September 16, 2015 by Graham Merrington

I was in Jakarta this week with Chris Schlekat of NiPERA for meetings on Bioavailability-based Methods to Assess the Potential Environmental Risks of Nickel in Southeast Asia and Melanesia. Separate meetings were held with the Indonesian Ministry of the Environment representatives and with local representatives from Vale and Eramet. Discussion here focussed on risk-based regulation and implementation of bioavailability-based approaches and in particular how they could be meshed with the concept of “carrying capacity” a key tenet of Indonesian environmental regulation.

There followed a day and half meeting of Vale and Eramet representatives, NiPERA and researchers from Australia and Hong Kong to assess progress in the development of an ERA for nickel mining and processing in the tropics. While considerable research has been undertaken in north America and Europe on nickel fate and behaviour, how relevant are those methods to the tropics? Ross Smith of Hydrobiology and Jenny Stauber of CSIRO have collated and synthesised exposure and aquatic effects data respectively for the region. There are some very specific ecosystems and aquatic species that are only found in the tropics and as risk assessors they present a unique challenge.

This project has at least a year to run and wca will be performing a probabilistic based risk assessment once the first phase exposure and effects data collection have been completed.