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Environment Australia, May 2002
ISBN 0 6425 4831 5
Dredging in Australian waters involves a range of sediments, which vary from coarse to fine, clean to contaminated. In areas remote from pollution sources, capital and maintenance dredging programs are likely to generate uncontaminated dredge spoil. In ports and harbours adjacent to urbanised or industrialised areas, sediments may contain high levels of contamination from heavy metals and a variety of organic compounds.
These Guidelines provide a national framework to assess the environmental impacts from the disposal at sea of dredged material. These build upon and replace the approach incorporated in the Australian and New Zealand Environment and Conservation Council Interim Ocean Disposal Guidelines, December 1998 (the ANZECC Guidelines).
These Guidelines are intended to provide consistent standards and criteria for assessment of ocean disposal proposals and minimise uncertainty for applicants about the level of investigation and assessment required. These Guidelines will also facilitate better decision making by the determining authority by improving the quality of information upon which risk assessment and impact analysis is based.
Prior to the ANZECC Guidelines, contamination assessment of marine sediments focused almost entirely on chemical testing, with limited or no toxicity or bioavailability testing. These Guidelines recognise the importance of these tests for determining the environmental impacts associated with dredging and sea disposal of contaminated sediments and incorporate recent developments in this field in Australia and overseas.