ACARP ACARP ACARP ACARP
Open Cut

Assessing The Ecotoxicology Of Salinity On Organisms In Seasonally Flowing Streams In The Fitzroy Catchment

Open Cut » Environment

Published: November 11Project Number: C18033

Get ReportAuthor: Rajesh Prasad, Sue Vink, Reinier Mann, Vinitha Nanjappa and Satish Choy | The University of Queensland, Department of Environment and Resource Management

Stage One Report: Development Of Ecosystem Protection Trigger Values For Sodium Sulfate In Seasonally Flowing Streams Of The Fitzroy River Basin

Coal mines in the Bowen Basin have reduced freshwater consumption by implementing water re-use in operations. This has resulted in overall increased salinity of water stored on sites.  Sulfate is often associated with this water but few studies have elucidated the impacts of sulfate on aquatic organisms making it difficult to set criteria for mine water discharge.  There are currently no ecosystem protection trigger values for sulfate in Queensland or elsewhere in Australia. This study has developed the first locally relevant ecosystem protection trigger values for sulfate in the Fitzroy River Basin.

The surface water chemistry present in the Fitzroy River Basin was analysed to define a representative water type for toxicity assessment. A standard suite of toxicity tests were used to assess the potential toxicity of sulfate and a species sensitivity distribution was derived from this data to define protective concentrations. The concentration of sulfate that should theoretically be protective of 95% of species in the receiving ecosystem was estimated to be 770 mg/L and the concentration of sulfate that should theoretically protect 99% of species in the receiving ecosystem was estimated to be 620 mg/L. This study provides a significant advance in scientific understanding of the potential environmental impacts of sulfate in the Fitzroy River Basin and will help improve licensing and water quality management.

Stage Two Report: Assessing The Ecotoxicology Of Salinity On Organisms In Seasonally Flowing Streams In The Fitzroy Catchment

The level of salinity that various aquatic organisms can tolerate without incurring any adverse effects is dependent on several environmental and evolutionary factors. These factors might include, for instance, the relative concentrations of different types of dissolved salts in the water that makes up their habitat, the regimes to which organisms are exposed to waters of differing salinity levels (including naturally derived variations), the degree to which an organism's life history stages have adapted to salinity, an organism's ability or behaviour to avoid adverse levels of salinity, and an organism's capacity for osmoregulation. When dissolved in water, various types of salts exist in the form of anions and cations, and the composition of all ions in the water is referred to as ionic composition. As a consequence of environmental and evolutionary factors, it can be expected that different taxa can exhibit a wide range of potential responses to changes in salinity. In addition, the relative sensitivity of organisms belonging to the same taxon to salinity may vary even on a regional basis, adding a further level of specificity to the issue. Consequently, while the currently available information on salinity-related toxicity can be applied to broadly limit the impacts of saline mine water releases on freshwater ecosystems, there is insufficient specific information that considers the ionic composition of waters to develop guidelines appropriate for numerous distinct regions. Mine waters can be of different ionic compositions and different EC's which in turn can have bearing on their toxicity.

The primary aim of this project was to produce data and gather information on the tolerances of freshwater macroinvertebrates from Fitzroy Catchment to saline mine water, that could potentially be utilised for developing guidelines for mine water discharge in the Fitzroy Catchment. The secondary aim was to assess the influence of ionic compositions on saline mine water toxicity, and to use the information to consider possible amelioration of toxicity in mine water discharge.

The objectives of the study were:

· To conduct acute toxicological tests to determine the tolerances of aquatic macroinvertebrates from a section of the Fitzroy Catchment, to saline solutions those were representative of ionic compositions of mine waters;

· To undertake acute and chronic toxicity tests on representative mine waters ionic compositions using a standard suite of commercially available taxa;

· To determine if ionic composition influenced the toxicity of mine waters.

To achieve the first stage of the study, macroinvertebrates were sourced from Nebo Creek, located in the north-west section of the basin. The two main families tested included Leptophlebiidae and Baetidae (Class: Insecta; Order: Ephemeroptera). The tests were conducted using two representative mine water types diluted with an artificial creek water. The commercial testing experiments were conducted according to the testing procedures recommended in the national water quality guidelines. For both testing regimes mine water compositions were based on a survey of mine water from ten mines in the Fitzroy Catchment. To assess the influence of ionic compositions, the salinity tolerances of taxa were compared using two different types of artificial mine waters.

A significant data set was obtained describing the sensitivity of macroinvertebrates to mine waters. Comparison of salinity tolerance of various macroinvertebrate families showed one artificial mine water type being slightly more toxic than the other. Further comparison of artificial mine water tolerance to marine salts, showed mine waters to be more toxic. However, the comparison between mine salts tolerance and marine salts tolerance may not be sufficiently valid as the macroinvertebrates tested with marine salts were not from the same location or region as those tested with mine salts. No previous experiments have been conducted using marine salts with macroinvertebrates collected from the Fitzroy Catchment.  While some past studies have reported that salinity tolerance of the same taxon from separate locations can be different, one recent study showed that tolerance to sulfates were similar in macroinvertebrates from Fitzroy Catchment and south-east Queensland.

The differences in toxicity between the two mine water types (and possibly marine salts) could be attributed to the different ionic compositions. Even though toxicity is influenced by ionic composition and interaction between ions, the measure of salinity would continue to be an effective guideline, as it is easy to measure in the field and easily used to monitor the water conditions in situ. Hence, a salinity based trigger value remains useful.

The 95% ecosystem protection toxicant trigger value calculated from species sensitivity distribution derived from the commercial tests was estimated to be 2.0 mS/cm. For the protection of 99% of the species the salinity has to be reduced by more than 50% to 0.9  mS/cm. These trigger values are consistent with the lower range of previously published toxicological and other effects data on relevant aquatic species. This is with the exception of biomonitoring studies in southern Australia which have demonstrated declining macroinvertebrate taxa richness when salinity increases above 0.5 mS/cm (for macroinvertebrates) or above 0.05 mS/cm (for PET taxa - Plecoptera, Ephemeroptera and Trichoptera). The disparity between indices of short-term toxicity obtained in toxicity tests and indices of taxa richness obtained in field monitoring warrants further research to better understand how increases in salinity affects ecosystems as a whole.. The trigger values determined from toxicological testing should be compared to biomonitoring data as more field data becomes available.

The toxicant trigger values derived from this study can be used to inform the regulation of mine water releases where aquatic ecosystem toxicity from salinity is the primary issue of concern. This could be particularly relevant for management of mixing zones and near-field impacts (such has traditionally been the case with Transitional Environmental Programs (TEP's)) and where cumulative impacts on aquatic ecosystems or other environmental values are not a major concern.

An e-newsletter has also been published for this project, highlighting its significance for the industry.

Underground

Health and safety, productivity and environment initiatives.

Recently Completed Projects

C27039True Triaxial Strength Of Coal Measure Rocks And Its Impact On Roadway Stability And Coal Burst Assessment

Rocks in the ground are subject to a range of stresses. The stresses...

C3063Underground Vehicle Design Standards And Statutory Implications

The Australian underground diesel vehicle fleet has evolved since di...

C3064Conveyor Belting And Lagging Shear Characteristics - Drive Drum Slip

The primary aim of this project was to investigate the relationsh...

Underground

Open Cut

Safety, productivity and the right to operate are priorities for open cut mine research.

Recently Completed Projects

C29021Assessing The Impact Of Consecutive Night Shifts On Night-Time Alertness, Daytime Sleep And Timing Of The Circadian System

In the Australian coal mining industry, most guidelines for managing...

C33037Quantifying Recharge To Groundwater Systems In The NSW Coalfields (Sydney, Gunnedah And Gloucester Basins)

The purpose of this project was to estimate the rate of diffuse rec...

C26029Geological Controls On Fluorine And Phosphorus In Bowen Basin Coals

Increasing global restrictions on fluorine in product coal prompted ...

Open Cut

Coal Preparation

Maximising throughput and yield while minimising costs and emissions.

Recently Completed Projects

C27064Dry Beneficiation Using FGX And X-Ray Sorters

Conventional dry processing methods engage a single beneficiation de...

C26010Multi-Sloped Screening Efficiency With Changing Strokes, Frequencies, Feed Solids And Feed Rates-Pilot Plant Study

Optimising multi-sloped screens is often described as an art and the...

C28059Impact Of Water Quality In Coal Handling And Preparations Plants

The objective of this project was to deliver a concise reference do...

Coal Preparation

Technical Market Support

Market acceptance and emphasising the advantages of Australian coals.

Technical Market Support

Mine Site Greenhouse Gas Mitigation

Mitigating greenhouse gas emissions from the production of coal.

Recently Completed Projects

C23052Novel Stone Dust Looping Process For Ventilation Air Methane Abatement

This multi‐phase project is concerned with the mitigation of m...

C27054Optimisation Of A Thermal Flow Reversal Reactor For Ventilation Air Methane Mitigation

Ventilation air methane (VAM) generally accounts for 50-85% of the t...

C28076Selective Absorption Of Methane By Ionic Liquids (SAMIL) - Phase 2 Demonstration In A Packed Bed Reactor

An alternative approach to high temperature oxidation of ventilation...

Mine Site Greenhouse Gas Mitigation

Low Emission Coal Use

Step-change technologies aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Recently Completed Projects

C17060BGasification Of Australian Coals

Four Australian coals were trialled in the Siemens 5 MWth pilot scale ga...

C17060AOxyfuel Technology For Carbon Capture And Storage Critical Clean Coal Technology - Interim Support

The status of oxy-fuel technology for first-generation plant is indicate...

C18007Review Of Underground Coal Gasification

This report consists of a broad review of underground coal gasification,...

Low Emission Coal Use

Mining And The Community

The relationship between mines and the local community.

Recently Completed Projects

C16027Assessing Housing And Labour Market Impacts Of Mining Developments In Bowen Basin Communities

The focus of this ACARP-funded project has been to identify a number...

C22029Understanding And Managing Cumulative Impacts Of Coal Mining And Other Land Uses In Regions With Diversified Economies

The coal industry operates in the context of competing land-uses that sh...

C23016Approval And Planning Assessment Of Black Coal Mines In NSW And Qld: A Review Of Economic Assessment Techniques

This reports on issues surrounding economic assessment and analysis ...

Mining And The Community

NERDDC

National Energy Research,Development & Demonstration Council (NERDDC) reports - pre 1992.

Recently Completed Projects

1609-C1609Self Heating of Spoil Piles from Open Cut Coal Mines

Self Heating of Spoil Piles from Open Cut Coal Mines

1301-C1301Stress Control Methods for Optimised Development...

Stress Control Methods for Optimised Development and Extraction Operations

0033-C1356Commissioned Report: Australian Thermal Coals...

Commissioned Report: Australian Thermal Coals - An Industry Handbook

NERDDC