Quantitative Ecological Risk Assessment of the Magela Creek Floodplain in Kakadu National Park, Australia: Comparing Point Source Risks from the Ranger Uranium Mine to Diffuse Landscape-Scale Risks

Peter Bayliss, Rik Van Dam, R BARTOLO

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The Ranger uranium mine is surrounded by the World Heritage Kakadu National Park, Australia, and is upstream of the Ramsar-listed wetlands of the Magela Creek floodplain. We present the results of a Quantitative Ecological Risk Assessment (QERA) for the floodplain that combines both point source mining risks and diffuse non-mining landscape-scale risks. A high level of protection for the biodiversity of aquatic ecosystems was used as the assessment endpoint. Mining risks in the surface water pathway were assessed for four key mine-associated solutes (uranium, manganese, magnesium, and sulphate), and non-mining landscape-scale risks were assessed for weeds, feral pig damage, unmanaged dry season fire, and saltwater intrusion from potential sea-level rise due to climate change. Results show that non-mining landscape-scale risks are currently several orders of magnitude greater than risks from mine water contaminants. A weed (Para grass; Urocloa mutica) is the major ecological risk because of its extent, effect, and rapid spread rate. The QERA was incorporated into a Bayesian Belief Network to help evaluate different management strategies. We conclude that non-mining landscape-scale risks to the floodplain should receive the same level of close scrutiny and investment as that applied to uranium mining risks.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)115-151
Number of pages37
JournalHuman and Ecological Risk Assessment (HERA)
Volume18
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2012
Externally publishedYes

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