Environmental Impact Assessment
Assessing the impact of more chickens
Murrang Earth Sciences works closely with landholders, and understands the needs to meet both production and environmental goals. We worked with a local free-range poultry enterprise to identify and understand the potential environmental impacts and regulatory requirements associated with a planned expansion of the business. We undertook work to outline and review how the farm business fits within existing regulations. We also considered the benefits this business, following expansion, would provide to both the environment and the community.
Restoring eroded landscapes in south east Australia
During winter and spring 2016, wet weather proved both a boon and bane for properties and developments in the south east of Australia. Murrang Earth Sciences worked with another local consulting company, Soil and Water, to assess erosion damage caused by these rain events for landholders in the region. We found that erosion was a result of insufficient erosion and sediment controls. Our assessments supported landholders to change the way external companies were treating their properties and provided impetus for NSW Environment Protection Authority to become involved.
Assessing the impact of builder's rubble deposits on water quality
The Land Development Agency in the ACT required urgent advice on the potential impact of placing builders rubble in an urban reservoir. Using a source and pathways model, we identified the potential ecosystem risks to water quality and aquatic life of the reservoir and waterways downstream. Our assessment included risks posed by chemicals potentially occurring in the reservoir and its sediment, the impacts of releasing these chemicals by disturbance, and the means of mitigating this. The Environmental Impact Assessment produced was reviewed by a senior reservoir expert from CSIRO.
Working together to evaluate potential contamination of stock dams
In October 2016, a dam potentially contaminated with effluent was breached. The water from this dam flowed into neighbouring dams which were used to water stock. We worked with the landowner to assess the impact of the breached dam on their stock dams. We applied our understanding of environmental chemistry and consulted with our network of experts to deliver the best approach for this assessment. By leveraging our networks, we were able to identify contamination where others had not. We were able to put the contamination into context for the affected landowner, including acting as an expert witness for the case in court.
Disposing of drilling mud and excavated soils
We have partnered with earthworks businesses in Canberra to assess and appropriately classify soil waste slurries (drilling mud) and other solid or liquid waste material generated by non-destructive drilling for disposal. As soil slurries cannot be assessed for disposal as waste using the standard ACT waste classification procedures, we liaise with the ACT Environment and Sustainable Development Directorate on behalf of our clients to appropriately classify and dispose of the material.
Reusing soil waste for improving environmental outcomes
There are a range of wastes that have or potentially have benefit for agricultural production and which may reduce our reliance on synthetic fertilisers. A farming operation in southern New South Wales was interested in reusing drillers mud on their soils. As part of approval procedures, our clients were required to submit an impact assessment to the NSW Environmental Protection Authority. Murrang Earth Sciences designed a study to determine potential chemical and physical impacts of the drilling mud on the soil. We evaluated potential impacts on soil dispersivity, salinity and water holding capacity, and produced a detailed assessment. Our results were reviewed and endorsed by a professional soil chemist before being released to our client.
Data analysis and reporting for contaminated lands assessment
Murrang Earth Sciences completed an eight month long technical placement with the Contaminated Lands team of a major consulting firm in the ACT. Working within a complex reporting and management environment, we enabled the firm to undertake a broader range of data analysis and reporting activities, including delivery of site management plans, a beneficial reuse assessment, remediation action plans, and validation reports.
Understanding the impact of chemicals in the environment
The pathway of chemicals through the environment is complicated. This is because chemicals can move between and interact with soil, plants, rock, sediment, air and water. Throughout 2015 and 2016, Murrang Earth Sciences provided technical advice to a government department as part of a nationally organised expert assessments group. We applied our extensive field knowledge as well as theoretical expertise on how chemicals behave in the environment, to enable our client to better understand the complexities of the problem.