Ecotoxicology

Industries located near the ocean often produce or utilise large volumes of fluids requiring disposal. Before the disposal of these products is approved, regulators need to be convinced that disposal is conducted in an environmentally safe manner.

Ecotoxicology studies can develop triggers below which whole effluent may be considered safe in an area, or be used in modelling to predict the an area as ‘environment that may be affected’ (EMBA). Typically studies involve Whole Effluent Toxicity (WET) testing in controlled laboratories, but this may be circumvented where the toxicity of chemical mixtures applicable for the region has been published by authorised sources.

MScience can provide assistance in evaluating the likely ecotoxicity of discharges from both reference to their component chemicals or WET testing. We offer a full service from field to finish, so if a client is unsure of the process we can advise what is required and how to proceed; alternatively clients may wish to select from specific services offered below:

  • collect water samples and dilution water
  • freight of samples
  • selection of test species
  • management of 3rd party laboratory services
  • analysis of results for trigger development and reporting
  • also offer follow-up services to assist interpretation, chemical selection, or insertion into EPs or larger documents

Projects

For a number of recent projects, we have:

  • Evaluated the toxicity of various hydrotest fluid preparations used in flooding, cleaning, gauging (FCG), and integrity tests of pipelines to advise on the environmental performance for chemical selection
  • Developed environmental triggers for a hydrotest fluid for application to platform discharge and programs to monitor trigger compliance – assistance in defining the EMBA.
  • Prepared the FCG and hydrotest discharge components in formal Environment Plans

Technical Information

In 2000, the National Water Quality Management Strategy was developed, combining the work of the Australian and New Zealand Environment and Conservation Council (ANZECC) and the Agriculture and Resource Management Council of Australia and New Zealand (ARMCANZ); this document is commonly referred to as ANZECC & ARMCANZ (2000). Since then, this document has represented the primary source for water quality management for projects within Australia. This document also contains guidelines for WET testing and the application to discharges into Australian waters.

Currently in Australia the requirements for industrial ecotoxicity testing are relatively new, however regulators have recognised the importance of these evaluations at regional levels and are increasingly requesting proponents undertake these assessments prior to approval. MScience has a good understanding of the historical developments of the industry, the ANZECC and ARMCANZ guidelines for sampling and assessment, and the BurrliOz software advocated by ANZECC and ARMCANZ for use in trigger determination.

There are three critical phases for ecotoxicity assessments for industrial application, field sample collection (site based), laboratory assessment and interpretation of data. The correct process needs to be followed through each of these phases to ensure successful project delivery.

Field – within the field the primary consideration is that of sample quality and integrity. Our field staff are highly experienced in the collection of quality assured water samples using ANZECC and ARMCANZ methods. Our understanding of sample holding times, field and freight structures and our strong chain of custody management, ensures timely delivery of quality assured products.

Laboratory work – MScience contracts third party providers to undertake the species specific toxicity tests where laboratories are managed under our sub-contractor management system. MScience provides direction to the laboratories as to which species and tests to conduct for each project; choosing the wrong suite of species or tests can result in approval hold ups or rejections. During our work in this industry we have developed a solid working relationship with Ecotox Services Australasia (ESA), one of the largest and most trusted providers of ecotoxicity services in Australia.

Data Interpretation – this where the importance of our understanding of toxicology, regulatory requirements and operational needs comes to the fore. Proper presentation of the correct data for project specific outcomes is imperative to increasing the chances of first time approval, in addition, through our understanding of the process we may be able to avoid the initiation of potentially costly and unnecessary tests. We are highly experienced in using the ANZECC & ARMCANZ methods for trigger derivation and have further developed these methods for application to chronic and acute discharge regimes. We have successfully worked with modellers in several projects to apply the environmental triggers into a geographical model of the EMBA, further required for approval of offshore discharges.