The position of the Supervising Scientist was established under the Commonwealth Environment Protection (Alligator Rivers Region) Act 1978 in response to a recommendation of the Ranger Uranium Environmental Inquiry final report (also known as the Fox Report) in May 1977. This followed the first Ranger Uranium Environmental Inquiry report in 1976.
The first Supervising Scientist, Mr Robert Fry, was appointed on 29th June 1978. The role of the Supervising Scientist is currently held by the Assistant Secretary of the Supervising Scientist Branch (SSB). SSB is part of the Heritage, Reef and Marine Division in the Department. SSB’s office and research/laboratory facility is located in Darwin. SSB also maintains a Field Station at Jabiru, Kakadu National Park, which supports our environmental monitoring program.
Functions of SSB
The Supervising Scientist ensures protection of the Alligator Rivers Region (ARR) from the effects of uranium mining, and does so by undertaking environmental research and developing standards and practices for environmental protection. SSB has four key functions with respect to mining activities in the ARR:
- Undertake research into the environmental effects of uranium mining, and to inform uranium mine rehabilitation.
- Provide a rigorous scientific basis for the development of environmental standards, practices and procedures, including environmental monitoring programs.
- Supervise uranium mining operations, including oversight of the regulatory process, to ensure regulation is adequate, effective and consistent with Commonwealth requirements.
- Assess exploration plans, mining activities and rehabilitation planning and implementation to ensure statutory requirements are achieved.
- Conduct a comprehensive and independent environmental monitoring program to detect effects of uranium mining on people and the environment.
- Provide data to inform the Research and Supervision functions.
- Public Assurance and Advice
- Advise relevant Ministers, regulators, stakeholders and the general public of environmental monitoring outcomes to provide assurance that people and the environment remain protected from uranium mining activities.
- Ensure the relevant Ministers, regulators and stakeholders are informed of environmental risks related to uranium mining operations and rehabilitation, and understand how environmental standards ensure protection.
The Authority to mine uranium at Ranger is issued under s41 of the Atomic Energy Act 1953, which is administered by the Commonwealth Minister for Resources and Northern Australia. The Authority also provides the Commonwealth’s environmental protection conditions, which are set out in the Environmental Requirements of the Commonwealth of Australia for the Operation of Ranger Uranium Mine (the Environmental Requirements). The Environmental Requirements outline key objectives and environmental standards for mining operations and rehabilitation.
Under agreement, regulatory power over uranium mining in the Northern Territory is delegated to the Northern Territory Government and given effect under the Mining Management Act, administered by the Northern Territory Department of Primary Industry and Resources (DPIR). The Supervising Scientist provides independent advice to the regulators, both the Commonwealth Minister for Resources and Northern Australia, and the Northern Territory Minister for Primary Industry and Resources.
Find out more
For more information please contact the Supervising Scientist Branch on:
Phone: +61 8 8920 1100