Environmental Monitoring

Environmental Monitoring at the Port of Esperance

The Port of Esperance undertakes an extensive range of environmental monitoring on a regular basis. Monitored data is interrogated to identify trends and implement proactive environmental management.

Monitoring data is assessed through comparison to relevant environmental legislation that includes criteria listed in the operating licence.


ANNUAL MONITORING REPORTS
 

ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY REPORTS

AIR QUALITY

NOISE

SEDIMENT

Following detection of high lead and nickel levels in sediments near a discharge pipe in early 2007 a sampling and analysis plan was developed to determine the spatial pattern of contamination in sediments (Stage 1 Report). The spatial pattern of nickel and lead contamination was localised to Berths 1 and 2. Subsequent studies have found the lead to be potentially bioavailable (Stage 2) but further testing indicated the sediments were not toxic to early life stages and the growth of several sensitive species of marine biota (Stage 3). However, the high level of contamination led to the current operating licence requiring the Port to monitor the marine sediments on an annual basis with the first report due in December 2011.

WEATHER

Weather data is interrogated with environmental monitoring data in order to interpret results eg was wind blowing from the port towards environmental monitoring equipment at the time of sampling.

The wind direction varies greatly between seasons and in particular between summer and winter. Summer is dominated by south-easterly winds and winter is dominated by north-westerly winds.

Port of Esperance - Winter Wind Rose
Port of Esperance - Winter Wind Rose
Port of Esperance - Summer Wind Rose
Port of Esperance - Summer Wind Rose

 

 

 

 

 

 

How has the Ports emissions of nickel changed over different loading practices?

Since 2008 the Port has conducted monitoring of nickel dust on the border of the Port (Sites 1 to 4) and in the community (Site 5) to assess emissions associated with the handling activities of nickel concentrates. The annual air quality reports on this website provide further detail, including a map of the monitoring sites.

Port loading controls of nickel concentrates have improved greatly since 2008, and have undergone the following changes:

nickel_timeline_poe

A baseline of nickel respirable dust in the graph below shows how emissions were affected by these changes in loading controls.

The baseline of respirable nickel dust across the different loading techniques shows:

  • The limited loading controls used in the original handling method caused two measurements to exceed the Ports Operating Licence limit in 2008, were reported to the environmental regulator that triggered the implementation of a wind loading arc;
  • The implementation of a wind loading arc (loading in offshore winds only) in 2008 and improved product quality management led to a drop in emissions to such an extent they were comparable to emissions from the fully containerised operations introduced in June 2012.
  • Despite the measures introduced between December 2008 and June 2012, offshore emissions of nickel dust to the marine environment were not acceptable. Containerisation meant ships were able to be loaded in any winds and were considered a more sustainable method of loading. The disadvantage of using containers was the cost of shipping back empty containers and the receival Port having a facility to unload containers, when bulk was the preferred form of receipt to remain competitive.
  • The development of container tipper systems led to a low emission and cost-effective alternative to the more traditional bulk loading practices. As shown below, loading of nickel concentrates in all winds using this technique has produced emissions comparable to the previous fully containerised operation, and are well below the limit of the Port’s Operating Licence.

The Port, our client and the stevedores are all driven to keep the loading controls at their high standard and ensure this is a sustainable line of business moving forward.

nickel_2016to2019_plot

Note that between 2008 and 2016 nickel was measured on total dust. From 2016 respirable dust was also measured on the recommendation of the State Government environmental and health regulators, as this is more related to potential health risks. To achieve one single baseline the plotted data before 2016 was transformed to respirable nickel dust based on the ratio of nickel on total dust : respirable nickel between 2016 and 2019, when both measurement techniques were conducted using paired monitors at all monitoring sites.