Disposal of mining waste in the sea may affect the quality and safety of seafood from the area. Such interference may result from a) environmental contaminants, which may be either added to or released from the deposited material, and/or b) mechanical destruction of life at the storage site.
We reckon on that the copper mine in Repparfjord, operated by Nussir ASA at Kvaløya/Hammerfest in Kvalsund municipality, Finnmark, will get the permission to establish a sea waste deposit site. It is planned to deposit 1-2 million tons finely ground rock annually. The material is rich in copper, nickel and chromium. The deposition proposal is currently examined at the Norwegian Environment Agency. Furthermore, permission has been given to deposit fineground material from the Engbø mountain, where Rutilmining is planned by Nordic mining ASA, into the Førdefjord in Sogn/Fjordane. Significant commercial fishery is taking place in the concerned area.
It is important to start the analysis of seafood organisms before deposition will be started to achieve data about background values. Thereby, it will be possible to differentiate between the fraction of environmental toxins occurring in the area for different reasons, and the fraction that results from the deposit. We now have the chance to carry out local baseline studies before deposition starts. With such background data, we will be able to evaluate direct effects of the deposition. We expect disposal within a few years. It is therefore important to start baseline analyses as soon as possible.
We will analyze the levels of heavy metals in seafood organisms before mining waste from the copper mine/Nussir ASA will be deposited in the Repparfjord. Sampling will be lead by the Institute of Marine Research/Bergen, both in the Repparfjord, the disposal site, and in Revsbotn, a neighboring fjord, as a control. From both stations, we wish to quantify e.g. copper, nickel, chromium, lead, mercury and cadmium in liver and fillet of saithe, cod, haddock and flatfish (plaice, maybe common dab), and filet of brown trout, claw muscle of king crab and Icelandic cyprine. Our goal is to establish a timeline over a few years before deposition, and then follow up the changes after the deposit site will have been established. The species are chosen because they represent important seafood from different trophic levels and different levels of the water column.
The Institute of Marine Research (Jan Helge Fosså, Sonnich Meier, Terje van der Meeren) will also analyze the population of several species and several parameters of the water column in that area, the latter in collaboration with NIVA (Christopher Harman). UiB (Audrey Geffen) will analyze heavy metals in otoliths in a timeline.
In the Førdefjord, we are planning a small baseline study og undesired substances, including heavy metals and dioxins, in the seafood species cod, blue mussles and shrimps, financed by the Norwegian Food Safety Authority, in the frame of the research program “Forurensede Havner og Fjorder”. We wish to complement this study by establishing a method to quantify nanoparticles in mussels, using the mussels from this study, as much of the deposited material will be in nanoparticle size, which can be taken up by muscles, may increase accumulation of cadmium and dioxins and cause oxidative stress in the organism.