This is an HTML version of an attachment to the Freedom of Information request 'EPBC Referral submissions - BHP Billiton Olympic Dam tailings dam wall height increase'.

FOI 170107 
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FOI 170107 
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FOI 170107 
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Assessment Officer
South West Section
West Assessment Branch
Department of the Environment
GPO Box 787 Canberra, ACT 2601
Phone: 02 6275 s22

FOI 170107 
Document 3a

FOI 170107 
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EPBC Referral 2015/7416 
2 February 2015 
West Assessment Branch  
Department of the Environment  
GPO Box 787 
I refer to your letter of 12 January 2015 to the Minister for Health, the Hon Peter Dutton MP, 
inviting comment on referral (EPBC 2015/7416) - Olympic Dam - increasing wall height of 
tailings storage facility (TSF4), as lodged by BHP Billiton Olympic Dam Corporation 
Pty Ltd. This matter falls within the portfolio responsibility of the Assistant Minister for 
Health, Senator the Hon Fiona Nash.  The Assistant Minister has asked me to reply on her 
The purpose of this communication is to provide information relevant to the assessment as to 
whether the proposed action is likely to have significant impact on any matters protected 
under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Act 1999 (the EPBC Act). 
The existing operation at Olympic Dam, comprising of an underground mine, mineral 
processing plant, tailings storage facilities and associated infrastructure, is considered a 
“nuclear action” under Section 22(1) of the EPBC Act 1. The proposed action by the 
proponent will be incorporated into this existing controlled operation. 
The proposed action is to increase the tailings storage capacity of the existing tailings cell, 
Tailings Storage Facility number 4 (TSF4), for an additional five years. TSF4 is expected to 
reach its current design height of 30 metres by December 2017. The proposed action would 
increase the wall height to 40 metres for the continued storage of tailings produced from the 
existing process plant.  
The proponent has determined that the increase in the wall height of TSF4 is not expected to 
result in any change to the level of environmental radiological emissions or to individual 
occupational exposure. However, in the referral documentation, the proponent does not 
provide clear evidence on how it has derived these conclusions.  
The proponent states that it has well established processes in place to monitor environmental 
risks, including radioactive waste. Control of these risks is defined in a Tailings Retention 
System Management Plan and a Tailings Retention System Operation, maintenance and 
1 Section 22(1) of the EPBC Act defines a “nuclear action” as involving the “mining or milling of uranium ore;” 
and/or the establishment of or significant modifications to a “large-scale disposal facility for radioactive waste” 
E-mail: [email address] 
PO Box 655, MIRANDA   NSW   1490 
Phone:  +61 2  9541 8333,  Fax:  +61 2  9541 8314 
Freecall: 1800 022 333 (a free call from fixed phones in Australia) 
619 Lower Plenty Road, YALLAMBIE   VIC   3085 
Phone :  +61 3  9433 2211,  Fax:  +61 3  9432 1835 
3-5 National Circuit, BARTON  ACT  2600 
Phone:  +61 2  6141 4891 

surveillance manual. The proponent states that it applies independent annual auditing to 
ensure that the required controls are being implemented correctly and regular monitoring will 
track any changes in the embankments of TSF4. 
In addition the proponent states that its Rehabilitation and Closure Plan for the Olympic Dam 
Operation will be updated to reflect the changes (if any) required by an increase in the height 
of TSF4. 
As the TSF4 wall raise is a continuation of existing operational procedures and contained 
within the existing Olympic Dam site, measures to avoid or reduce impacts are based on 
those that have already been successfully implemented and managed by the proponent since 
operations began.  
The proponent has discussed several alternatives to raising the wall of TSF4. One of these is 
a new tailings cell. The reasons for rejecting this alternative are given as: 
•  increased environmental impacts resulting from land clearing and greater surface area 
of tailings; and 
•  significant capital cost. 
However, the proponent then asserts that increasing the design height of TSF4 delays the 
requirement for an additional tailings cell by approximately five years. At this time these 
problems will have to be overcome anyway. 
There is no mention in the referral of proposed measures to mitigate the effects of overflow 
resulting from heavy rainfall events. 
An operation of this type always has the potential to have a significant impact on the 
environment. The documentation provided to us does not contain enough quantitative 
information to advise definitively on the likelihood of significant impact on the environment. 
Please contact s22
on (03) 943 s22or if you have any 
questions regarding this matter. 
Yours sincerely 
Professor Peter Johnston 
Acting CEO of ARPANSA 
Page 2 of 2  

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FW: Invitation to comment on Referral - (EPBC 2015/7416) Increasing the wall height of Tailings Storage
Facility 4 (TSF4) Olympic Dam, SA [SEC=UNCLASSIFIED]
Monday, 19 January 2015 1:59:18 PM
Sent: Monday, 19 January 2015 1:40 PM
To: s22
Subject: RE: Invitation to comment on Referral - (EPBC 2015/7416) Increasing the wall height of
Tailings Storage Facility 4 (TSF4) Olympic Dam, SA [SEC=UNCLASSIFIED]
Hi s22
No comment from Defence about this referral.
Environment Protection and Assessment
Environment and Engineering Branch
Defence Support Group
Phone: 02 6266s22 Email
P Please consider the environment before printing
IMPORTANT: This email remains the property of the Department of Defence and is subject to the
jurisdiction of section 70 of the Crimes Act 1914. If you have received this email in error, you are
requested to contact the sender and delete the email.
From: EPBC Referrals [mailto:[email address]] 
Sent: Friday, 9 January 2015 16:46
Subject: Invitation to comment on Referral - (EPBC 2015/7416) Increasing the wall height of
Tailings Storage Facility 4 (TSF4) Olympic Dam, SA [SEC=UNCLASSIFIED]
Good afternoon
We are sending you the attached link to a referral received for consideration under the Environment
Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) for your comments, as it falls within
your area of interest:
Proposal is within 10 kilometres of Woomera Weapons Range
Any comment should be sent by 23 January 2015 via:
by letter        s22

                        South West Assessment Branch
                        Department of the Environment
                        GPO Box 787
                        CANBERRA  ACT 2601
by email           s22
by fax               (02) 6274 1620
Formal notification has been sent in the postal mail.
Referrals Gateway Section
Queensland & Sea Dumping Assessment Branch
Department of the Environment 

FOI 170107 
Document 5