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.





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 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













Southern Ports – Esperance has received formal approval from the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation to export nickel from the port.

The decision follows extensive planning over a five year period to demonstrate that the current conditions on Southern Ports’ license to operate, effectively manages the loading of nickel with only minor additional sampling required.

HSES Environment Manager Alex Leonard stated:

“Achieving approval is a welcome development and has resulted from three years of extensive data gathering of levels of respirable nickel, which was measured on the boundary of the port and the town. The charts below show levels over five times below the requirements of the Western Australian Department of Health.

Southern Ports’ license allows the ongoing export of nickel sulphide and copper sulphide (up to 1.1 Million Tonnes per Annum) subject to strict loading controls on product quality and a highly contained loading system. Containment is achieved by using a misting system in the ships hold and a rotating container loading system.

Southern Ports has worked in close partnership with IGO and Qube to achieve this outcome and ensure this trade was approved. We will continue to maintain strict loading controls to ensure the community and the environment are fully protected and the region continues to enjoy the benefits of this trade.”

Nickel Monitoring at the Port of Esperance