Internal Report 609
Supervising Scientist Division
The Supervising Scientist Division (SSD) operates an integrated chemical (including radiological), physical and biological monitoring program to ensure protection of the aquatic ecosystems of the Alligator Rivers Region (ARR) from the impact of uranium mines in the region. The Ranger Mine, operated by Energy Resources of Australia Ltd, is the only operating mine in the region, with the nearby Jabiluka site having been largely rehabilitated and in long-term care and maintenance. Consequently, the Ranger Mine is the current focus of SSD’s monitoring effort. The monitoring conducted by SSD is an independent assurance program, which complements the compliance water chemistry monitoring program carried out by the mining company (Energy Resources of Australia Ltd) and the check monitoring carried out by the NT government regulator (Department of Mines and Energy).
The techniques and ‘indicators’ used in the monitoring program satisfy two important needs of environmental protection:
- the early detection of significant changes in measured indicators to avoid short- or longer- term ecologically important impacts; and
- assessing ecological or ecosystem-level effects by using surrogate indicators of biodiversity. The surface water chemistry monitoring program falls under the early detection category.
For each monitoring component, two levels of documents have been prepared- high-level protocols and detailed operational manuals. This document is the high-level protocol that describes the science underpinning the surface water chemistry monitoring program. It provides an overview of the monitoring principles and objectives, experimental and statistical design, sample collection and chemical analysis methods, data analysis and impact assessment procedures and reporting requirements.