support in the review report.

3.1.3 Rehabilitation research

S ta b ility o f r e h a b ilita te d s tru c tu re s

The review was favourably impressed by both the content and the presentation of this subprogram. The report did not address the specific recommendations of the research institute submission on future work on each of the current projects, nor did it comment on the development o f the proposed program beyond the current phase into topics such as the nature of the products of weathering and erosion that will be transferred off-site. However, the report states that all of the projects are well planned

and focus on important topics. In view of these comments, it is assumed that the current five-year plan on the stability o f structures is supported by the review.

R e v e g e ta tio n

Of all of the subprograms of the research institute, that on revegetation was the most heavily analysed and criticised. The review questioned the institute's role in revegetation research and concluded that it should carry out some research in this field primarily to ensure the credibility o f conclusions reached with respect to the

extent to which government objectives can be achieved. It also concluded, however, that if the current lack of co-operation between ERA and the research institute on revegetation research cannot be overcome, the program should be allocated a very low priority because ‘there is a very low probability that the results will be used-.

F ate o f e ro s io n p ro d u c ts

The research institute proposed that three projects be continued in this subprogram. They included studies on the impact on aquatic animals and on humans arising from a possible future dispersion of tailings, and impact on aquatic animals arising from runoff from rehabilitated sites. The tailings studies were proposed in the context of

23

ER292 which allows alternatives to pit disposal of tailings to be considered. The review concluded that these projects should not proceed because, in its view, problems arising from tailings dispersal can be estimated from our current knowledge o f the constituents o f tailings and from an assessment of the impact arising from the previous dispersal o f tailings in the region.

D is p e rs io n o f c o n ta m in a n ts in g ro u n d w a te r

In this subprogram the research institute proposed continuation of projects on the use of radium and sulfur isotopes as indicators of seepage from the tailings dam and on the assessment o f ecological impact arising from the dispersion o f solutes in groundwater. The first of these topics was not considered by the review but one of its

components is nearing completion and the second component has received external support from, for example, ERA. The future o f this work will be assessed by the Alligator Rivers Region Technical Committee. The review did not support the continuation o f the project on ecological impact arising from the dispersion of solutes in groundwater because, in its view, chemical analyses can provide an adequate assessment of toxicity.

3.1.4 T ech n iq u es research

The fourth program of research at the institute is the development of specialised techniques applicable to environment protection in the Alligator Rivers Region. It has been necessary to develop these techniques because of the demanding nature of some

of the research problems and monitoring requirements in the region. Research in this program has always been determined by the needs of projects in baseline, operational phase and rehabilitation phase programs and cannot be planned in a logically structured manner (i.e. with long-term broad objectives) far in advance. For this

reason the research institute did not propose future projects for assessment by the review. The report of the review commented that it did not support the inclusion of technique development as a separate research area and that the demands for such work should be directly costed to the primary program areas.

3.1.5 Future d irection s for the research institute

The report of the review was considered by the Supervising Scientist along with responses to the review from the research institute itself; the former Supervisory and Assessment Branch o f OSS; and ERA. Taking into account the legislative changes

2Ranger Environmental Requirement (ER) 29: (a) Subject to paragraph (b) of this clause, all tailings shall be dealt with by being deposited in or transferred to the mine pits in a manner approved by the Supervising Authority not later than five (5) years after the cessation of mining (whether under this Authority or otherwise in accordance with

law) on the Ranger Project Area. (b) If after 10 years from the date of issue of the Authority, but before the cessation of mining on the Ranger Project Area, the Supervising Scientist reports that he is satisfied that, by dealing with the tailings in the manner outlined in the report, the environment will be no less well protected than by depositing or transferring the tailings to the mine pits and, following receipt of such report, the Minister for Environment, Housing and Community Development, the Council and the Joint

Venturers agree that the tailings should be dealt with in the manner outlined in the report, all tailings shall be dealt with in the manner outlined in the report.

24

that have occurred, and the reduced budget o f the research institute, the Supervising Scientist has decided that future research at the institute will be in two primary programs:

• research into environment protection from the impact of mining, particularly uranium mining, and

• research into the environment protection o f the wetlands of Northern

Australia, especially those in Kakadu National Park.

In particular, taking into account the changes in the expectations o f the community and government that have taken place during the past ten years with respect to the research that mining companies themselves should carry out, the Supervising Scientist

has decided that research on the revegetation of mine sites will no longer be carried out by the institute. Such research will in future be carried out by the mining companies but the Supervising Scientist will maintain a watching brief and will commission specific studies, if necessary, to ensure that the standards for revegetation that are deduced from the companies' research are credible in the eyes o f the

community.

The revised research program in the two primary program areas will be developed during 1994-95 and will be submitted to the Alligator Rivers Region Technical Committee for its assessment and advice. As mentioned in Chapter 2, to better reflect its new focus on environmental research, the name of the research institute has been

changed to the Environmental Research Institute of the Supervising Scientist (ERISS) (see Chapter 5).

25

■

ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENTS _____________________________ 4

O bjective o f environm ental a s s e s s m e n t s

Provide assurance to the Commonwealth and to the Australian public of the adequacy of environmental protection in the Alligator Rivers Region from the effects of uranium mining.

4.1 Introduction

The Office o f the Supervising Scientist assessed the adequacy of environmental protection and the level of environmental impact from uranium mining in the Alligator Rivers Region by the following means.

• Assessment o f reports and plans produced by the mine operators

- Ranger Mine Amended Plan of Rehabilitation No. 19 - Ranger Mine Water Management System Operation - Ranger Mine Water Management System Manual - Ranger Mine Water Management Strategies - November 1993

- Ranger Mine Annual Environmental Report - Nabarlek Annual Environmental Report - Revised design for the Decommissioned Nabarlek Pit — August 1994 - Ranger Mine Annual Radiation Report

• Evaluation o f applications by the mining companies to vary authorisations, and provision o f technical advice to the regulators relevant to the applications.

• Participation in technical discussion forums including:

- Ranger Periodic Surveillance Committee (8-12-93) - Nabarlek Periodic Surveillance Committee (9-12-93) - Nabarlek Decommissioning Working Group (18-11-93) - Technical review meeting on Ranger water management (13-4-94)

• Conducting environmental performance reviews (EPRs) of the Ranger and Nabarlek mine sites.

Significant issues dealt with or arising from these activities are discussed in the relevant sections below.

27

Figure 4.1 Vertical aerial photograph of the Ranger mine site showing the effect of central tailings deposition in the tailings dam and development of waste rock dumps between the tailings dam and the pit (photo by AIReSEARCH Mapping Pty Ltd, 30.6.93)

4.2 Ranger mine

The main features of the mine site and its water management system are shown in Figures 4.1 and 4.2. In 1993-94 operations at Ranger continued in the campaign style begun in 1992, with mining taking place from June to December and milling taking place through the Wet season from late January until late May. What is

expected to be the final mining campaign in No 1 pit began in early June 1994. The economic resources o f this orebody are expected to be completely extracted by early December 1994. After this time ore for milling will be sourced from stockpiles while the next resource is developed. Ore reserves held by ERA are presented in Table 4.1. On-site manufacture o f sulfuric acid ceased in 1992 and there is currently no sulfur stockpile at Ranger. Manufacture of sulfuric acid will recommence in December 1994. Mine and mill production statistics are presented in Table 4.2.

28

Arnhem -Hwy

G S8210009

Airstrip

'Coonjimba Billabong Environmental Research Institute of the Supervising Scientist

1000 m

Spillway Land application

Djalkmara Billabong

| ..., /

• 79/6A ...

RN23560 J y ·

/N o . 3

/ Orebody

>8/1·

S eepage collector sump

• RN23552 • 15 > ] #11A

16 • 10A

Tailings dam

Mine Bore L irrigation

RP = Retention pond

W aste rock dump · Observation bore j Restricted release zone Wetland filter

F ig u re 4 .2 R a n g e r m in e -s ite lo c a tio n m a p

In June 1994 ERA announced its intention to convert the No. 1 pit (Figure 4.3) to a tailings repository. A drainage system will be installed at the base o f the pit to assist dewatering o f the tailings which will, in turn, result in improved consolidation of the tailings in the pit. This strategy is aimed at maximising the amount o f material that can

be stored in the pit as well as substantially reducing the amount o f water that will flow through the tailings after mining has finished. Water recovered from the drainage system will be pumped to the tailings dam to be evaporated. The pit preparation work is planned to start in the Dry season o f 1995 and may be completed in 1996.

ERA has continued to undertake drilling to define the exploitable resource at Jabiluka (North Ranger), with the intention of developing Ranger ore body No. 3 and the Jabiluka No. 2 deposits in parallel, subject to government and Aboriginal approvals in respect o f Jabiluka and to further evaluation work. At the completion o f mining o f the

Ranger No. 1 orebody, the remaining ore stockpile will last about seven years at the current rate o f milling or about four years if year-round milling were to recommence.

29

T a b le 4 .1 R a n g e r : o re re s e r v e s a n d m in e ra l re s o u r c e s , J u n e 1 9 9 4

Ore

( million tonnes) % u3o8

Contained

U30 8 (tonnes)

Ranger No. 1 ore body a t 0 .2 % U30 8 c u t-o ff grade

Ore stockpiles 4 .7 2 4 0.31 14 700

Proved, in pit 1.695 0.35 5 9 0 0

Total ore 6 .4 1 9 0.32 2 0 6 0 0

Ranger No. 3 ore body at 0 .1 2 % U30 8 c u t-o ff grade

Total ore 17.486 0.32 55 300

North Ranger ore body at 0 .2 0 % U30 8 c u t-o ff grade

Total ore 19.5 3 2 0.46 90 4 0 0

Source: Energy Resources of Australia Ltd

T a b le 4 . 2 R a n g e r: m in e a n d m ill p ro d u c tio n

1 9 9 3 -9 4 Total to June 1 994

M aterial mined 1million tonnes)

Ore 0 .7 1 2 17.142

Below cut-off grade (0.2% ) 1.771 44 .4 2 1 *

W aste 0 .9 8 0 ‘

Total 3.4 6 3 6 1 .5 1 4

Material milled 0 .4 3 7 11.7 2 4

U3Og production (tonnes) 1462 36 323

M ajor reagent consumption

Pyrolusite (oxidising agent) 2 9 7 5 t (4.18 kg/t of ore treated)

Sulfuric acid 2 1 6 1 0 t (30.35 kg/t of ore treated)

Neutralant (magnesium oxide) 7 1 6 5 t (10.06 kg/t of ore treated)

Ammonia 873 t (0.6 kg/kg U30 8 )

Amine 4 4 6 90 L (0.031 L/kg U30 8)

Diluent (shellsol) 552 4 0 0 L (0.38 L/kg U30 8)

* Cumulative total of w a ste and below cut-off grade Source: Energy Resources of Australia Ltd

4.2.1 A p p lications and alterations

ERA operates under the Ranger General Authorisation A82/3 (which is the legal instrument) and Northern Territory law governing Ranger operations. The company must lodge an application for any variation it wishes to make to the authorisation. During the reporting period ERA made several applications to vary the Ranger General Authorisation. These applications are listed in Table 4.3, together with approvals. NTDME issued a directive (21 June 1994) to ERA to conduct research on a constructed wetland filter in the catchment of retention pond RP1. The research program had not commenced by the end of June, but is planned for the Dry season

during the latter half o f 1994.

30

T a b le 4 . 3 A p p lic a tio n s a n d a p p r o v a ls fo r v a ria tio n to t h e R a n g e r G e n e r a l

A u th o r is a tio n ( R G A )

A p p lic a tio n s A pprovals

A u g u s t 1993 — permit the disposal by flood irrigation of the outflow from Mine Bore 'L' in either one of tw o areas, each about 8 ha in extent.

Decem ber 1993 — construct a floating rainfall interception collector on the tailings dam. OSS requested the integrity of the system in isolating rainwater from tailings

liquor be evaluated by water testing prior to any operation which would allow release of water from the device into the environment.

December 1993 — operate an experimental wetland filter in the RP1 catchment using rainfall-runoff from the very low-grade stockpiles. OSS suggested modifications to the proposed experimental procedures,

including limits for solutes discharging into RP1.

December 1993 — release of RP4 water via the spillway. OSS suggested that the release could go ahead provided that biological testing of the waters was carried

out.

February 1994 — application to change the monitoring program such that during a water release from RP4 or RP1 monitoring of Magela Creek water quality is required weekly rather than daily.

February 1994 ERA — alter the freeboard in the tailings dam. OSS proposed a minor alteration to the method of calculating the freeboard.

M ay 1994 — undertake a wetland filter experiment in the RP1 catchment using water pumped from RP2. OSS recommended control conditions that were aimed to protect the water quality of RP1.

Septem ber 1993 — Alteration 62 to the RGA

January 1994 — an interceptor was built and operated during the Wet season. No releases were made from the tailings dam

Not approved

January 1994 — with the requirement for pre-release assessment of water dilution rates through biological testing and the existing water chemistry measures.

February 1994 — Alteration 63 to the RGA.

July 1994 — the RGA was amended to include the new freeboard height.

June 1994 — ERA is required to return water from the filter area to the RRZ as soon as possible after the trial. Approval was also given for a temporary RRZ to encompass the wetland filter area.

RP Retention pond; RRZ Restricted release zone

4.2.2 T ech n ical d iv e rg en ce s from the Ranger General Authorisation

There were three technical divergences from 1 July 1993 to 30 June 1994. None resulted in an observed environmental impact.

21 October 1993

Failure of a component in the tailings dam sprinkler system, used to minimise dust generation, resulted in wind blown spray drifting over the dam embankment outside

31

the restricted release zone (RRZ) boundary. The drift resulted from coincidental high winds from the NNW at the time o f the failure. The quantity o f water was small and the area was cleaned up within two days. An evaluation o f the likely radiological

effect suggested that there was no radiological impact beyond natural background. The sprinkler system was repaired and has functioned correctly since the incident.

13 April 1994

About 60 cubic metres o f combined rainfall-runoff water and seepage from the high- grade ore stockpile discharged outside the RRZ following a pipe joint failure. The pipe ran alongside the drain downstream o f the RRZ boundary at the bund in the high- grade ore stockpile drain. Samples taken along the flow path showed an increase in uranium concentration in Georgetown Creek but no change in uranium concentration could be detected in Georgetown Billabong. The pipe has since been relocated wholly inside the RRZ.

10 May 1994

About 50 cubic metres o f RP2 water was accidentally discharged outside the RRZ during the installation of a new section o f pipe at the RP2 pumping station. The pipe was part of the network that serves the irrigation area. The incident caused no measurable environmental impact.

F ig u re 4 .3 V ie w lo o k in g o v e r R a n g e r m in e pit in O c to b e r 1 9 9 3 s h o w in g m in in g

n e a rin g c o m p le tio n a n d th e h ig h -g r a d e o re s to c k p ile o n t h e s k y lin e

32

4.2.3 Environm ental perform ance

Ranger EPR

OSS, in conjunction with NTDME, undertook an EPR at Ranger for the period 1 January 1994 to 30 June 1994. The review took place on 11-12 July 1994. The review team comprised Mr B Carbon, the Supervising Scientist; Mr S Needham from OSS; and Mr RA McGill and Mr R Watters from NTDME. Technical experts from

each organisation were also on hand to provide specialised advice. The review assessed the environmental performance of the operation during the review period, and the management systems in place to minimise future environmental impact.

Staff from ERA addressed an extensive questionnaire prepared by OSS (see Section 2.3.2) designed to elicit specific information on the company's general environmental performance over the previous six months, including:

• compliance with legislation; • specific areas of environmental and public health monitoring; • monitoring strategies to identify and quantify potential impacts; • water management and production strategies to minimise the probability of an

impact; and

• research activities.

The statements made by the company were validated through an operations inspection plus an inspection of company reports, policies and personnel position descriptions.

The review process involved the following stages:

• opening discussion on philosophy and format of the review process; • addressing the questions listed in the EPR document; • mine-site inspection; and • sighting o f documents for verification of statements.

The review team prepared responses to the questionnaire, assessed those responses, and prepared a preliminary report for the Alligator Rivers Region Advisory Committee meeting held on 15 July. A final report will be presented to the next meeting o f the Advisory Committee.

The review team concluded that the environmental management procedures of ERA are well documented. Overall, mine management and environmental protection procedures meet and often exceed the requirements and expectations of the regulators and OSS. No adverse environmental effects were identified within the reporting

period. Radiological exposures were well within limits.

Some minor areas were identified where improvement in procedures and practices could be undertaken to further raise the standard of environmental management, including:

• further development o f the groundwater model to define recharge/discharge areas (ERA has already commenced research in this area)·, • updating of the estimate of radiological emissions (ERA has already

commenced research in this area); and • improvement of the documentation of waste disposal procedures.

33

In addition, although the long-term trend of increasing sulfate and magnesium values in retention pond RP1 has reversed during the last Wet season owing to flushing by high rainfall, this increasing trend is likely to resume in the long term. The review team therefore recommended a study o f the possible long-term effects o f inputs from

RP1 on Magela Creek water quality, including the development of a management plan if required. Salt efflorescence has been observed on soil surfaces in the land application area (see below). OSS and ERA studies have found no significant impact but the long-term effects o f continued irrigation need to be investigated.

Uncertainty surrounds the use of some terms relevant to categorising and reporting environmental information. OSS and NTDME agreed to work together to clarify the definition of the terms: technical divergence; and unacceptable impact.

OSS and NTDME also agreed to work together to clarify the role of biological monitoring in providing assurance on the levels of environmental protection. Present regulations concentrate on chemical monitoring.

There was good co-operation and openness on the part of the company in the review process, and the standard o f environmental performance is assessed as having met or exceeded the required standards. Those areas identified as requiring further work are consistent with the intent of the environmental review process to encourage continual

improvement, where possible, in the level o f environmental management and protection.

4.2.4 Water m an agem en t sy stem

The main elements o f the Ranger water management system are shown in Figures 4.1 and 4.2. Rainfall during the 1993-94 Wet season was 1606 millimetres, which was above the average rainfall of 1450 millimetres, and resulted in increased rainfall-runoff volumes to all retention ponds. The impact of this rainfall is most noticeable in RP1, where 1360 megalitres o f water discharged over the spillway compared with 450 megalitres in the previous Wet season. As a consequence, the general water quality of the pond improved (Figure 4.4) whilst uranium concentrations continued to range around 0.6 micrograms per litre.

This above average rainfall also resulted in approximately 2000 megalitres of runoff collected within retention pond RP2 and the mine pit. Campaign mining and milling allowed water to be stored within the pit until June, when the 1994 mining program was due to commence. The transfer of about 900 megalitres of pit water to RP2 from April 1994 to the end o f the reporting period increased the concentration of uranium within RP2 from around 400 micrograms per litre to about 1500 micrograms per litre (Figure 4.5). During the same period, uranium concentrations in RP4 increased from about 50 to about 350 micrograms per litre (Figure 4.6). These variations typify the historical seasonal variations and operational procedures with these retention ponds. Procedures were begun to dispose of the excess water during the 1994 Dry season. In addition to using the existing 35 hectare irrigation area, ERA irrigated wastewaters on to the low-grade ore stockpile, and on roads and lawns within the project area to increase the rate of water disposal.

34

600

3 E

_ro

1

500

4 0 0

©

5 300

3 = 200

■ 5 ■ g

o O

100

• *

8 8 89 9 0 91

• Conductivity

• Sulfate

92 9 3 9 4 95

Year

F ig u re 4 . 4 G e n e r a l w a t e r q u a lity p a r a m e t e r s fo r R P 1 s h o w in g t h e c y c lic a l p a tte r n

im p o s e d b y t h e W e t - D r y s e a s o n a l c h a n g e s a n d th e re d u c e d c o n d u c tiv ity a n d s u lfa te

c o n c e n tr a tio n s a f t e r t h e 1 9 9 3 - 9 4 W e t s e a s o n

8 0 0 0

Έ ?) 6000

2 . 4 0 0 0

ra 3 E .5 2000

0

8 8 8 9 9 0 91 9 2 9 3 9 4 9 5

Year

F ig u re 4 . 5 U r a n iu m a n d s u lfa te c o n c e n tra tio n s in R P 2 s h o w in g g e n e r a l d e c lin e in

u ra n iu m c o n c e n tra tio n s

Land application area

The land application area (LAA) is an integral component o f the water management system for the Ranger mine, normally being the only option for water disposal from the RRZ.

At the end o f the 1993 Dry season, white efflorescence was noted in several locations within and around the LAA (Figure 4.7). Studies showed that magnesium sulfate in solution was being transported to the land surface through capillary rise, where-upon

35

2 0 0 0

• S u lfa te

1 5 0 0

• U ra n iu m

1 0 0 0

.·· ·

E 5 0 0

F ig u re 4 . 6 U r a n iu m a n d s u lfa te c o n c e n tra tio n s in R P 4 s h o w in g c y c lic a l p e a k s a n d

g e n e r a l in c r e a s e s o v e r tim e d u e to in c r e a s e d v o lu m e s o f w a s te ro c k in t h e c a tc h m e n t

the water evaporated to precipitate hydrated magnesium sulfate. Investigations by ERISS suggested no radiological concern and no likely impact to Magela Creek. However, studies on the long-term impact on vegetation from salt and/or water

logging effects were inconclusive. ERA undertook water/salt balance studies of the site to improve the management of water application. The results o f this study had not been received by OSS by the end of the reporting period.

Capacity of the water management system

The Ranger operation is a net accumulator o f water. ERA water management strategies aim to minimise water collection within the RRZ and effectively utilise all procedures that are environmentally acceptable for the disposal of surplus waters. At the time o f commencement of mining, direct release of wastewaters to Magela Creek was envisaged as the major mechanism for disposal of surplus waters. Because of social factors, no such releases have occurred and the principal water disposal mechanism is irrigation on to a 35 hectare woodland area beside Magela Creek. The Commonwealth has stated it would consider approval of direct release only when the Wet season rainfall exceeded the 1-in-10 year level. Recently the reduced production under the six-month milling/six-month mining cycle has increased water retention because less water is transferred to the tailings dam in tailings slurry. This has reduced the capacity of the water management system to cope with above average Wet seasons.

The above average rainfall o f the 1993-94 Wet season has led to the accumulation of a relatively high volume o f water in the retention ponds, which the present irrigation system may be unable to dispose of before the onset of the next Wet season. The appearance this year o f salt efflorescence on soil surfaces in the LAA raises the question of the capacity of the area to receive water without deleterious environmental impacts in the long term

36

F ig u re 4 . 7 P a r t o f th e R a n g e r irrig a tio n

a r e a in S e p t e m b e r 1 9 9 3 s h o w in g w h ite e ff lo r e s c e n c e

( m a g n e s iu m s u lfa te ) o n th e g ro u n d s u r fa c e

Subsequent to the reporting period ERA has addressed the problem of surplus waters by applying for approval to increase both the size o f area irrigated and the rate of irrigation. The Commonwealth Government needs to ensure that the risks to the environment posed by wastewater irrigation remain acceptable and will examine water

disposal particularly at the next EPR in November. A thematic EPR questionnaire will be designed to focus on water disposal strategies.

Monitoring of the water mangement system

The condition o f Magela Creek is monitored by a program of water chemistry measurements carried out by ERA and NTDME. To provide assurance to the public on the condition of the wider environment of the Kakadu World Heritage Area beyond the Ranger mine, the OSS is developing a monitoring system based on natural

stream communities. This monitoring system will be used to assess whether the ecological integrity of Magela Creek and its flood plain is being maintained. Once the biological measures for assessing ecological integrity have been developed, this monitoring system may also be operated by NTDME and ERA.

37

Biological standards have already been used as part of the regulatory regime for the Ranger mine. In the immediate past Wet season, the minimum dilution for waters released from RP4 (which is not within the RRZ) was required to be the most

conservative value obtained using both chemical and biological criteria. The procedure for the biologically-based minimum dilution was recommended by OSS and comprised using one-tenth of the geometric mean of the lowest observed effects concentration (LOEC) and the no observed effects concentration (NOEC) from a number of approved toxicity tests.

The OSS is collaborating with NTDME and ERA in a re-examination of the Ranger water management system monitoring. An approach based on catchments, and management of water according to its quality rather than origin, is being evaluated.

4.2.5 R adiological ex p o su re to e m p lo y e e s and the public

The Ranger operation is a source of radiological exposure to both its employees and also to the public residing in the area. Employees may be subdivided into two major groups: designated employees who have the potential for radiation doses above

5 millisieverts (mSv) per year; and non-designated employees who are exposed to a lesser degree. The average dose to designated employees from the Ranger operation was 4 mSv in 1993, with the maximum exposed individual receiving a dose of 9.8 mSv. These exposures are well within the Australian limit of 50 mSv and are below the limit of 20 mSv per year recommended by the international Commission of Radiological Protection in 1990. The maximum dose to non-designated employees from the Ranger operation was 1.7 mSv in 1993, which is below the 5 mSv per year limit for this group o f employees.

The largest residential site for members of the public is the township of Jabiru, located approximately 7 kilometres west of the mine site. ERA has calculated the radiation dose from the Ranger operation to be 0.03 mSv per year for adults and 0.04 mSv per year for children. This estimate is based on radon and radon daughter measurements from 1989 to 1993 and agrees with independent estimates conducted by OSS. Some members of the public have day work at Jabiru East, which is closer to the mine, and the OSS estimate of dose to this group is 0.04 mSv per year. At present, there is no permanent habitation by the traditional owners closer than Jabiru and estimates of exposure to downstream Aboriginals at Mudginberri Billabong are lower than for Jabiru residents. The exposure to members o f the public is below the 1 mSv annual limit and is also well within the natural variation in radiation background.

4.3 Nabarlek mine

The Nabarlek mine site remained in a ‘mothballed’ state throughout the year, with civil works for site decommissioning due to commence in 1995. The permanent site staff continued to be the site supervisor and a handy person. Regular environmental monitoring, in excess o f that required by the Nabarlek Consolidated Authorisation, was carried out under contract.

38

The main elements of the water management system are shown in Figures 4.8 and 4.9. Rainfall during the 1993-94 Wet season was 1278 millimetres, which was below the average rainfall o f 1399 millimetres, and resulted in reduced rainfall-runoff volumes to the water management system. The objective in 1993-94 has been to minimise water

contained within the pit and the stockpile runoff pond, via irrigation around the pit and on the old stockpile pad. No overflow occurred from evaporation pond EP2 due to the below average rainfall. To reduce the amount o f water in EP2 prior to the dry season the company pumped, with approval, approximately 100 megalitres from EP2

into silt trap ST4 between 21 March and 23 April 1994. No environmental impact was observed as a consequence of this action. Figure 4.10 shows the pit nearly dry in November 1993.

4.3.1 D evelop m en ts

Preparations for the sale of the Nabarlek processing plant continued with advertisements and calls for tender being placed in the print media around Australia and in the international mining press.

4.3.2 A p p lication s and alterations

Two applications to vary the Nabarlek Consolidated Authorisation were made during the reporting period (see Table 4.4).

T a b le 4 . 4 A p p lic a tio n s a n d a p p r o v a ls f o r v a ria tio n to t h e N a b a r le k C o n s o lid a te d

A u th o r is a tio n ( N C A )

Applications Approvals

3 0 Decem ber 19 93 — QMPL applied to vary parts of the NCA to incorporate the agreed water management strategy and decommissioning plans as part of the NCA.

Some editorial changes were also recommended.

3 February 1994 — OSS supported the changes which were authorised by the NT minister as Alteration 32.

18 M arch 1994 — QMPL applied to discharge water from EP2 by pumping because insufficient rainfall had occurred to produce overflow.

OSS was in agreement with the proposal which was approved by the NT Minister. Pumping began on 27 March 1994.

39

F ig u re 4 .8 V ie w o f th e N a b a r le k m in e s ite lo o k in g n o rth . R e h a b ilita tio n w ill in v o lv e p la c in g u n s o ld m ill

c o m p o n e n ts a n d p o n d e m b a r k m e n ts in th e pit u n d e r a c a p p in g o f t h e w a s te ro c k s to re d in th e f o r e g ro u n d .

Gauging Station 8211079 Camp

Forest irrigation area 500 m

SP22 ·,

Gauging Station 8210024 • SP30 Trap 2

Sift X Buffalo

Trap 6 · T ra p 5

Plant Runoff Pond

X \ J Silt Trap

EP Evaporation pond

SPROP Stockpile Runoff Pond

| | Breach in dam wall

• Monitoring bore (OB = Observation bore, SP = standpipe)

[ 1 Controlled release area

[ Irrigation area

\ Mine\

• · T ) · OB48 OB17

• RN20478

F ig u re 4 .9 N a b a r le k m in e -s ite lo c a tio n m a p

F ig u re 4 . 1 0 V ie w lo o k in g n o rth w e s t o v e r N a b a r le k ta ilin g s p it in N o v e m b e r 1 9 9 3

s h o w in g ta ilin g s s u r fa c e w ith ro c k c o v e r a n d m a te ria l s c ra p e d fro m th e flo o r o f th e

p o n d s a t th e f a r e n d . P a r t o f th e p e r im e t e r irrig a tio n s y s te m is in t h e fo re g ro u n d

4.3.3 Environmental perform ance

On 12 July 1994 OSS and NTDME conducted an EPR of the Nabarlek operation for the six months to 30 June 1994. The review team comprised Mr B Carbon, the Supervising Scientist; Mr S Needham o f OSS; and Mr RA McGill and Mr R Watters o f NTDME, supported by technical experts to provide specialised advice. The review assessed monitoring data to determine environmental performance during the review period, and evaluated likely future environmental impact based on the quahty of the

environmental management systems of QMPL.

The review process involved:

• discussion on philosophy and format of the review process;

• addressing the questions listed in the EPR document; and

• mine-site inspection. Some parts of the operation were not inspected (stockpile runoff pond and rubbish tip).

The review team compiled responses to the questionnaire (see Section 2.3.2), assessed those responses, and prepared a preliminary report for the Alligator Rivers Region Advisory Committee meeting held on 15 July. A final report will be presented to the next meeting o f the Advisory Committee.

Owing to time restrictions it was not possible to go through the review process in detail, and the review team was not able to examine documentation in support of the responses provided. The information given indicated that adequate environmental management procedures are in place.

42

Overall mine management and environmental protection procedures are considered to meet requirements; no incidents occurred and no adverse environmental effects were identified within the reporting period. Progress towards decommissioning and rehabilitation is proceeding according to approved plans.

Some minor areas were identified and the review team has requested that these be addressed by QMPL over the next few months, including:

• the distribution of the decommissioning plan amongst a number o f reports may lead to uncertainty as to the completeness and currency of its documentation. It is recommended that this issue is addressed, for example through a brief covering document with a complete listing o f the titles and dates o f the latest versions of the documentation; and

• the criteria for relinquishing responsibility for the site after rehabilitation should be defined, through discussions with the company, NTDME and the Northern Land Council.

Groundwater quality in the forest irrigation area improved, except for pH which remained acid. However, the review team recommended that monitoring of groundwater quality should continue until the trend to improvement is confirmed because o f its implications for Gadjarrigamamda Creek. The current state o f health of

Gadjarrigamamda Creek is not clear, as there have been no recent biological surveys. It is recommended that a biological survey is carried out next Wet season.

In general, the standard of environmental performance was assessed as having met the required standards. Those areas recommended for attention will help to ensure that acceptable measures are in place for the rehabilitation phase of the project.

4.3.4 D eco m m issio n in g and rehabilitation

The decommissioning of the Nabarlek mine is an important stage in the long-term protection o f the environment about the mine site. Decommissioning will begin in the Dry season o f 1995 and will comprise a civil work program o f plant dismantling and earth moving to remove the mill complex, evaporation ponds and most of the ancillary

infrastructure. Arisings will be placed in the pit, capped with waste rock, and revegetated. In the lead-up to decommissioning OSS is examining a number of matters that relate to the effectiveness o f environmental remediation and worker safety during the rehabilitation process. These include:

• a procedure for decontamination of the equipment to be removed; • alternative water management strategies in case o f extreme rainfall; • a detailed program for rehabilitation of the forest irrigation area, and the acceptance of this program by the Northern Land Council;

• post-decommissioning environmental monitoring; • fertiliser application rates and fertiliser mix; • the method for determining the success o f the revegetation program; and • confirmation of radiological exposure to members o f following rehabilitation.

43

4.3.5 Groundwater quality

Monitoring data from bores SP22 and SP29 in the forest irrigation area indicate some improvement in groundwater quality, with a decrease in the quantity o f dissolved solutes as measured by electrical conductivity (less than 1000 microseimens per centimetre) and with pH steady at around 4 units. Variations in water quality in most other areas around the mine site (as measured by electrical conductivity and pH) were similar to the previous year. For example, observation bores OB2D, 3D and 4D, downstream of the evaporation ponds, showed conductivity values ranging from

170-1550 microseimens per centimetre. The areal extent of groundwater affected by the mining activity is expected to increase for some years as the salts disperse down gradient.

4.4 Jabiluka (North Ranger) and Koongarra

Work on the Jabiluka lease continued throughout the Dry season. The program concentrated on drilling to prove up the ore body. As work came to an end for the Wet, drill pads were rehabilitated whilst access roads had erosion control works installed. ERA is continuing the feasibility study and preparation o f a draft mine plan for the development of the resources of Jabiluka. There is no timetable, as yet, for the announcement o f the plan.

There was no change in the status of the Koongarra uranium mining project. There is no permanent presence on site.

4.5 Exploration

Three exploration operations continued throughout the 1993 Dry season. Figure 4.11 shows lease locations.

• QMPL drilled on its exploration licence area EL 2508 during the 1993 Dry season. The program included both rotary air blast and diamond core drilling. Inspections of drill sites showed that cleaning up was satisfactory and no long­ term environmental detriment was expected. In June 1994 drilling resumed, with deepening o f one existing hole in the lease area. In mid-1994 QMPL received permission to drill within the boundaries o f SML 94, the Nabarlek mine lease. This work is expected to end in early December 1994.

• PNC Exploration (Australia) Pty Ltd continued its field operations during the 1993 Dry season with gridding and geophysical studies on EL 3597. Site inspections by OSS revealed no environmental concerns. The company intends to carry out further gridding and geophysical programs in parts o f ELs 3597

and 4015 during the Dry season o f 1994.

• ERA continued to prove up the Jabiluka (North Ranger) deposit through the 1993 and 1994 Dry seasons. Drill pads used in 1993 were rehabilitated at the end of the drilling season.

44

/ Goomadeer

Cooper _

' \ I

<_ SI

Nabarlek

Jabiluka

Ranger Project

Jabiru

EL4015

f Mt Brockman PNC lease f

EL = .Exploration licence :::

Escarpment area shaded

"Koongarra

F ig u r e 4 .1 1 M a p o f t h e m in e a r e a s a n d e x p lo ra tio n lic e n c e s (E L s )

45

____________________________________ 5

RESEARCH IN THE ALLIGATOR RIVERS REGION

O b jectives o f research

Undertake scientific research to improve the understanding o f the Alligator Rivers Region environment, the actual and potential impacts upon it from uranium mining activities, and ways in which those impacts may be avoided or managed.

5.1 Introduction

The Alligator Rivers Region Research Institute (ARRRI) was established by the Environment Protection (Alligator Rivers Region) Act 1978. It is headed by the Director, Dr Arthur Johnston, who co-ordinates and directs the research and support activities of the institute and who reports to the Supervising Scientist. Following the

amendments to the EP(ARR) Act in December 1993, the research institute was renamed the Environmental Research Institute of the Supervising Scientist (ERISS). The institute is based in Jabiru East, maintaining a laboratory complex near the Ranger mine site. Forty-five staff, including scientific, technical and administrative

officers, are currently employed at the institute.

The institute has research and research-associated functions in relation to the effects on the environment o f both uranium mining operations in the ARR and general mining operations in any conservation zone within the region. The 1993 amendment of the Act empowers the research institute to undertake, on a commercial basis, research on environmental matters for other parties.

The internal research capability of the institute is supplemented by consultancies and collaborative research projects with external organisations. Collaborative projects comprise a major part o f the external research work by the ERISS, and are currently

being undertaken with a number of scientific research organisations throughout Australia.

During most o f 1993-94, research undertaken to achieve the general objective took place in four streams. These are listed in the box shown in Section 3.1 along with the broad research objective associated with each stream. Subsequent to the review of

research described in Chapter 3 the research programs have been reorganised into two main streams: environmental impact o f mining; and wetland management (see Figure 2.1 and Section 3.1.5).

To ensure that the institute has the expertise to conduct this program, research groups have been established with expertise in aquatic toxicology, aquatic biology, plant ecology and physiology, environmental chemistry, environmental radioactivity and

47

geomorphology. The research projects carried out by these specialist groups are not constrained within disciplinary areas; many o f the projects, and those deriving from the use o f external consultancy or collaborative arrangements, are multidisciplinary and integrated into the overall research program.

5.2 Research highlights

The principal outcomes o f the ERISS research program are the research data and their interpretation in terms of the effects o f mining operations on the environment. These interpreted data may also be developed into recommendations to the Supervising Scientist on standards, practices, and procedures to be adopted in mining operations for the protection o f the environment and on measures for the restoration o f the environment.

Results of the research program are formally reported by the Supervising Scientist in three ways, namely:

• the ERISS Annual Research Summary,

• published papers and reports such as the Research Report and Technical Memoratidum series, as well as papers in national and international journals, papers in the published proceedings of conferences and workshops, contributions to monographs; and

• unpublished reports such as Open File Records and Internal Reports, and unpublished papers to conferences and workshops.

A consolidated list of all ERISS and OSS publications is now produced annually as an internal report. All 1993-94 publications, reports and conference presentations are listed in Appendix 4. There were 32 publications and 48 reports issued by ERISS and OSS during 1993-94.

Because of the scope and complexity o f the research program, a full description of outcomes is not appropriate here. Rather, a few research highlights are described, followed by a brief description o f progress on each of the projects that were active during 1993-94.

5.2.1 B iological m onitoring program s for aquatic e c o s y s te m s

The research subprogram on biological monitoring can be divided into projects designed to detect short-term effects arising from the dispersion o f mine-site waters, and those designed to detect long-term effects of mining operations generally. Assessment o f impact involves investigations o f natural populations and communities. Fish and benthic macroinvertebrates have been selected as appropriate indicator groups to serve this role for the Alligator Rivers Region.

The principal method being developed for the early detection o f short-term effects is creekside monitoring. A full description o f this monitoring procedure was provided in

48

the Supervising Scientist's 1992— 93 Annual Report. The following account describes progress in the development o f monitoring programs to assess impact o f mining using aquatic macroinvertebrate communities.

A five-year study o f benthic macroinvertebrate communities in the permanently- flowing section o f the South Alligator River has recently been completed. Analysis and write-up o f the data has been undertaken in collaboration with a CSfRO consultant. The data were intended to be used to develop a monitoring program to assess impact o f mining, should this proceed, at Coronation Hill. The basis o f the

study design was to compare samples gathered from control sites of the South Alligator River upstream of, and unaffected by, mining activity with similar data gathered from sites downstream (that in the event o f mining, could be exposed to mine wastewaters) both before and after possible impact.

Analysis o f data using statistical tests can be used to compare natural communities in disturbed and undisturbed areas and assess the confidence o f interpretation o f impacts. As discussed in the Supervising Scientists 1993-94 Annual Report, this type of analysis is a potentially valuable tool for regulators. Based on such data the

regulatory authority could require mining companies to implement monitoring programs designed to establish, with a specified level o f confidence, that their operations are not causing harm to the environment. This is in contrast to the normal procedure o f allowing mining to continue as long as evidence of impact is not

available, and would result in more assured protection o f the environment.

At the ERISS biological monitoring workshop held in Canberra in September 1993 (see Section 6.4), expert attendees highlighted some deficiencies in simple, single­ stream designs such as the study conducted in the South Alligator River (i.e. where control sites upstream are compared with sites downstream o f potential disturbance).

Thus, an outcome o f the meeting was the recommendation that such designs be expanded to incorporate similar data from adjacent, undisturbed (control) streams in the region. Data from these ‘independent’ streams would guard against the possibility, for example, that a change in communities at the ‘downstream’ site coincident with

the commencement of mining but brought about by factors unrelated to such operations (e.g. climatic) was not falsely attributed to mining impact. The major advantage in the extended design, however, particularly where information from sites disturbed by a similar pollutant-type was also available, would be in the ability to

assess the ecological relevance and significance o f any observed changes. Thus, questions such as where the disturbance of interest lies in relation to

undisturbed-disturbed streams from elsewhere; and whether the impact is ‘trivial’ (lying near or amongst the space o f undisturbed sites) or ‘severe’ (lying amongst those sites clearly polluted by similar types o f disturbance), can be addressed.

Similar development of a monitoring program using benthic macroinvertebrates has been under way in Magela Creek since 1990. The data derived from the sampling will be used to assess the impact o f mining at Ranger. In line with the biological monitoring workshop recommendations above, the design o f this project has now

been expanded to incorporate data from several control streams in the region.

49

5.2.2 E cological e ffe c ts arising from the u se o f h erb icid es to control Salvinia m o le sta in Kakadu National Park

Salvinia molesta, a floating exotic fern which is classified as a noxious weed, was first recorded in the Alligator Rivers Region in 1984 and has since become firmly established to the detriment of the natural ecosystems within Kakadu National Park. The initial strategy o f ANCA for control o f the weed involved the introduction o f the weevil, Cyrtobagous salviniae, in an attempt to achieve biological control. This strategy was not wholly successful and ANCA developed a consultancy project with CSIRO to investigate the reasons for this lack o f success and to make

recommendations on management options for control of salvinia.

Following a workshop to discuss progress on the CSIRO project, a proposal was developed to undertake an integrated management approach that would involve the use o f both biological and herbicidal control. It was agreed that CSIRO would coordinate spraying trials in Island Billabong in the Magela Creek system and relate the results obtained to those obtained in its study o f biological control. It was also agreed that a parallel study should be undertaken on the ecological effects on non­ target organisms that could arise as a result o f the use o f the herbicide. The herbicide chosen for these trials was AF100, which consists of a mixture o f kerosene and an anionic surfactant called Kemmat. The herbicide causes salvinia to lose buoyancy so that it sinks and dies.

As a result, ANCA commissioned ERISS to investigate the effects o f use o f the herbicide on non-target species o f animals and plants. The aims o f the study were:

(a) to measure the toxicity o f the surfactant in the herbicide to selected organisms;

(b) to trace the dispersal of the surfactant in Island Billabong; and

(c) to develop a model of the decomposition and resultant nutrient release of salvinia killed by the herbicide.

As a component of objective (a), ERISS also collected basic physicochemical water- quality data and assisted the CSIRO consultant to ANCA in evaluating the effect of AF100 spraying on non-target grasses and herbs associated with salvinia.

The herbicide was applied to plants in Island Billabong in two field trials. The dissolved oxygen and pH of the water were measured before and after spraying and there did not appear to be any significant effects. Toxicity tests using three plant species and three animal species with dilutions o f the herbicide did not indicate a

substantial hazard to plant or animal test organisms. It was, however, toxic at some level to all the animal species tested; hydra was the most sensitive species with a no observed effect concentration (NOEC) o f 0.63 milligrams per litre and lowest observed effect concentration (LOEC) o f 2.0 milligrams per litre.

The concentration and distribution o f herbicide in the billabong immediately after the January spraying was assessed in a comprehensive water sampling program. Immediately after spraying, the maximum concentration detected in the water was 0.1 milligrams per litre. On the basis o f the toxicity data reported above, this concentration did not present a significant ecological hazard. These analyses provide

50

some confidence that herbicide concentrations in the billabong during spraying did not reach levels that would be hazardous to non-target organisms.

Nutrient enrichment from decaying salvinia could cause further water quality problems but the flushing of the billabong by Wet season floodwater soon after spraying is expected to minimise the risk o f this occurring. The nutrients flushed from the billabong would not present a problem elsewhere on the floodplain as during the

Wet season far greater quantities o f nutrients are continually cycled through the natural processes o f primary and secondary production.

Based on the experimental analyses the following recommendations have been made concerning any future spraying o f salvinia with AF100 herbicide:

• dissolved oxygen levels should be m onitored before, dining and after spraying;

• results of the laboratory toxicity tests should be confirmed with water

collected from the billabong when the concentration of herbicide is expected to be at its peak;

• spraying should be conducted immediately prior to the expected start of regular rainfall that will flush the billabong of any residual herbicide or excess nutrients released from the decomposing plant material; and

• salvinia decomposition and nutrient release models should be verified with data collected before, during and after spraying.

5.2.3 In vestigation s o f s e e p a g e from th e Ranger tailings dam

At many sites near the north wall of the R anger tailings dam, elevated concentrations of solutes have been observed in groundwater. Although the solute load is dominated by magnesium sulfate, many bores also show increased activity o f radionuclides such as radium. These solutes are derived mainly from three sources;

• leaching from waste rock, which forms the external surface o f the dam wall; • seepage from the tailings; and • interactions with aquifer rocks in the immediate vicinity o f the bores.

However, the proportion from each source has not been definitively identified. The issue o f the source o f the solutes is im portant for two reasons. First, the source of radium in bores needs to be identified so that estimates can be made o f concentrations

in the long term. Second, ERA is required to return to the tailings dam as much seepage as can be collected by the use o f best practicable technology. If the elevated concentrations of solutes observed in collectors are not significantly attributable to seepage, it could be argued that return o f w aters from these collectors is not required.

Radium isotopes in groundwater

The environmental implications of tailings-dam seepage are illustrated by the pattern of radium concentrations in groundwater. Figure 5.1(a) shows data for sulfate and the radium isotope 226Ra from observation bore OB 11 A, a bore for which degradation in water quality has been observed during the past decade. The 226Ra concentration in this bore has increased about fivefold since 1983 and its origin has been investigated using isotope ratio techniques.

51

228Ra and 226Ra are members of different decay chains (232Th and 238U decay chains respectively) and their activity ratio varies considerably in nature. For bores in the Ranger project area unaffected by seepage the 228Ra/226Ra ratio is generally between 0.2 and 2.0, whereas in tailings dam water it is approximately 0.03. Consequently, if the 226Ra concentration increases in OBI 1A were due to direct transport of radium

from the tailings dam, the 228Ra/226Ra ratio would have been expected to decrease with time. In fact, this ratio increased by a factor of about three between 1985 and 1993, as shown in Figure 5.1(b), demonstrating that the source is not direct transport. Rather, increases in radium isotope concentrations are a result o f increases in dissolved mineral salts leading to desorption o f radium from adsorption sites in the vicinity of the bore. That is, there is no significant direct transport o f radium from the

dam in seepage.

Sulfur isotopes in groundwater

Measurement o f the sulfur-isotope ratio offers a means of determining the source of solutes in groundwater near the tailings dam. This technique is attractive because the isotope composition of the sulfate present in groundwater is highly dependent on its source.

The conventional measure for sulfur-isotope composition is the parameter d34S. This is the quotient 34S/32S, expressed in parts per thousand, and normalised to the presumed primordial isotope ratio, as inferred from the composition of a meteoritic source. Using this measure, waste-rock sources of sulfate (from the oxidation of sulfide minerals) have a mean value for 334S o f about 3 parts per thousand while sulfate from a tailings source has a value o f about 18 parts per thousand, due to the sulfuric acid used as a mill reagent. Representative values for d34S for samples from the Ranger mine site are shown in Figure 5.2.

The method was applied to a determination of the source of sulfate in water from the Ranger north-wall seepage collector for the year May 1992-April 1993. The source was found to be highly seasonally dependent. A base flow o f about 3 megalitres per month had a value o f d34S near 18.7 parts per thousand. This strongly suggests a tailings source. During the Wet season the base flow is supplemented by sulfate-rich water from another source. The value o f d34S declines proportionally with increase in flow volume, reaching a minimum of 6.5 parts per thousand. This suggests that the tailings-derived base flow is diluted with infiltration water containing waste-rock derived sulfate during the Wet season. On an annual basis, about 8 % o f the volume of water pumped from the north-wall seepage collector was tailings derived. This contained approximately 45% o f the solute load in the collector.

The method was also applied to water from the deep observation bores near to the tailings dam. Many o f these bores contain elevated concentrations o f solutes, again dominated by magnesium sulfate. The range of values measured for 334S for sulfate from these bores was 20.3-24.6 parts per thousand. These results strongly imply elevated sulfate concentrations in groundwaters near the tailings dam originate from the tailings dam, in contrast to elevated radium concentrations which apparently

originate from sites outside the tailings dam.

52

(a) 250

3000

2500 CT \

σ>

2 0 0 0 E

1500

1000

500

0

D

CO

F ig u r e 5 .1 V a r ia tio n w ith tim e o f ( a ) s u lfa te a n d 226R a c o n c e n tra tio n s ; a n d

( b ) ^ s R a / ^ R a ra tio fo r w a t e r c o lle c te d fro m b o re O B 1 1 A a t R a n g e r

5.3 Project progress reports

Herbarium collection of the ARR

Around 500 specimens were added to the herbarium in 1993-94. The collection now has over 5400 specimens with an overall representation of 79 per cent o f the known flora of the region. The checklist o f vascular plants for the region currently stands at 1881 species. This species compliment represents about 6 6 per cent o f the known

flora of the Arnhem botanical province (the 'top end' north o f 15°S) within which the

53

S a m p le

F ig u r e 5 .2 R e p r e s e n t a tiv e s u lfu r is o to p e ra tio s (S 34 S v a lu e s ) fo r s a m p le s fro m th e

R a n g e r le a s e a r e a

Alligator Rivers Region is situated. The extraordinary concentration of plant life in the ARR is further highlighted given that the ARR encompasses only 11.5 per cent of the area o f the Arnhem botanical province.

Toxicity testing of retention pond waters

Retention pond RP4 water was collected on 21 February 1994 and tested with the Hydra viridissima population growth toxicity test. RP2 water was collected on 7 March 1994 and tested with the Moinodaphnia macleayi survival toxicity test and Hydra viridissima population growth toxicity test. For RP4 water, no detrimental

effects were observed even at the highest concentration (100 per cent RP4 water) tested. The LOEC and NOEC for RP2 water were 32 per cent and 10 per cent respectively using H. viridissima population growth rate as the endpoint.

Benthic macroinvertebrate communities of the upper South Alligator River

Routine sampling o f benthic macroinvertebrate communities from 8 sites in the permanently-flowing section o f the South Alligator River commenced in October 1987. Samples were collected at bi-monthly intervals until October 1989. Thereafter, sampling was reduced such that the sites were sampled twice-yearly, namely during the early Dry (April-May) and late Dry (October) seasons. Five years of samples have

54

been processed and part o f the species-level data written up. Because o f changed priorities following the Commonwealth Government's decision not to permit mining at Coronation Hill, samples collected since 1992 have been stored with very little sorting. Further sampling is proposed as part of the Commonwealth Government's

Monitoring River Health Initiative. These data together with those gathered since 1987 will be used to test the assumption of temporal constancy of invertebrate communities — that is the basis for developing predictive models of community structure for stream water quality monitoring and management.

C re e k s id e b io lo g ic a l m o n ito rin g

Creekside biological monitoring is used for the early detection o f effects on aquatic ecosystems arising from mining activities. Organisms are held in containers positioned on the creek bank and water is pumped through the containers from sites in Magela Creek that are upstream and downstream from the Ranger site. Sensitivity to the

waste o f concern and timeliness o f the response (i.e detection before irreversible damage has occurred) are essential attributes for selection o f test organisms. Viable tests have been developed for two species of freshwater snail, Amerianna cumingii and A. carinata (using as the main criterion, reproduction), and two species o f fish, Mogurnda mogurnda and Melanotaenia nigrans (using larval mortality and growth). A test using population growth o f a Hydra species is under development. During the

1994 Wet season, creekside trials on snails and fishes continued to provide baseline data for the detection of significant impacts.

S tru c tu re o f b e n th ic m a c r o in v e r te b ra te c o m m u n itie s

Sampling o f benthic macroinvertebrate communities from sites in Magela Creek has been conducted annually, in the early-Dry season when major flow has subsided, since 1988. One recommendation o f the ER1SS biological monitoring workshop, held in Canberra in September 1993, was the recommendation that the current design o f this

project be expanded to incorporate data from several control streams in the region. Data would consist of measures of difference (community dissimilarity measures) between pairs o f sites in several 'independent' streams. This recommendation was implemented during the early Dry season o f 1994. Sampling has been conducted at 2

or 3 sites in each o f Magela, Gulungul, Cooper, Baroalba, Barramundie and Nourlangie Creeks. At each site, three habitats have been sampled: (i) sand, (ii) vegetated stream edges or riffles and (iii) backwater pools with macrophyte growth.

S tru c tu re o f f i s h c o m m u n itie s in lo w la n d b illa b o n g s

In this project the structure o f fish communities in lowland billabongs o f Magela Creek is studied in order to develop a procedure for detecting longer-term effects of mining on fish. Following a review o f this project in 1993, a new experimental design, which included the use of pop-nets for sampling, was introduced in 1994. An

important feature of the new design is the inclusion of sites on Nourlangie Creek as controls for the Magela Creek system. Sampling is to be carried out once each year in the early-Dry season (Figure 5.3). Adverse effects upon fish communities arising from mining activity should be detectable using statistical analysis of samples at a number

of sites.

55

F ig u re 5 .3 P o p - n e t te c h n iq u e b e in g u s e d to s a m p le fish p o p u la tio n s in a M a g e la

C r e e k b illa b o n g c o n ta in in g d e n s e a q u a tic v e g e ta tio n

Biological monitoring using fish migration in Magela Creek

The aim of this project is to develop methods for the detection of effects o f mining on recruitment of fish to upstream refuges o f Magela Creek using observations of the patterns of fish migration both within and amongst seasons. Data have been collected from a single site at Ranger during the late Wet and early Dry seasons from 1985 to the present. A collaborative study with a Canadian specialist in biometrics commenced

in 1994 to analyse this dataset using time-series procedures. Predictive associations between numbers o f migrating fish and stream hydrology are being sought that might lead to a procedure for detecting future adverse effects of mining. During the 1993-94 Wet season, migration data were also obtained from Nourlangie Creek in order to evaluate the possibility of using this system as a control for migration in Magela Creek.

Radiation exposure from the transport of dust from mine sites

Atmospheric dispersion o f radionuclides in dust particles that have been suspended from a mine site can lead to radiation exposure o f people at substantial distances (several kilometres) from the site. Current research will determine reliable estimates for dust resuspension factors that are appropriate for mining and milling operations in

the Alligator Rivers Region. During 1993-94, research effort was directed at reducing uncertainties due to differences in relative activity concentrations o f radionuclides in soil and dust particles and the activity size distribution between dust from natural and

disturbed sources. Samples were collected from twelve natural and disturbed sites in the vicinity of the Ranger mine site. After sieving to separate grain size fractions, samples are being analysed for radionuclide concentrations by gamma-ray

spectrometry. Analysis of samples is almost complete.

56

A tm o s p h e r ic c o n c e n tra tio n s o f u n a tta c h e d ra d o n p ro g e n y

Radon progeny, the short-lived decay products o f radon, are radioactive and increase the risk of lung cancer if inhaled. Radon progeny readily attach to particles in the air and the cancer risk is dependent on whether the progeny are attached and, if so, on the size o f the particle. This project has been designed to provide firm estimates o f the

mine-related radon progeny activity size distribution for worker and public dose estimates. An extensive set o f data collected at Jabiru East has been analysed. The results demonstrate that below-average values o f the ultrafine fraction occur during the Dry season in the early morning. This finding is important because the mine- related radon progeny concentrations are higher during this period. The project has

been extended to enable measurements to be made of activity size distributions in several particle size groups using a five-stage diffusion battery. This work is planned for 1994— 95.

H y d r o g e o m o r p h ic a u d it o f th e m in e le a s e a re a s in th e A R R

In a collaborative project with the Northern Territory University, the research institute is using a geographic information system (GIS) to collate all available information on the hydrogeomorphology o f mine sites in the ARR. This will allow the development

of hazard maps for each mine site that can be used to assess the likely impacts of mining on the environment and the risks associated with these impacts. A conference (NARGIS 93; see Section 6.3) was organised in August 1993 in Darwin with the aim of networking GIS and remote sensing (RS) workers in the Northern Territory and

promoting the work of ERISS in these areas. The conference was followed by a workshop at ERISS at which three international experts assisted in developing strategies for the use of GIS and RS in ERISS. A final report on the current phase of the Northern Territory University project is due in September 1994, at which time the

future o f this project will be reassessed.

E v a lu a tio n o f re h a b ilita tio n s tr a te g ie s b y m o n ito rin g o f e x p e r im e n ta l p lo ts

Monitoring o f erosion and hydrology on experimental plots at Ranger and other sites is required to provide part of the data needed to calibrate models that can predict the performance o f engineered landforms over very long periods o f time. During the 1993-94 Wet season, the monitoring program continued on large plots (600 square

metres) at Ranger and at Tin Camp Creek, the long-term analogue site. Summary reports o f the data were prepared and analysis of the data to determine model parameters will continue during 1994-95.

S im u la tio n o f in te r-rill a n d rill p ro c e s s e s o n w a s te ro c k d u m p s

The response of engineered landforms to erosive processes needs to be modelled over long periods of time. Monitoring experiments, however, can only provide information on the response to those events that occur during the short-term monitoring program. For this reason, a series of experiments has been conducted using rainfall and

concentrated flow simulation techniques that represent the response o f the landforms to low probability events. During 1993-94, the final series o f simulation experiments was completed on ripped plots at Ranger, at Tin Camp Creek (Figure 5.4), and on

large plots at Ranger. Analysis of the data is proceeding.

57

M o d e llin g o f th e g e o m o rp h ic s ta b ility o f re h a b ilita tio n s tru c tu re s

In collaboration with the University o f Newcastle a model is being developed and calibrated that will be used to predict the rates of discharge of particulate and soluble materials from the rehabilitated Ranger site, identify the locations where greatest erosion will take place, and provide estimates o f the extent of erosion over a period of

1000 years. This model will then be available as a design tool to optimise the design of the rehabilitated site. During 1993-94 the project continued into its second stage in which an operational model will be delivered.

B io lo g y o f n a tiv e p la n ts in th e A R R

To judge compliance with revegetation objectives for mine sites in the ARR, adequate information is needed. Research is therefore required on the identification of plant species; determination o f their density and abundance; and the phenology, seed storage and seed germination characteristics of local native plants. Quantitative descriptions of natural plant communities have been obtained at a number of sites in the region. At each site, data on species richness and density were collected for the

full range of plant life forms. The flowering and fruiting periods o f native plants were also determined at these sites. Seeds from a wide range of native plants were collected for use in subsequent experimental studies on seed germination, symbiotic association o f native plants and plant-soil interactions studies. In collaboration with the CSIRO Tree Seed Centre and the University o f Western Australia, experiments were carried out to test seed germination in response to various pre-germination treatments.

C h a ra c te ris a tio n o f m in e s p o ils fo r p la n t g ro w th fa c to rs

The aim of this project is to assess, on the basis of observed physical and chemical characteristics o f mine soils and the mineral composition o f native plants, the suitability o f individual plant species for incorporation in revegetation programs at

F ig u re 5 .4 R a in fa ll s im u la tio n e x p e r im e n t a t T in C a m p C r e e k to s tu d y ru n o ff a n d

e ro s io n u n d e r c o n tro lle d c o n d itio n s

58

ARR mine sites. Samples representing top soils and subsurface soils (up to 100 centimetres depth) were collected from Ranger, Nabarlek and Coronation Hill and from adjacent natural sites. The samples were analysed for various chemical and physical characteristics. The data show marked differences between mine spoils and natural soils in their pH, electrical conductivity, phosphorous, nitrogen and

exchangeable ions. The implications o f these differences on establishing local native plant species on the mine spoils are being assessed. Youngest fully expanded leaves of trees and shrubs, or all leaves o f herbs and grasses, were collected from vegetation survey sites and other natural habitats differing in soil fertility/type. These samples are being analysed for plant nutrients and other elements.

S y m b io tic m ic r o o r g a n is m s a s s o c ia te d w ith n a tiv e p la n ts

Mycorrhizal fungi are known to assist plants in the uptake of nutrients and water. Mine spoils are usually characterised by drought stress, unbalanced nutrient concentrations, and low diversity and activity of mycorrhizal fungi. This collaborative project with the University of Western Australia was developed to examine the

association of native plants with mycorrhizal fungi and to isolate pure strains of mycorrhizal fungi that could be used in mine-site revegetation programs. Approximately 60 pure strains o f endomycorrhizal fungi and five strains of ectomycorrhizal fungi have been isolated from soils, root materials and fruit bodies

collected from various parts o f the ARR. These strains will be made available to mining companies following testing for their adaptability to mine spoil conditions. Bait plants suitable for multiplication o f endomycorrhizal fungi were identified. The results indicate that longer than four weeks of solarisation is needed to sterilise the soil,

species such as Aristida holathera will be suitable for increasing spore production, and the species Desmodium fdiform e is best for increasing mycorrhizal propagules in the soil.

In te ra c tio n s b e tw e e n p la n ts a n d s o ils

A number o f experiments are being conducted on the interactions between plants and soils that could be important in determining the success of revegetation programs at mine sites. These include an evaluation of various indigenous grass species for use as surface stabilisers, an investigation o f the role of calcium-magnesium imbalance on the growth o f native plants on mine spoils, and the effects of magnesium sulfate on the

emergence o f native species on mine spoils. Results obtained in 1993-94 suggest that most native grasses perform equally well on mine spoils with or without added gypsum. This contrasts with Rhodes grass which requires gypsum to achieve its

maximum yield. In the calcium-magnesium imbalance experiment, the growth rate of native plants was found to improve when calcium was added to reduce the imbalance but only when fertiliser was added; without fertiliser, most species failed to grow well. Nitrogen was found to be the most limiting element in Ranger mine spoil. In the

experiment on the effects o f magnesium sulfate on the emergence of native plants, preliminary analysis shows large variations between species; some species show a very high germination tolerance to magnesium sulfate while for others germination was

reduced at low concentrations. The implications o f these results on ecosystem development on Ranger mine spoil will be investigated further.

59

In te ra c tio n s b e tw e e n p la n ts a n d m ic r o o rg a n is m s

Over 600 strains o f rhizobia from several host species are being screened in a collaborative project with CSIRO to select strains that perform best on each o f the selected hosts, as well as adapt well to mine spoil conditions. About 200 strains are also being characterised using molecular techniques to examine the effect of soil type, host-strain interactions and habitat conditions on persistence o f introduced strains

over wild strains. These studies are continuing.

T h e ro le o f a n ts in m in e -s ite re s to ra tio n

Ecosystem restoration not only involves establishment of vegetation, but also includes return of fauna. While the assessment for success of vegetation establishment is relatively easy, the evaluation for the return o f fauna is complicated. The use o f ants as bioindicators has been proposed to evaluate the return o f fauna. This collaborative project with CSIRO was developed to test how the number and density of ants

correlate with other invertebrate fauna (such as foliage arthropods, soil invertebrates) and the degree o f disturbance. Ants and other invertebrate fauna have been collected from about 40 sites that represent various degrees of disturbance. The number and diversity of fauna at each site will be assessed to test if ants can act as bioindicators of disturbance (success o f restoration). This project is approaching completion.

5.4 Animal experimentation ethics

An Animal Experimentation Ethics Committee was established by the Supervising Scientist in 1991 to assess procedures used by ERISS in any research project involving experimentation on non-human vertebrates. The committee considers research projects and standard protocols for toxicity testing using non-human vertebrates.

No new projects involving experimentation that includes the use o f non-human vertebrates (other than those using standard approved protocols) were proposed in 1993-94.

The Commonwealth Government requires that all projects using modified 50 per cent lethal concentration (LC50) tests on vertebrates be approved annually. ERISS has developed a procedure for the biological testing of wastewater using embryo gudgeon (Mogurnda mogurnda) and the use o f this test was approved by the Acting

Supervising Scientist in 1993.

5.5 Personnel and administrative matters

5.5.1 C on sultancy se r v ic e s

ERISS does not seek to appoint, on a permanent basis, scientists with expertise in all aspects o f its research program. Rather, experts in specific fields are employed, as consultants to supplement competence within the institute.

60

The decision to seek consultancy services is made when either:

• the expertise needed to undertake a particular project is not within the

competence o f current ER1SS staff, or

• in-house resources are insufficient to undertake a high priority, but short-term, project.

Consultancies are usually collaborative projects; that is, ERISS scientific staff and the consultant undertake the project jointly. Generally, consultants are identified and appointed without recourse to a tender process. In most cases the number of individuals within Australia with the appropriate expertise to meet the project requirements is limited and these few are known to ERISS senior management.

Selection o f the most suitable consultant is made following recommendation by the project leader, assessment by the Director and approval by the Supervising Scientist. Sometimes the detailed formulation of a program of work will, itself, be developed

under a consultancy with an expert organisation which wifi recommend appropriate experts to carry out the program.

This approach is cost effective because the consultant is invariably a person with a specific research interest in the problem at hand and usually the salary of the principal investigator is not included in the consultancy fee. The only expenditure then incurred by the Commonwealth is additional costs to the consultant's parent institution for new

equipment (which remains the property o f the Commonwealth), travelling expenses and the salaries o f temporary assistants.

ERISS commenced four new collaborative consultancy projects during 1993-94. However, seven projects continued from the previous year. A full list of consultancies that were operative in 1993-94 is given in Appendix 5.

5 . 5 . 2 W o r k e x p e r i e n c e a n d t r a i n i n g a t E R IS S

ERISS has operated a tertiary education work experience scheme over the last few years. It includes work experience for recent graduates in their specialist fields and vocational training for undergraduates for whom such training is a component of their degree course. During 1993-94, nine undergraduates and graduates benefited from

the operation o f this scheme. The ERISS research program was greatly assisted by the contribution made by these trainees. ERISS also provided work experience during the year for three secondary school students.

The research institute continued to provide placement for one Aboriginal trainee laboratory assistant under the Training for Aboriginals Program administered by the Department of Employment, Education and Training, and for two apprentices through the Northern Territory Department of Labour and Administrative Services. One

apprentice is being trained as a fitter and machinist, the other as an electronics technician. In addition, the institute again participated in the Australian Traineeship Scheme with the placement of one administrative trainee.

Four non-salaried persons provided assistance to OSS research staff during the year. These activities were coordinated by the Australian Trust for Conservation Volunteers, a non-profit organisation which is based in Victoria, but active

61

throughout Australia. The young people involved were seeking experience in areas of applied conservation and assisted the biological monitoring, rehabilitation and environmental radioactivity programs.

5.5.3 S ch o la rsh ip s

ERISS has a program offering honours and masters degree students scholarships to the value of $2000 to undertake relevant and appropriate research projects. During 1993-94, three students were awarded scholarships to undertake the following projects.

• The role o f calcium-magnesium imbalance on the growth and physiology of selected native tree and shrub species grown on the Ranger mine spoil. (G Atkinson, Australian National University)

• The development o f procedures for detecting mining impact using the migration o f chequered rainbow fish. (J Davies, University o f New England)

• The effect of magnesium sulfate on germination/emergence o f a selection of plant species native to Kakadu National Park and its environs.

(J Malden, University of Western Australia)

The students spend approximately seventeen weeks in Jabiru to undertake the necessary field work and prepare reports summarising their methods and results. The selection of projects for these studies was based on OSS information needs and on the specific interests o f each student. Copies of the resulting theses are to be provided to the Supervising Scientist on completion and will be issued as Open File Records (see

Section 5.2). The scheme is a successful cost-effective way for the ERISS to carry out some of its research projects.

5.5.4 Library

The ERISS library continued to provide an efficient, effective library service to staff at all locations during the 1993-94 financial year. During most of this period the library was staffed by one full-time librarian and one half-time library assistant. However, in May 1994 the library assistant position was abolished.

During November and December 1994 the library was moved to a new building, where the improved facilities are much appreciated by all staff. The library continued to provide an effective reference service to staff, including access to national and international databases via database hosts such as Dialog, Orbit and Australia. Efficiency in the provision of inter-library loans was improved when the library began issuing requests electronically using the Australian Bibliographic Network Inter­ Library Loans Module.

The library added 350 new book and non-print items to the collection, and a further 65 references were added to the Alligator Rivers Region Information database. Due to budget cuts the number of subscriptions was reduced from 160 to 90, saving approximately $4000.

62

5.6 Investigations undertaken by the Office of the Supervising Scientist

In support o f its function of assessing the adequacy o f environmental protection, and the pursuit o f on-going improvements in environmental performance, OSS conducts reviews of topics to establish Australian or world best practice in activities relevant to the uranium mining operations in the A R R Reviews undertaken in 1993-94 included:

• methods o f uranium mill tailings disposal;

• revegetation techniques in the tropics;

• acidity and salinity tolerance o f vegetation;

• environmental performance o f the Ranger mine compared with the predictions of the Ranger Uranium Environmental Inquiry in 1977.

5.6.1 Uranium mill tailings d isp o sa l

A review o f worldwide practice for disposal of uranium mill tailings was undertaken as part of the preparations for the likely need to carry out assessment o f ERA’s proposals for using No. 1 pit as a tailings repository. The information was also compiled to be ready for an anticipated application by ERA for permanent in situ

above-grade tailings containment as described in environmental requirement ER29 (b) (see Section 3.1.3). The review collected data from both literature searches and direct inquiries o f uranium mining companies and regulators around the world with respect to both past and current practices. The final document will be published in the OSS

Technical Memorandum series (see Section 5.2).

5.6.2 R evegetation te ch n iq u e s in the tropics

A review o f revegetation techniques in the tropics was carried out by staff of OSS and ERISS to draw together data which could be applied to assessment o f the rehabilitation work due to begin shortly at Nabarlek, as well as ongoing progressive rehabilitation at Ranger. The review covered all aspects of revegetation, from ground preparation through seed selection and harvesting, to seeding and establishment techniques. The review will be published in the OSS Technical Memorandum series.

5.6.3 A cidity and salinity toleran ce o f v egetation

The review of the pH and salinity tolerance o f vegetation in the ARR was compiled to assist in the evaluation o f possible long term effects o f the land application of mine wastewaters. The study found little published data but did enable predictions to be made o f species suitable for use in revegetation of areas where salinity levels might

become elevated as a consequence o f wastewater accumulation o f weathering products o f waste rock. The document was published as OSS Internal Report No. 149.

63

5.6.4 Ranger m ine environm ental perform ance — p red iction s vs ex p erien ce

The review of the environmental performance at Ranger against the 1977 predictions o f the Ranger Uranium Environmental Inquiry enabled a comparison to be made of how well ERA’S environmental management program was performing against expectations. The outcome of the review is that performance is generally no worse than predictions and often better, in some cases quite significantly better. This review will be released as an OSS Internal Report.

64

CONFERENCES, SEMINARS AND WORKSHOPS __________________________________________6

O bjective

Maintain state-of-the-art knowledge in environmental science and research matters relevant to protection of the environment from the effects o f uranium mining, through: participation in, and organisation of, conferences, seminars and workshops.

Participation in conferences, seminars and workshops forms an integral part of the activities o f the staff of the Supervising Scientist, in order to maintain knowledge of the specialist technical fields appropriate to the research and assessment programs. OSS and ERISS also organise technical meetings on key topics o f direct interest to

environment protection in ARR to share knowledge with other leading researchers, to debate the merits o f different scientific methods, and to gain expert advice on the best directions for future research. During 1993-94 OSS/ERISS organised, or jointly organised, conferences and workshops on waste rock dumps, remote sensing and

geographic information systems, and biological monitoring. Some members of ERISS staff also attended conferences overseas (see Appendix 6 ).

6.1 Symposium on management and rehabilitation of waste rock dumps

As part of a review of its research into the rehabilitation o f uranium mines, a symposium was organised jointly with the Australian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy (AusIMM) on the Management and Rehabilitation o f Waste Rock Dumps. The symposium was held in Darwin in October 93 and more than 50 representatives

from government and industry attended. Several of the participants were from Southeast Asia. Fourteen papers were delivered in the two-day session. The symposium concluded on the second day with an afternoon visit to the Rum Jungle and Rum Jungle Creek South uranium mine rehabilitation sites.

The symposium themes were planning and economics, hydrology and erosion, geochemistry, biological issues and geotechnical aspects of management and rehabilitation of waste rock dumps. The symposium proceedings have been published.

65

6.2 North Australian Remote Sensing and Geographic Information Systems Forum

The North Australian Remote Sensing and Geographic Information Systems Forum was held at Darwin in August 1993 (NARGIS 93). The forum was organised by ERISS and OSS and supported by the Australasian Urban and Regional Information Systems Association (AURISA), the Conservation Commission of the Northern Territory (CCNT), the Northern Territory University, the Australian Centre for Remote Sensing and the Australian Institute of Cartographers. The 95 registrants comprised representatives from industry, Commonwealth and State governments, CSDR.0 and universities, and included representatives from the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. Presentations included 37 papers, posters, and demonstrations of remote sensing and geographic information systems software and hardware. Four themes were pursued, on resource assessment, environmental modelling, information

systems as management tools, and resources monitoring and management. The proceedings were published jointly by OSS and AURISA (as AURISA Monograph No. 8 ).

Keynote speakers included Professor Peter Burrough, Professor Tony Milne, Dr Dennis Puniard and Dr Andrew Skidmore. The opening address was presented by Professor Don Watts, Chairman o f the Australian Space Council.

The forum brought together practitioners in GIS and RS and those whose research and practice is largely concerned with northern Australia. It was the first such meeting organised for northern Australia and facilitated contact between ERISS/OSS staff and experts in the GIS and RS. A number of collaborative projects were proposed and some have already commenced.

6.3 Alligator Rivers Region Geographic Information System Workshop

The Alligator Rivers Region Geographic Information Systems Workshop was held at ERISS in August 1993 to provide a forum to review previous work in GIS and RS and develop a strategy for future research. The workshop was led by Dr Steven Riley while issue-specific sessions were led by Professor Peter Burrough, Professor Tony Milne and Dr Andrew Skidmore. Representatives from the Environmental Resource Information Network (ERIN), CCNT, ANCA, the National Resource Information Centre and the mining industry were invited to attend and participate in the review process.

The workshop developed a strategy for developing research in areas specific to the objective of ERISS. Key recommendations related to the need for a low-level aerial multispectral remote sensing capability, expansion in staff and facilities of the GIS laboratory, and confirmation o f the research directed towards integrating biophysical models into the GIS environment. A proceedings volume from the workshop is being prepared for publication.

66

6.4 ERISS Biological Monitoring Program Workshop

ERISS has been developing biological monitoring techniques for assessing the impact of water releases from mine sites in the ARR. Sampling strategies in streams have been investigated for creekside early-warning monitoring and an intensive effort has been directed towards developing macroinvertebrate and fish sampling with replication in time and space. Progress with this innovative program was reviewed at a workshop in Canberra.

The one-day workshop (24 September 1993) followed a larger symposium by the University of Canberra in collaboration with the Cooperative Research Centre for Freshwater Ecology and the Land and Water Resources Research and Development Corporation. A summary o f the ERISS research program was presented to the workshop by staff and four papers on distinct aspects o f the program were presented by invited experts. These papers formed the basis of small group discussions.

The ERISS research program was well received and recognised as a template for other stream monitoring studies. Given the comprehensive coverage of the program and the large investment in resources, the participants requested that further issues of site selection and replication be addressed and the program extended. This extension

would answer further difficult questions that other research groups have not been able to address. The advances made by the ERISS staff were openly noted. The program received strong backing from the scientific experts who also encouraged ERISS to investigate other techniques.

6.5 Radon and radon progeny measurements in Australia

The Supervising Scientist and the Australian Radiation Protection Society sponsored a one day symposium on Radon and Radon Progeny Measurements in Australia. The symposium was held in Canberra on 18 February 1994, following the 3rd Annual Workshop of the South Pacific Environmental Radioactivity Association, and

attended by 30 experts from Australia and New Zealand. The proceedings o f the symposium are being prepared for publication.

In Australia, many organisations are involved in radon and radon progeny studies. The objective of the symposium was to bring together scientists from these organisations to present their findings and discuss an Australia-wide scene of radon and short-lived

radon progeny measurements.

The ubiquitous nature of radon in the atmosphere leads to human exposure to radon isotopes and their short-lived progeny in several different situations. For this reason, the subject matter presented at the symposium covered radon and radon progeny measurements in a variety o f places o f human occupancy such as in and around

dwellings and office buildings, mining and milling facilities and recreational areas of elevated radioactivity. O f particular significance was the realisation that radon is a common contaminant in the atmosphere and that industries previously not thought to represent radiological hazards, such as air conditioned workplaces, cave guiding, and

oil and gas treatment, may result in measurable radiation exposure to employees.

67

ACTIVITIES OUTSIDE THE ALLIGATOR RIVERS REGION

_________________________________ 7

O bjective

Provide scientific and technical advice to the Commonwealth minister for the environment on environmental issues outside the Alligator Rivers Region, particularly in relation to the nuclear industry, uranium and mining.

The Office o f the Supervising Scientist has been involved in a number of activities outside the ARR following its incorporation into the EPA. These activities deal mainly with uranium or nuclear issues. In addition to these activities, OSS provides advice to EPA and DEST on a wide range o f uranium, nuclear, and environmental science

matters.

7.1 Visiting Ships Panel (Nuclear)

The Visiting Ships Panel (Nuclear) is an interdepartmental panel chaired by the Department o f Defence concerned with the visits of nuclear powered warships to Australian ports. The panel investigates the suitability o f ports for nuclear ships and advises on procedures necessary for ensuring public safety before, during and after visits. A representative from OSS, on behalf of DEST, advises on the environmental

implications o f nuclear powered warship visits.

7.2 Rehabilitation of former atomic weapon test sites

The Commonwealth Government, through DPIE, has a program in progress to rehabilitate the atomic weapon test sites located at Maralinga and Emu in South Australia. This project, expected to cost about $100 million, has major environmental significance. The project is in the initial planning stage, and an OSS technical specialist

has visited the Maralinga site and provided environmental and radiological advice to DPIE. It is envisioned that interaction will continue on the issue of the adequacy of environmental protection o f the rehabilitation project.

69

7.3 Radioactive waste repository

The Commonwealth Government, through DPIE, is in the second phase of a search for a suitable site for a repository for its low-level radioactive waste. This waste, which is currently stored in a number of temporary locations throughout Australia, consists of such items as luminous watches, smoke detectors, instrument dials,

contaminated clothing and industrial gauges. There is also approximately 2000 cubic metres of lightly contaminated soil from a former CSIRO laboratory site in Victoria. Eight potential sites throughout Australia have been identified as meeting the selection criteria. OSS has provided assistance in the environmental and radiological assessment o f these potential sites and expects to be further involved in the selection and impact assessment processes.

70

Financial transactions ____________ APPENDIX 1

T r a n s a c tio n s fo r t h e y e a r e n d in g 3 0 J u n e 1 9 9 4

Expenditure

1992-93 1993-94 1993-94

Actual Appropriation Actual

$ $ $

3 851 903 Salaries 3 332 000 3 262 718

3 710 055 Administrative 3 550 000 3 322 843

expenses

6 8 8 Legal fees 15 0 0 0 13 400

7 562 646 Total expenditure 6 897 000 6 598 961

Receipts

1992-93 1993-94 1993-94

Actual Budget Actual

$ $ $

188 948 Total receipts 400 000 395 040

71

APPENDIX 2

Information technology planning and development functions

The Information Technology section within OSS/ERISS provides:

• the computing facilities required by the Supervising Scientist to fulfil his functions under the Act; • advice to the Supervising Scientist on his information technology and data management needs;

• integration o f various computing platforms; • electronic communication facilities between the three sites; • project-specific software as required; • advice and assistance to staff on the use o f facilities.

The system comprises a Novell Netware 3.11 network with file servers in Jabiru and Canberra and a Sun SparcStation 2 multi-user system in Jabiru. The two sites are bridged by a 9600 bit/sec leased line. The Darwin office now has a separate Novell network with its own file server. The users in that office can access the main network via a shared modem and a remotely controlled PC in Jabiru.

The major changes to the computing system in the last 12 months has been the expansion of the network facilities. The network in the Darwin office has been upgraded to Novell Netware. This has allowed the Darwin file server to be configured along the same lines as the file servers in Jabiru and Canberra.

The Jabiru/Canberra network has been connected to that o f the Environmental Protection Agency and, through it, to the Internet — the worldwide network. This means users now have Email access to/from almost anywhere in the world. This wider reach o f the network will also benefit the running of the ERISS finance system as well

as inter-library communications.

The Prime 2755 minicomputer has been de-commissioned.

73

APPENDIX 3

Attendees at the first Alligator Rivers Region Advisory Committee meeting

Mr Ray Perry, Independent Chairperson Mr Barry Carbon, Supervising Scientist Dr Tony Press, Australian Nature Conservation Agency Mr John Mitchell, NT Department of Mines and Energy (NTDME)

Mr Matti Urvet, Conservation Commission o f the Northern Territory Mr Andrew Jackson, Northern Land Council Mr Rob Rawson, Department o f Primary Industries and Energy (Cwlth) Dr Ches Mason, Australian Radiation Laboratory

Mr Peter McNally, Energy Resources o f Australia Ltd (ERA) Mr Simon Solomons, ERA Mr Colin Hallenstein, Queensland Mines Pty Ltd (QMPL) Mr Peter Bailey, QMPL

Ms Carolyn Carttling, Northern Territory Environment Centre Mr Dave Sweeney, Peak conservation organisations nominee Ms Mandy Jones, Jabiru Town Council Mr Tony McGill, NTDME Dr Arthur Johnston, Environmental Research Institute o f the Supervising Scientist

Mr Stewart Needham, Office o f the Supervising Scientist Mr James Shevlin, Secretary

75

APPENDIX 4

List of publications, 1993-94

P u b lis h e d p a p e rs a n d re p o rts 1 9 9 3 - 9 4

Akber RA (ed) 1992. Proceedings o f the Workshop on Land Application o f Effluent Water from Uranium Mines in the Alligator Rivers Region. Jabiru 11-13 September 1990, Supervising Scientist for the Alligator Rivers Region, AGPS, Canberra.

Akber RA & Pfitzner JL 1994. Atmospheric Concentrations o f Radon and Radon Daughters in Jabiru East. Technical Memorandum 45, Supervising Scientist for the Alligator Rivers Region, AGPS, Canberra.

Ashwath N, Cusbert PJ, Bayliss B, McLaughlin M & Hunt C 1993. Chemical properties o f mine spoils and selected natural soils of the Alligator Rivers Region — implications for establishing native plant species on mine spoils. In Proceedings o f the Symposium on the Management and Rehabilitation o f Waste Rock Dumps. Darwin

7-8 October 1993. Supervising Scientist for the Alligator Rivers Region, AGPS, Canberra, 128-142.

Devonport C & Riley SJ 1993. Towards an operational GIS for the Alligator Rivers Region. In NARGIS 93 Proceedings o f the Northern Australian Remote Sensing and Geographic Information Systems forum, Darwin 9-11 August 1993, AURISA Monograph No 8 , Oct 1993, AGPS, Canbera, 108-117.

Devonport C, Riley SJ & Ringrose SM (eds) 1993. Proceedings o f the GIS and Environmental Rehabilitation Workshop. Darwin 4— 5 September 1992, Supervising Scientist for the Alligator Rivers Region, AGPS, Canberra.

Devonport C & Waggitt PW 1994. Geographic Information Systems and Remote Sensing in Northern Australia: A compendium. Technical Memorandum 44, Supervising Scientist for the Alligator Rivers Region, AGPS, Canberra.

Dostine PL, Humphrey CL & Faith DP 1993. Requirements fo r Effective Biological Monitoring o f Freshwater Ecosystems. Technical Memorandum 43, Supervising Scientist for the Alligator Rivers Region, AGPS, Canberra.

Dostine PL, Humphrey CL & Faith DP 1993. Requirements for effective biological monitoring o f freshwater ecosystems. In Proceedings o f the Ecotoxicology Specialist Workshop on 'Minimising the impact o f pesticides on the riverine environment, using the Cotton Industry as a Model', 1-2 March 93 Myall Vale Research Station Wee Waa, NSW (ed JC Chapman), Land & Water Resources Research and Development

Corporation, Occasional Paper No 07/93: 68-82.

Evans K & Riley S 1993. Surficial hydrology of waste rock dumps - management implications. In Proceedings o f the Symposium on the Management and Rehabilitation o f Waste Rock Dumps. Darwin 7-8 October 1993. Supervising Scientist for the Alligator Rivers Region, AGPS, Canberra, 57-68.

77

Finlayson CM 1992. Litterfall in a melaleuca forest, on a seasonally inundated flood plain in tropical northern Australia. Wetland Ecology and Management. 2 (4) 177-188.

Finlayson CM, Cowie ID & Bailey BJ 1993. Biomass and Utter dynamics in a Melaleuca forest on a seasonally inundated floodplain in tropical, northern Australia. Wetlands Ecology and Management 2 (4) 177-188.

Humphrey CL & Dostine PL 1994. Development of biological monitoring programs to detect mining waste impacts upon aquatic ecosystems of the Alligator Rivers Region, Northern Territory, Australia. Mitteilungen Internationalis Vereinigung Limnologiae, 24, 293-314.

Hyne RV, Padovan A, Parry DL & Renaud SM 1993. Increased fecundity of the Cladoceran, Moinodaphnia Macleayi on a diet supplemented with a green alga and its use in toxicity tests. Australian Journal o f Marine and Freshwater Research 44, 389-99.

leGras CAA 1991. Simultaneous determination of anions and divalent cations using Ion Chromatography with Ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid as Eluent. The Analyst 18, 8 (Aug 1993) 1035-1041.

leGras C, Akber R, Andrew A & Riley G 1993. Redox transformations o f sulfur in Ranger waste rock and its receptor water bodies, and the role of sulfur-isotope measurements. In Proceedings o f the Symposium on the Management and Rehabilitation o f Waste Rock Dumps. Darwin 7-8 October 1993. Supervising Scientist for the Alligator Rivers Region, AGPS, Canberra, 94-102.

Murray AS, Johnston A, Martin P, Hancock G, Marten R & Pfitzner J 1993. Transport o f naturally occurring radionuclides by a seasonal tropical river, northern Australia. Journal o f Hydrology 150, 19-39.

Murray AS, Johnston A, Martin P, Hancock G, Marten R & Pfitzner J (in press). Transport o f Naturally Occurring Radionuclides in the Surface Waters o f the Magela Creek and Flood Plain, Northern Australia. Research Report 8 , Supervising Scientist for the Alligator Rivers Region, AGPS, Canberra.

Noller BN & Hart BT 1993 Uranium in sediments from the Magela Creek catchment, Northern Territory, Australia. Environmental Technology, 14, 649-656.

Riley SJ 1994. Modelling hydrogeomorphic processes to assess the stability of rehabilitated landforms, Ranger Uranium Mine, Northern Territory Australia — A research strategy. Process Models and Theoretical Geomorphology, MJ Kirkby ed John Wiley & Sons Ltd, 357-388.

Riley SJ, Devonport C, Waggitt PW & Fitzpatrick B (eds) 1993. NARGIS 93: Proceedings o f the North Australian Remote Sensing and Geographic Information Systems Forum. Darwin 9-11 August 1993, AURISA Monograph No 8 , Oct 1993, AGPS, Canberra.

78

Riley SJ, Waggitt PW & McQuade C (eds) 1993. Proceedings o f the Symposium on the Management and Rehabilitation o f Waste Rock Dumps. Darwin 7-8 October 1993, Supervising Scientist for the Alligator Rivers Region, AGPS, Canberra.

Rippon GD & Chapman JC 1993. Laboratory Procedures fo r Assessing Effects o f Chemicals on Aquatic Animals. Technical Memorandum 42, Supervising Scientist for the Alligator Rivers Region, AGPS, Canberra.

Rippon GD & Chapman JC 1993. Laboratory procedures for assessing effects of chemicals on aquatic animals. In Proceedings o f the Ecotoxicology Specialist Workshop on 'Minimising the impact o f pesticides on the riverine environment, using the Cotton Industry as a Model', 1-2 March 93 Myall Vale Research Station Wee Waa, NSW (ed JC Chapman), Land & Water Resources Research and Development

Corporation, Occasional Paper No 07/93: 40-52.

Rippon GD, Hyne RV & Hunt SM 1994. The application o f biological toxicity tests to assess environmental impact o f mining in northern Australia. In Proceedings o f the Conference on Environmental Toxicology In S.E. Asia. Solatiga, Indonesia. Published by Vrije Universiteit Press Amsterdam, 243-250.

Roberts RG, Uren CJ & Murray AS 1993. Thermoluminescence dating techniques at the Alligator Rivers Region Research Institute. Technical Memorandum 41, Supervising Scientist for the Alligator Rivers Region, AGPS, Canberra.

Supervising Scientist for the Alligator Rivers Region 1993. Supervising Scientist fo r the Alligator Rivers Region: Annual Report 1992-93. AGPS, Canberra.

Supervising Scientist for the Alligator Rivers Region. Proceedings o f the Workshop on Biological Monitoring o f Freshwater Ecosystems in Tropical Northern Australia. 21-24 September 1993, Supervising Scientist for the Alligator Rivers Region, AGPS, Canberra.

Willett IR, Bond WJ, Akber RA, Lynch DJ & Campbell GD 1993. The fate o f water and solutes following irrigation with retention pond water at Ranger Uranium Mine. Research Report 10, Supervising Scientist for the Alligator Rivers Region, AGPS, Canberra.

Willett I, Noller BN & Beech TA 1994. Mobility o f radium and heavy metals from uranium mine tailings in acid sulfate soils. Australian Journal o f Soil Research, 32, 335-355.

Willgoose G 1993. Hydrology and erosion. In Proceedings o f the Symposium on the Management and Rehabilitation o f Waste Rock Dumps. Darwin 7-8 October 1993. Supervising Scientist for the Alligator Rivers Region, AGPS, Canberra.

Willgoose G & Riley SR 1993. Scale dependence of runoff and the hydrology of a proposed mine rehabilitation. Hydrology and Water Resources Symposium, Newcastle. June30— July 2 1993, 159—164.

79

Woodland DJ & Ward PJ 1992. Fish communities in sandy pools o f Magela Creek, Alligator Rivers Region. Research Report 9, Supervising Scientist for the Alligator Rivers Region, AGPS, Canberra.

Unpublished papers and reports 1993-94

Andersen A, Ashwath N & Morrison S 1993. The role of terrestrial invertebrates in mine site restoration. Internal Report 133, Supervising Scientist for the Alligator Rivers Region, Canberra.

Ashwath N 1993. Progress of the revegetation research at the Alligator Rivers Region Research Institute, Jabiru (1990-93). Revised version. Internal Report 113, Supervising Scientist for the Alligator Rivers Region, Canberra.

Ashwath N & Chandrasekaran M 1993. An examination of plant stress symptoms at Ranger land application area — November 1993. Internal Report 132, Supervising Scientist for the Alligator Rivers Region, Canberra.

Boyden J & Pidgeon R 1994. Biological monitoring of freshwater fish communities in lowland billabongs o f the Alligator Rivers Region. Design, methods and data for the 1993 Pop-Net sampling program Internal Report 147, Supervising Scientist for the Alligator Rivers Region, Canberra.

Brennan K 1994. Project 320702 — Phenology of native plants with potential for use for revegetation on the Ranger Uranium Mine project area. Internal Report 145, Supervising Scientist for the Alligator Rivers Region, Canberra.

Brown VM 1994. Report on current procedures used in the Aquatic Toxicology Laboratory of the Alligator Rivers Region Research Institute. Internal Report 140, Supervising Scientist for the Alligator Rivers Region, Canberra.

Brundrett M, Abbott L, Jasper D, Ashwath N, Malajczuk N & Bougher N 1993. Mycorrhizal associations of plants in disturbed and undisturbed soils o f the Alligator Rivers Region. Part ΠΙ progress report December 1992. Internal Report 121, Supervising Scientist for the Alligator Rivers Region, Canberra.

Carter MW, McBride TP & Akber RA 1994. Water quality criteria for land irrigation of Ranger Uranium Mine retention pond 2 water. Internal Report 148, Supervising Scientist for the Alligator Rivers Region, Canberra.

Chandrasekaran M 1994. A review o f pH and salinity tolerance o f native vegetation in the Alligator Rivers Region of the NT. Internal Report 149, Supervising Scientist for the Alligator Rivers Region, Canberra.

Cusbert PJ, leGras CAA & Fox T 1994. The determination of total kjeldahl nitrogen in soils using acid digestion, distillation and ion chromatography. Internal Report 146, Supervising Scientist for the Alligator Rivers Region, Canberra.

Devonport C 1993. Magela Creek flood plain video survey. Internal Report 130, Supervising Scientist for the Alligator Rivers Region, Canberra.

80

Devonport C & Waggitt P 1993. GIS and remote sensing in Northern Australia: An initial compendium. Internal Report 120, Supervising Scientist for the Alligator Rivers Region, Canberra.

Devonport C, Waggitt P & Finlayson M 1994. Magela Creek Flood Plain Video Survey 20 April 1994. Internal Report 156, Supervising Scientist for the Alligator Rivers Region, Canberra.

Destine PL, Flumphrey CL & Spiers AG 1993. Benthic macroinvertabrate communities in Rockhole Mine Creek: Review of 1992 data. Internal Report 116, Supervising Scientist for the Alligator Rivers Region, Canberra.

Evans KG & Riley SJ 1993. Large scale erosion plots on the Ranger Uranium Mine waste rock dump. Natural rainfall monitoring 1992/93 Wet season: Part 1 hydrology data. Internal Report 118, Supervising Scientist for the Alligator Rivers Region,

Canberra.

Evans KG & Riley SJ 1993. Large scale erosion plots on the Ranger Uranium Mine waste rock dump: Natural rainfall monitoring — 1992/93 Wet season Part 2: sediment loss data. Internal Report 131, Supervising Scientist for the Alligator Rivers

Region, Canberra.

Finnegan LG 1993. Hydrolic characteristics o f deep ripping under simulated rainfall at Ranger Uranium Mine (Thesis). Internal Report 134, Supervising Scientist for the Alligator Rivers Region, Canberra.

Gillespie P, Riley SJ & Devonport C 1993. Major element and trace element analysis at Nabarlek, Ranger Uranium Mine, and Tin Camp Creek using the Pine Creek Geosyncline geochemical data set in an oracle relational database environment. Internal Report 124, Supervising Scientist for the Alligator Rivers Region, Canberra.

Hancock G 1994. The concentration o f uranium and thorium series in sediments and waterlilies from Djalkmara Billabong. Internal Report 136, Supervising Scientist for the Alligator Rivers Region, Canberra.

Hope DM & Webster IT 1993. Evaporation from a mine retention pond: An evaluation o f data quality and an assessment of applicable evaporation estimation techniques, CSIRO Centre for Environmental Mechanics. Internal Report 122, upervising Scientist for the Alligator Rivers Region, Canberra.

Hope DM & Webster IT 1994. Estimation of evaporation from a mine retention pond. Open File Record 113, Supervising Scientist for the Alligator Rivers Region, Canberra.

Humphrey CL, Destine PL, Pidgeon RWJ, Brown VM, Johnston A & Faith DP 1994. Biological monitoring o f freshwater ecosystems in tropical northern Australia. Internal Report 141, Supervising Scientist for the Alligator Rivers Region, Canberra.

81

Johnston A 1994. Management o f the Research Program o f the Alligator Rivers Region Research Institute. Internal Report 137, Supervising Scientist for the Alligator Rivers Region, Canberra.

Johnston A 1994. Submission by the Office o f the Supervisign Scientist to Review of the Current Commonwealth Environmental Protection Research needs in the Alligator Rivers Region. Internal Report 138, Supervising Scientist for the Alligator Rivers Region, Canberra.

Jones M 1993. The development o f methods to measure the complexing capacity of natural waters and their application to Magela Creek Waters. Open File Record 112, Supervising Scientist for the Alligator Rivers Region, Canberra.

Keith G 1993. Random.WQI: Random number generator version 2.1, October 93. Internal Report 128, Supervising Scientist for the Alligator Rivers Region, Canberra.

Keith G 1993. Flex sheet: Version 1.15. Management Report 1, Supervising Scientist for the Alligator Rivers Region, Canberra.

Klessa DA & leGras CAA 1994. The effects o f soil storage on soil properties, and the soil seed bank and its implications for soil emplacement in the rehabilitation of Nabarlek mine site: A review of the literature and plan of study. Internal Report 153, Supervising Scientist for the Alligator Rivers Region, Canberra.

leGras C, Akber RA & Andrew A 1993. The sulfur-isotope composition of pore water, seepage and infiltration samples from the tailings dam, Ranger Uranium Mine, Northern Territory. Internal Report 126, Supervising Scientist for the Alligator Rivers Region, Canberra.

leGras C, Klessa D, Hunt C, Ryan B & Cusbert P 1994. The determination of Linear p-Alkylbenzenesulphonate surfactants in fresh water. Internal Report 154, Supervising Scientist for the Alligator Rivers Region, Canberra.

Martin P, Akber RA, Paulka S & Hancock G 1993. Radionuclide analyses of water from Nabarlek evaporation ponds and silt traps. Internal Report 117, Supervising Scientist for the Alligator Rivers Region, Canberra.

Mclntrye WD 1992. Seed germination in a selection of species native to Kakadu National Park. Open File Record 110, Supervising Scientist for the Alligator Rivers Region, Canberra.

McQuade CV 1993. Probabalistic design for risk analysis in mine water resource mangement systems. PhD thesis, Department of Mining and Metallurgical Engineering, The University of Queensland.

McQuade CV 1994. A summary o f information relating to high uranium levels in Magela Creek derived from the primary crusher feed ore stockpile. Internal Report 152, Supervising Scientist for the Alligator Rivers Region, Canberra.

82

McQuade CV 1994. Simulation modelling of water disposal from the Ranger mine tailings water management system during rehabilitation. Internal Report 150, Supervising Scientist for the Alligator Rivers Region, Canberra.

McQuade CV 1994. Probability o f disposing o f water from the Nabarlek water management system for site rehabihtation. Internal Report 155, Supervising Scientist for the Alligator Rivers Region, Canberra.

Morgan AR 1994. Erosional stability of mine rehabihtation (Thesis). Internal Report 135, Supervising Scientist for the Alligator Rivers Region, Canberra.

Noller BN 1994. A study o f the mixing zone o f discharged waters during the 1985 release o f RP4 waters to Magela Creek. Internal Report 143, Supervising Scientist for the Alligator Rivers Region, Canberra.

OSS Supervisory and Assessment Branch 1993. Supervisory and Assessment Branch — Annual work program 1993-94 July 93. Internal Report 127, Supervising Scientist for the Alligator Rivers Region, Canberra.

Paulka S, Martin P, Hancock G & Akber RA 1993. Radionuclide analyses o f water from Ranger Uranium Mine retention ponds and tailings dam. Internal Report 129, Supervising Scientist for the Alligator Rivers Region, Canberra.

Pfitzner J & Davy M 1994. OSS Tower climbing practices and rescue procedures manual. Management Report 2, Supervising Scientist for the Alligator Rivers Region, Canberra.

Riley SJ 1994. Geomorphology — Five year strategic plan. Internal Report 144, Supervising Scientist for the Alligator Rivers Region, Canberra.

Riley SJ 1994. Hydrological monitoring of Tin Camp Creek mica and quartz catchments, 1993-94 Wet season. Internal Report 151, Supervising Scientist for the Alligator Rivers Region, Canberra.

Riley SJ, Devonport C, Waggitt PW, Burrough PA, Milne AK & Skidmore AK (eds) 1994. Proceedings o f the Alligator Rivers Region Geographic Information Systems Workshop (ARRGIS 93) 12-13 August 1993, Jabiru, NT. Internal Report 139, Supervising Scientist for the Alligator Rivers Region, Canberra.

Rippon G & McBride P 1994. Biological toxicity testing o f Gadjarrigamamdah Creek water at Nabarlek — Final report for Project 2108. Internal Report 142, Supervising Scientist for the Alligator Rivers Region, Canberra.

Smith M 1994. Monitoring recovery: The effect o f acidity on aquatic invertebrate communities. Open File Record 111, Supervising Scientist for the Alligator Rivers Region, Canberra.

Waggitt P & Devonport C 1993. A guide to organising and planning a scientific conference or workshop in the Top End. Internal Report 125, Supervising Scientist for the Alligator Rivers Region, Canberra.

83

Waggitt PW, Riley SJ, Devonport C & Fitzpatrick B 1993. North Australian Remote Sensing and Geographic Information Systems Forum (NARGIS 93): astracts. Internal Report 119, Supervising Scientist for the Alligator Rivers Region, Canberra.

Waggitt PW, Riley SJ & McQuade C 1993. WRD 1993: Waste rock dump symposium: abstracts. Internal Report 123, Supervising Scientist for the Alligator Rivers Region, Canberra.

Presentations to conferences and symposia 1993-94

Akber R 1993. Land application of effluent water from uranium mines in the Alligator Rivers Region: Radiological aspects ARPS 18 Annual Conference 5-8 October 1993 Sydney (oral presentation).

Akber RA, Martin P, Marten R, Pfitzner J & Paulka S 1994. Radiological aspects of land application o f effluent water from uranium mines in the Alligator Rivers Region. South Pacific Environmental Radioactivity Association Workshop, February 1994, Canberra.

Ashwath N 1992. Acid soil tolerance o f Australian tropical and sub-tropical Acacias. In Proceedings o f the 3rd International Symposium on Plant-soil interaction at low pH. Coolan Qld 12-16 Sept (poster only).

Ashwath N, Cusbert PC, Bayliss B, McLaughlin M & Himt C 1993. Chemical properties of mine spoils and selected natural soils of the Alligator Rivers Region — implications for establishing native plant species on mine spoils. In Proceedings o f the Symposium on the Management and Rehabilitation o f Waste Rock Dumps. Darwin

7-8 October 1993. Supervising Scientist for the Alligator Rivers Region, AGPS, Canberra, 128-142.

Bishop KA & Pidgeon RWJ ((in press). Temporal and spatial patterns of fish migration in relation to development of a method of monitoring effects on uranium mining on Magela Creek NT. Conference on the Use o f biota to assess water quality. Co-operative research centre for freshwater ecology, University of Canberra 21-24

September 1993.

Brundrett MC, Abbott LK, Jasper DA & Ashwath N 1993. The diversity of VAM fungi in undisturbed and disturbed habitats o f Kakadu National Park and its environs, Australia, at 9th North American Conference on Mycorrhizae, Guelph Canada 8-12 August 1993 (poster only).

Brundrett MC, Abbott LK, Jasper DA & Ashwath N 1993. Propagules of mycorrhizal fungi in undisturbed and disturbed habitats of Kakadu National Park and its environs, Australia, at 9th North American Conference on Mycorrhizae, Guelph Canada 8-12 August 1993 (poster only).

Brundrett MC, Abbott LK, Jasper DA & Ashwath N 1993. The isolation and enumeration o f VAM fungi from various habitats of Kakadu National Park and its environs, Australia, at 9th North American Conference on Mycorrhizae, Guelph Canada 8-12 August 1993 (poster only).

84

Cassels B & Akber R 1993. Critical groups and control of radiation related practices. Radiological aspects ARPS 18 Annual Conference 5-8 October 1993 Sydney (oral presentation). '

Faith DP, Dostine PL & Humphrey CL (in press). Detection o f mining impacts on aquatic macroinvertebrate communities: results of a disturbance experiment and the design o f a multivariate BACDP monitoring program at Coronation Hill. Conference on the Use o f biota to assess water quality. Co-operative research centre for freshwater ecology, University o f Canberra 21-24 September 1993.

Humphrey CL, Faith DP & Dostine PL (in press). Baseline requirements for assessment o f mining impact using biological monitoring. Australian Journal o f Ecology.

Humphrey CL, Dostine PL, Pidgeon RWJ, Brown VM, Johnston A & Faith DP (in press). Biological monitoring of freshwater ecosystems in tropical northern Australia. Specialist Workshop to Assess the ARRRJ Biological Monitoring Program, 24 September 1993, University o f Canberra, ACT. Organised by the Office o f the

Supervising Scientist..

leGras C, Paulka S, Akber R & Martin P 1993. Vertical gradients in the pore-water composition o f Ranger Uranium Mine tailings. In Proceedings o f the 12th Analytical Chemistry Symposium and 3rd Environmental Chemistry Conference, Royal Australian Chemical Institute, 26 September -1 October 1993, Perth.

Martin P, Akber RA & Marten R 1994. Counting of live mussels on a HPGe detector. South Pacific Environmental Radioactivity Association workshop, February 1994, Canberra.

Martin P, Hancock G, Johnston A & Murray AS 1994. Bioaccumulation of radionuclides in significant Aboriginal bush foods from the Magela and Cooper Creek systems. South Pacific Environmental Radioactivity Association workshop, February 1994, Canberra.

Rippon GD 1994. The role o f biological toxicity tests in assessing mining impacts in northern Australia. In Proceedings o f the Australasian Society fo r Ecotoxicity, University of Technology, 23-24 June 1994, Sydney.

Waggitt PW & Riley SJ 1993. Development of erosion standards for use in rehabilitation at Ranger Mine. In Partnership fo r Change — Environmental Practice in the 1990s. Environment Institute o f Australia National Conference, Sydney Convention Centre Darling Harbour. 22-24 September 1993. P O ll (poster only).

85

Consultancies APPENDIX 5

ERISS Consultancy program

ERISS consultancy projects (including those valued below $2000) active during part or all o f 1993-94, are grouped below according to the relevant ERISS subprogram. A recording of'nil' expenditure means that no payment was made during 1993-94. The total cost o f each consultancy is given in brackets in the expenditure column.

Key to justification codes

A The expertise needed to conduct a particular project that is required in the program is not available with current ERISS and OSS staff

B Resources o f ERISS and/or OSS are not adequate to undertake a high priority, short- term project.

C onsultancy p ro ject Collaborating organisation/consultancy 1 9 9 3 -9 4 expenditure

Justification

Aquatic Biology

Multivariate analyses for biological monitoring

CSIRO Division o f Wildlife and Ecology (Dr DP Faith)

1500 A

Environmental Radioactivity

Fate of trace metals Phase V Chisholm Institute of Technology

(Dr BT Hart)

9500 A

Radionuclide impact of uranium mining in ARR

CSIRO Division o f Water Resources Research (Dr AS Murray)

Nil

(4000)

A

Role o f particulate matter in the transportation o f trace metals and

radionuclides

Chisholm Institute of Technology (Dr BT Hart)

NU

(6600)

A

contd...

87

Consultancy project Collaborating organisation/consultancy 1 9 9 3 -9 4 expenditure

Justification

To design and construct a portable diffusion battery to carry out field studies in Jabiru and Jabiru East

Australian Radiation Laboratory (Dr S Solomon)

5000 A

R e h a b ilita tio n

Occurrence of mycorrhizal fungi in the ARR.

University o f WA (Dr D Jasper)

19 000

Development o f a geographic information system

Northern Territory University (Dr Hazelton)

13 000 A

The role o f ants in mine site restoration CSIRO (Dr A Andersen)

41 200 A

Selection and characterisation of rhizobium strains for improved nitrogen fixation by legumes used in mine site revegetation

CSIRO (Dr A Gibson)

16 350 A

Willgoose Model Phase 2 University o f Newcastle (Dr G Willgoose)

17 000 A

Evaporation study CSIRO Centre for Environmental Mechanics (Dr I Webster)

7860 A

T O T A L $130 410

88

Overseas visits by ERISS staff, 1993-94 ________________________________ APPENDIX 6

Dr Greg Rippon

Dr Max Finlayson

Dr Max Finlayson

Dr Max Finlayson

Dr Max Finlayson

Dr Max Finlayson

Environmental Toxicology in SE Asia, Salatiga, Indonesia, 3-5 August 1993

Biotest: Current and future prospects, Moscow, 8-5 August 1993

International Waterfowl & Wetland Research Bureau, United Kingdom, 21 Oct-3 November 1993

Ramsar Regional Workshop: Priorities and institutional mechanisms for wetland protection and wise use in Southeast Asia, Bogor Indonesia, 29 M arch-1 April 1994

Medwet subproject on welt and inventory and monitoring. 2nd Advisory Group Meeting, Tunisia, 18-21 April 1994

Oceania Wetlands Workshop, Papua New Guinea, 6-10 June 1994

89

APPENDIX 7

Abbreviations and acronyms

ANCA Australian Nature Conservation Agency

AGPS Australian Government Publishing Service

ARPS Australian Radiation Protection Society

ARR Alligator Rivers Region

ARRRI Alligator Rivers Region Research Institute (former) AURISA Australian Urban and Regional Information Systems Association AusIMM Australian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy

CCNT Conservation Commission of the Northern Territory CSIRO Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation DEST Department o f the Environment, Sport and Territories (Cwlth) DPEE Department o f Primary Industries and Energy (Cwlth)

EL exploration hcense

EP evaporation pond

EP(ARR) Act Environment Protection (Alligator Rivers Region) Act 1978 ER environmental requirement (Cwlth)

EPA Environment Protection Agency (Cwlth)

EPR environmental performance review

ERA Energy Resources o f Australia Ltd

ERISS Environmental Research Institute of the Supervising Scientist (formerley ARRRI) GIS geographic information system

LOEC lowest observed effect concentration

NOEC no observed effect concentration

NTDME Northern Territory Department of Mines and Energy OB observation bore

OSS Office of the Supervising Scientist

QMPL Queensland Mines Pty Ltd

Ra radium

RP retention pond

RRZ restricted release zone

RS remote sensing

RUEI Ranger Uranium Environmental Inquiry

S siemens; unit of electrical conductance

Sv sievert; unit of the effective dose of radiation

ST silt trap

U30 8 an oxide of uranium - the product o f milling of uranium;

sometimes used as a measure of the uranium content o f ore UM(EC) Act Uranium Mining (Environmental Control) Act 1979

91

.

Annual report requirements checklist _____________________________ APPENDIX 8

The program descriptions contained in this annual report have been prepared to satisfy the requirements o f the Environment Protection (Alligator Rivers Region) Act 1978. Although the guidelines outlined in the document entitled Revised Annual Report Requirements fo r Departments (Joint Committee of Public Accounts, March 1994) have been used in the preparation of this report, most corporate information relating to the activities o f the Supervising Scientist is reported in the annual report of the

Department o f the Environment Sport and Territories and is not duplicated here. The following list indicates where each o f the major reporting requirements can be found.

REQUIREMENT p age/w h ere found

Letter o f tra n s m itta l.......................................................................................................... iii

Aids to access

Table o f contents................................................................................................... vii

Compliance index................................................................................................... 93

Alphabetical index.................................................................................................. 95

Guide to the rep o rt................................................................................................. vi

Contact officer................ iv

Corporate overview

Objectives, functions.......................................................... 4, 5, 31, 27, 47, 65, 69

Organisational chart................................................................................................. 6

Changes to corporate structure..............................................................................7

Social justice and equity..................................................................................DEST

Internal and external scrutiny........................................................................ DEST

Program perform ance reporting

Administrative arrangements ...........................................................................7-18

Environmental assessments............................................................................27-44

Research........................................................................................................... 47-64

O ther...................................................................................... 21-24, 65-67, 69-70

Staffing o v e rv ie w .......................................................................................................DEST

Financial s ta te m e n ts ................................................................................................................ "

Inform ation on specific statutory provisions

Industrial democracy................................

Occupational health and safety...............

Freedom of information...........................

93

INDEX

abbreviations/acronyms 91 Australian Radiation Protection Society 67 Aboriginal people Australian Trust for Conservation

approvals for North Ranger 29 Volunteers 61

land in the ARR 1 authorisations 8

radiological exposure 38 see also Ranger uranium mine;

see also environmental incidents Nabarlek uranium mine Aboriginal Land Rights (NT) Act, 18 administrative arrangements 5-19 biological monitonng 22, 53--56

changes, :xi, 5-6 aquatic ecosystems 48-49

objective 5 Canberra workshop 49, 67

Alligator Rivers Region (ARR) 1-3 role 34

environmental research 47-64 see also Gadjarigamamda Creek; map 2 Magela Creek; South Alligator River;

uranium deposits water quality

mining and export 1 budget 4, 7, 71

see also exploration licences Alligator Rivers Region Advisory conferences, seminars and workshops 65-67 Committee, 5, 8-13, 33,42 Alligator Rivers Region Geographic attendees at first meeting, 75 Information Systems Workshop 66

chairperson 9 biological monitoring workshop 67

frequency and timing of meetings 11 management of waste rock dumps 65 functions 10 Radon and Radon Progeny

inputs 11 Measurements in Australia 67

membership 10 remote sensing and geographic

outputs 11 information systems 66

Alligator Rivers Region Research Conservation Commission of the NT12, 19 Institute (ARISS),former 7 consultancies 47, 60, 87

see also ERISS; research institute contact officer viii

Alligator Rivers Region Technical Coordinating Committee for the Alligator Committee 5,8-13,25 Rivers Region, former 5

chairperson 9 CSIRO see salvinia

functions 12

inputs 13 Department of Primary Industries and

meetings 13 Energy (DPIE) 18

membership 12 radioactive waste repository 70

outputs 13 rehabilitation of atomic weapon test

ANCA/ANPWS x, 12,19 sites 69

chief executive officer x, 10 Department of the Environment, Sport and management of Kakadu National Park 1 membership of Advisory and Technical Committees 10-13

see also salvinia Animal Experimentation Ethics Committee 60 Arnhem Land Atomic Energy Act 1953

atomic weapon test sites rehabilitation Australian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy

3

19

Territories (DEST) v, 7

uranium, nuclear, and environmental science matters 69

Energy Resources of Australia Ltd (ERA) 3 water quality measurements on Magela Creek 37

see also Jabiluka (North Ranger); exploration licences Envmnt Protection (Alligator Rivers Region)Act viii, v, 3, 10-12, 47

95

amendment 3-5 control of Salvinia molesta 50

Environment Protection Agency (EPA) 5 Koongarra uranium deposit 3,44 amalgamation with OSS 7 Project Area 3

Executive Director 5 transfer of shares to Cogema 3

nuclear and mining policy requirements 7 see also exploration licences environmental assessments 27-45 objective 27 land application of wastewaters 23

environmental incidents 11, 18 see Nabarlek forest irrigation area concern to public 18 see Ranger land application area

concern to traditional owners 18 see also Ranger General Authorisation; Magela Creek 3

environmental requirements biological monitoring 49

environmental issues outside the Alligator water quality 34

Rivers Region, 5, 69 see salvinia; ERA; NTDME

environmental performance reviews Maralinga see DP1E (EPRs) 8,11,14-16,27 mine operators

Nabarlek 15, 42— 43 reports and plans 13, 27

questionnaire 14-16 mine-site inspections

Ranger 14, 33-34, 63 replacement by EPRs 14

review team 14,33,42 Minister for the Environment, Sport and

environmental requirements (ERs) 8,9 Territories viii, 1, 4, 5, 11-13

infringement 18 ministerial responsibility viii

review, Ranger 18

technical divergences 18, 31-32, 34 Nabarlek Consolidated Authorisation 38 Environmental Research Institute of the applications to vary 39

Supervising Scientist (ERISS) 7, 25, 47 Nabarlek Decommissioning Working see also research institute Group 9

annual research program 13 Nabarlek uranium mine 3

Envmntl Res InformationNetwork 66 decommissioning and rehabilitation 9,43 exploration licences 3,44 EPR 4:i— 43

map 44 areas identified for improvement 43

evaporation ponds 39

financial transactions see budget forest irrigation area 43

mine site 40

Gadjarrigamamda Creek map 41

biological survey 43 processing plant, sale of 39

water quality 43 silt trap 39

geographic information systems 57, 66 stockpile runoff pond 39

tailings pit 42

information technology 8, 73 water management system 39

infringements see environmental incidents; water quality 43— 44

environmental requirements National Resource Information Centre 66 Northern Land Council 18, 19, 43

Jabiluka (North Ranger) uranium deposit Ranger ERs 18

3, 29, 44 Northern Territory Department of Mines

Aboriginal approvals 29 and Energy (NTDME) 5, 12, 17, 19, 34

ERA purchase 3 evaluation reports 11

ERA drilling 44 implementation of ERs 18

Project Area 3 water quality measurements on Magela

see also exploration licenses Creek

see also EPR review team 37

Kakadu National Park 1, 3, 25 Northern Territory Government

96

working arrangements 9, 17

Northern Territory legislation 8

Northern Territory University 12 Nourlangie Creek 3

Office of the Supervising Scientist (OSS) 19 change from Supervisory and Assessment Branch 7

investigations uranium mill tailings disposal 63 re vegetation techniques 63

acidity and salinity tolerance of vegetation 63

Ranger mine environmental performance 63

review of ERs 18

see also EPR review team

performance indicators 4

publications see research institute

Queensland Mines Pty Ltd (QMPL) 3 environmental management at Nabarlek 42 see also exploration licences

radioactive waste repository 70

radiological emissions estimate 33

radiological exposure 56

Aboriginals 38

Australian limit 38

employees 38

International Commission of Radiological Protection limit 38 public 38

radon and radon progeny studies 57, 67 Ranger General Authorisation applications to alter 19, 30

technical divergences 31-32

Ranger Periodic Surveillance Committee 19 Ranger Rehabilitation Technical Working Group 9

Ranger Uranium Environmental Inquiry 1-3, 18, 64

Ranger uranium mine 3

EPR 33

areas for improvement 33

high-grade ore stockpile 32

land application area 35-36

magnesium sulphate efflorescence 35-36, 37

low-grade ore stockpile 34

manufacture of sulfuric acid 28 mine and mill production 30

mine site 28

map 29

No. 1 pit conversion to tailings repository 29 ore reserves and mineral resources 30 Project Area 3

restricted release zone 32

retention ponds sulfate and magnesium levels 34-36 uranium levels 34— 36

tailings dam seepage research 51

water management system 34-38 capacity 36-37

monitoring 37-38

see Ranger land application area water quality 34-36

see also radiological exposure 38 regulatory requirements Commonwealth, see environmental requirements 8

Northern Territory 8

rehabilitation 23, 57-58

contaminants in groundwater 24 fate of erosion products 23

strategies 11

see also Nabarlek uranium mine; revegetation research in the Alligator Rivers Region 47-64 baseline 22

highlights 48

objectives 47

operational phase 22

programs 21-22,47

techniques 24

see also biological monitoring; OSS investigations; rehabilitation; revegetation; review of research priorities research institute

Annual Research Summary 48 collaborative projects 47

commercial basis 5

Director 47

future directions 24

library 62

overseas visits by staff 89

project progress reports 53

publications 48,77

staff 7

97

see also ARISS; ERISS; Aust Trust Cons V'lteers; consultancies; research; scholarships restricted release zone see Ranger revegetation 23, 53, 58-60, 63

review of research priorities 21-25 objective 21

salvinia control with herbicide 51

in Kakadu 50

scholarships 62

South Alligator River biological monitoring 49

staff 4,7

sulfuric acid, see Ranger uranium mine summary xi

Supervising Scientist activities outside the Alligator Rivers Region 69

appointment under the Public Service Act 1922 5

functions 4-5

key stakeholders 8

objective 4

overview xi

responsibility for implementation ERs 8 supporting organisation 6

see also EPR review team

training 61

Uramum Export Levy 5

uranium mill tailings disposal 63 Uranium Mining (Envmtl Ctrl) Act, 7-18

Visiting Ships Panel (Nuclear) 69

warship visits 9

water management 11

water quality 24

biological standards 38

radium isotopes 51

sulfur isotopes 52

see also Ranger uranium mine; Nabarlek uranium mine water release control of 22

effects on humans 23

work experience see Aust Trust Cons V'lteers; training

98

THE PARLIAMENT OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA

PARLIAMENTARY PAPER No. 333 of 1994 ORDERED TO BE PRINTED

ISSN 0727-418

A 50606 9427097