4 Statutory Committees
Supervising Scientist, Darwin, 2005
ISBN 0 642 24395 6
ISSN 0 158-4030
The Supervising Scientist Division participates in, and provides secretariat and administrative support to, two statutory committees. These committees play important roles in facilitating discussion and consultation on environmental protection issues and in providing peer review of the scientific work of the Division.
The Alligator Rivers Region Advisory Committee (ARRAC) was established under the Environment Protection (Alligator Rivers Region) Act 1978 to promote communication between the community and government and industry stakeholders on environmental issues associated with uranium mining in the Alligator Rivers Region.
Professor Charles Webb, Deputy Vice Chancellor (Teaching and Learning) at Charles Darwin University is the chair of ARRAC.
ARRAC offers a valuable forum for stakeholders to exchange views and relevant information on the issues that relate to environmental protection and rehabilitation from the effects of uranium mining.
A key function of ARRAC is to provide transparency in the processes applied to protect the people and environment in the region from the potential impacts of uranium mining.
All material provided to ARRAC becomes public information . Public disclosure of environmental performance data is a useful way to enhance trust within the group, thereby reducing the potential for misinformation. Information that is regularly provided to stakeholders through ARRAC meetings includes a summary and interpretation of monitoring data, periodic environmental reports from the mining companies, and audit outcomes for the mines.
A link to the summary records of previous meetings is available on the ARRAC web site at www.deh.gov.au/ssd/communication/committees/arrac/index.html.
ARRAC met twice in 2004–05: in Jabiru in August 2004 and in Darwin in December 2004. Issues discussed during these meetings included:
- water management projects at Ranger mine;
- Jabiluka long-term care and maintenance strategy;
- reports on the outcomes of investigations into specific events, particularly the 2004 potable water and radiation clearance incidents;
- chemical, biological and radiological monitoring results for the Ranger mine and Jabiluka Project;
- outcomes of environmental audits and assessments of Ranger and Nabarlek mines and the Jabiluka Project;
- radiological monitoring data of workers;
- outcomes of Minesite Technical Committee (MTC) meetings;
- ERA’s progress towards ISO 14001 accreditation;
- reduction of bond for Nabarlek mine rehabilitation;
- draft Key Knowledge Needs document developed by ARRTC;
- status of South Alligator Valley mine rehabilitation.
The Alligator Rivers Region Technical Committee (ARRTC) was established under sections 22A–22F of the Environment Protection (Alligator Rivers Region) Act 1978.
The primary aim of the Committee is to ensure that the quality of the science used in the research into, and assessment of, the protection of the environment from the impacts of uranium mining in the Alligator Rivers Region is of an appropriately high standard. This involves review of research activities by eriss, ERA and other organisations. It also involves the review of the quality of the science used by oss and DBIRD to assess and approve proposals by uranium mining companies in the Alligator Rivers Region.
ARRTC reports openly, independently and without restriction. A link to the outcomes of previous meetings is available on the ARRTC web site at www.deh.gov.au/ssd/communication/committees/arrtc/index.html.
ARRTC is chaired by Professor Barry Hart, the Director of the Water Studies Centre at Monash University, who has specific expertise in w ater quality and management with a focus on environmental chemistry as applied to surface water systems.
ARRTC’s membership is appointed by the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, and consists of:
- Independent scientific members with specific expertise (including ARRTC’s chair), appointed following nomination by the Federation of Australian Scientific and Technical Societies (FASTS);
- Representatives of the Northern Land Council, the Northern Territory Department of Business, Industry and Resource Development, Energy Resources of Australia Ltd (for Ranger and Jabiluka), Hanson Pty Ltd (for Nabarlek), and Parks Australia North;
- The Supervising Scientist.
Dr Jenny Stauber, an ecotoxicologist, was appointed to ARRTC in August 2004 and replaced Professor Douglas Holdway who resigned in April 2004.
Professor Gerald Nanson, one of ARRTC’s independent scientific members, resigned in March 2005. As at 30 June 2005 the vacancy left by Professor Nanson had not been filled, but is expected to be filled during August 2005.
In June 2005 Professor Hart wrote to the Parliamentary Secretary to the Environment and Heritage advising of his intention to resign as ARRTC Chair after the September 2005 meeting. Mr Ray Evans, an existing independent scientific member of ARRTC, was subsequently appointed by the Parliamentary Secretary to succeed Professor Hart.
ARRTC met on 13–15 September 2004 (ARRTC’s fourteenth meeting) and 28 February – 1 March 2005 (ARRTC’s fifteenth meeting).
Both meetings were held in Darwin.
At its meetings ARRTC considered and discussed a wide range of issues, including:
- research activities conducted by eriss and ERA, in the context of the Key Knowledge Needs;
- chemical, biological and radiological monitoring activities being conducted by DBIRD, ERA and the Supervising Scientist;
- Jabiluka issues (with a focus on long-term care and maintenance developments);
- Ranger issues (with a focus on the rehabilitation issues);
- Nabarlek issues (with a focus on rehabilitation and revegetation issues);
- status of South Alligator Valley rehabilitation activities;
- updates from the stakeholders represented at ARRTC.
During 2002–03, ARRTC drafted a series of high level Key Knowledge Needs based on its own assessment of the existing body of scientific knowledge on mining in the Alligator Rivers Region and the issues that are likely to become more important as the Ranger mine moves towards eventual closure and rehabilitation. This is described in further detail in the Supervising Scientist’s 2002–03 Annual Report.
Those Key Knowledge Needs were refined at the ARRTC meetings held in 2003–04, with a final Key Knowledge Needs document being endorsed by members out-of-session following the March 2004 meeting. This document is at Appendix 1 of this Annual Report.
These Key Knowledge Needs are an important input into prioritising and planning future research activities, and will provide the basis for mining-related research activities.