This PhD project aims to conduct a series of laboratory tests with material from the industry partner to understand the chemical and physical characteristics of a range of scales or residues from within offshore infrastructure (containing Contaminants of Primary Concern; COPC), their solubility in seawater and acidic solutions (i.e. to mimic the solubility in an organisms’ gut) and compare the results against environmental guidelines as well as conducting desktop biota dose modelling for comparison against international benchmarks where relevant. While there are national water and sediment quality guidelines in place in Australia to provide protection levels for Australian marine biota (i.e. ANZG 2018), these guidelines do not cover Naturally Occurring Radioactive Materials (NORMs). Furthermore, the toxicological effects from NORMs on marine ecosystems, specifically Australian faunal species, have not been adequately investigated (ARPANSA, 2004).
The project will then seek to conduct controlled laboratory bioaccumulation exposures to a range of Australian marine fauna, including where possible, commercially-relevant species. It is crucial to understand the specific bioaccumulation potential of scale associated contaminants to Australian marine biota in order to determine whether any risk is associated with such exposure to these contaminants.