Ecosystem-based assessment and management of marine and estuarine systems at the Queensland Nickel Yabulu Refinery, Townsville

Connor, Ron, Milsom, John, Melzer, Alistair, Butler, Barry M., Faithful, John W., Dennison, William, Lloyd, Trevor, and Swaine, Greg (2003) Ecosystem-based assessment and management of marine and estuarine systems at the Queensland Nickel Yabulu Refinery, Townsville. In: Protecting the Values of Rivers, Wetlands and the Reef. From: 2nd National Conference on Aquatic Environments: Sustaining our Aquatic Environments - Implementing Solutions, 20 - 23 November 2001, Townsville, QLD, Australia.

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Abstract

Queensland Nickel Pty Ltd (QNPL) operate the Yabulu Refinery, located on a 2464 hectare land holding on the north Queensland tropical coast adjacent to Halifax Bay, approximately 30 km north west of Townsville. The coastal fringe separating the refinery area from the bay consists of mangrove areas, marshes and sand dunes. Since 1975, excess wastewaters from the refinery have been intermittently discharged via an ocean outfall pipeline extending 1.8 km into Halifax Bay. Since 1997, QNPL have completed a comprehensive Environmental Assessment and Management (EA&M) Program which includes the monitoring of the health of several aquatic ecosystems by considering both ecological and physio-chemical indicators of environmental quality. In undertaking the program, QNPL aim to achieve best management practice by understanding the impacts of the Yabulu refinery on its local environment and managing the environmental impacts appropriately. Results of the EA&M Program to date have identified impacts to Halifax Bay due to the ocean discharge of wastewaters and impacts to estuary ecosystems due to changes in hydrology. Monitoring of ecosystem health in Halifax Bay has found that despite ocean discharge practices, no appreciable impact on ecosystem health measures can be determined nor are elevated levels of contaminants found in fauna tissue samples of biota encrusted around the discharge pylon. Monitoring of estuaries within the coastal fringe did, however, identify that ecosystem health had been affected by refinery activities. The monitoring results indicated that impacts were due to changes in hydrologic conditions such as channel morphology. Remedial works to minimise and remove hydrologic changes are addressing these impacts. This paper describes the EA&M Program and its incorporation into both the strategic and day-to-day environmental planning and management of the refinery operations. In doing so, the paper will discuss how QNPL plan to manage their operations using information gathered from the annual ecological assessment program, environmental assessment programs and stakeholder input.

Item ID: 7815
Item Type: Conference Item (Refereed Research Paper - E1)
Keywords: land management; monitoring; Queensland Nickel Refinery
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Department of Natural Resources & Mines

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ISBN: 0-7345-2463-3
Date Deposited: 25 Jan 2010 01:22
FoR Codes: 05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050209 Natural Resource Management @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9609 Land and Water Management > 960999 Land and Water Management of Environments not elsewhere classified @ 100%
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