Water quality, water management and the ranger uranium project: Guidelines, trends and issues

Ferguson, B and Mudd, G 2011, 'Water quality, water management and the ranger uranium project: Guidelines, trends and issues', Water, Air, and Soil Pollution, vol. 217, no. 14, pp. 347-363.


Document type: Journal Article
Collection: Journal Articles

Title Water quality, water management and the ranger uranium project: Guidelines, trends and issues
Author(s) Ferguson, B
Mudd, G
Year 2011
Journal name Water, Air, and Soil Pollution
Volume number 217
Issue number 14
Start page 347
End page 363
Total pages 17
Publisher Springer
Abstract This paper explores the regulation of water quality protection downstream from the Ranger Uranium Project in the Alligator Rivers Region, an area of high conservation value which is both World Heritage- and Ramsar-listed. Available historical monitoring data for surface water quality in Magela Creek downstream of Ranger have been compiled and analysed with respect to hydrologic data and the Australian and New Zealand Environment and Conservation Council-Agricultural and Resource Management Council of Australia and New Zealand (ANZECC-ARMCANZ) regulatory guidelines, introduced in late 2000. The paper focuses on the underlying scientific basis for the current approach and examines the complex inter-relationships of minesite water management, hydrology, climate, monitoring design, implementation and interpretation which are used to differentiate between natural variability and potential mine-derived solutes. The research found that the application of the ANZECC-ARMCANZ guidelines has clearly improved the regulation of water quality protection downstream from the Ranger Uranium Project. The scientific basis is more coherent than the previous regulatory regime; however, for U (a key parameter of indigenous Mirarr-Gundjeihmi and public concern), higher downstream concentrations are permitted than those observed through natural variability, leaving open the potential for an influence of mine-derived U loads while still being within regulatory limits. Another improvement that could be made to the current regulatory regime, to provide enhanced protection of the water quality in Magela Creek downstream of Ranger, would be to explicitly link the water quality monitoring regime with hydrologic flow conditions.
Subject Environmental Engineering not elsewhere classified
Resources Engineering and Extractive Metallurgy not elsewhere classified
Keyword(s) Regulation
Uranium mining
Water management
Water pollution
Water quality
DOI - identifier 10.1007/s11270-010-0592-9
Copyright notice © Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010
ISSN 0049-6979
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