Case Studies

Townsville Ocean Terminal - Case Study

Project Demonstrates

  • Ambient air quality monitoring provides a means of assessing the on-going compliance of an operation with the relevant air quality goals.
  • Dispersion modelling provides a means for both the regulators and the proponents of a project to assess the potential implications of future development on existing air quality and, where ambient air quality monitoring data is not available, assess the potential impacts of existing emitting uses (eg industrial operations).


The Townsville Ocean Terminal (TOT) Project was proposed to incorporate residential, tourism and commercial uses as well as providing a cruise terminal and wharf. The project site was to be located on reclaimed land adjacent to the existing Townsville foreshore and was to incorporate the existing Port Western Breakwater and the Northern (Offshore) Breakwater, the existing perimeter of the land around the Townsville Hotel and Casino Complex and the Townsville Entertainment Centre.

The proximity of the site to the existing Townsvile Port meant that the assessment of air quality impacts on the development needed to demonstrate that both the Port and proposed development would be able to coexist. Achieving acceptable air quality for the development was necessary, from both a health risk and an amenity perspective.

Air Noise Environment was commissioned by the proponent to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Project in accordance with the Terms of Reference for the assessment. The assessment undertaken included a number of aspects including:

  • review of existing ambient air quality and meteorological monitoring undertaken by the Queensland Environment Protection Agency (EPA) and Townsville Port Authority (TPA) in the region;
  • continuous monitoring of ambient oxides of nitrogen (NO, NO2, NOx), sulphur dioxide (SO2), hydrocarbons (methane and non-methane) at a single location to supplement the existing monitoring data collected by the port authority and EPA;
  • monitoring of dust deposition (including heavy metals deposition) at five locations;
  • preparation of emissions estimates for future port uses;
  • prognostic meteorological modelling for the Townsville region; and
  • prediction of potential air quality impacts for future port operations.

Air Quality Monitoring

Air quality monitoring was undertaken by Air Noise Environment for up to 12 months in accordance with the following Australian Standards:

  • AS 3580.10.1 (2003) Methods for sampling and analysis of ambient air - Determination of particulate matter - Deposited matter - Gravimetric method.
  • AS 3580.11.1-1993 Methods for sampling and analysis of ambient air - Determination of volatile organic compounds - Methane and non-methane volatile organic compounds - Direct-reading instrumental method.
  • AS 3580.4.1-1990 Methods for sampling and analysis of ambient air - Determination of sulfur dioxide - Direct reading instrumental method.
  • AS 3580.5.1-1993 Methods for sampling and analysis of ambient air - Determination of oxides of nitrogen - Chemiluminescence method.

Ambient air quality monitoring data collected was correlated against ship movements to determine the potential impact of ship movements within the port on the Project Site.

Meteorological Modelling

For the assessment of emissions from the Project, the development of a suitable meteorological dataset was particularly important due to the complex meteorological conditions present in the region. This was complicated by the absence of three-dimensional meteorological datasets for the region, with only surface meteorology and some limited upper air meteorological parameters measured.

Given this, the development of a meteorological dataset for the assessment required the reliance on a prognostic meteorological model. Prognostic models, such as TAPM, allow the development of localised meteorological datasets, based on synoptic weather conditions. The model predicts the regional flows important to dispersion, such as sea breezes and terrain-induced flows, against a background of larger-scale meteorology provided by synoptic analyses.

The output of this model, when used with a diagnostic meteorological model, such as Calmet, provides a meteorological dataset, capable of considering the complex flow fields such as the sea breeze circulation with return flow aloft. These features are not likely to be represented in the available observational data.

This method was used in the preparation of a meteorological dataset for the assessment. Validation of the predictions against available monitoring data indicated the model was predicting local wind directions at the Project Site with an acceptable degree of accuracy

Air Quality Modelling

For the purposes of predicting the potential for impacts associated with future port operations, the Calpuff dispersion model was utilised. Calpuff is a non-steady state Lagrangian Gaussian puff model able to incorporate effects dispersion effects associated with complex terrain, overwater transport, coastal interaction effects and building downwash.

The CALPUFF modelling system treats emissions as a series of puffs. These puffs are then dispersed throughout the modelling area and allowed to grow and bend with spatial variations in meteorology. In doing so, the model is able to retain a memory of the plume's movement throughout a single hour and from one hour to the next while continuing to better approximate the effects of the complex air flows noted in the project area.

CALPUFF utilises the meteorological processing and prediction model CALMET to provide three dimensional wind field predictions for the area of interest. The final wind field developed by the model (for consideration by CALPUFF) includes an approximation of the effects of local topography, the effects of varying surface temperatures (as is observed in land and sea bodies) and surface roughness (resulting from varied land uses and vegetation cover in an area). The CALPUFF model is able to resolve complex terrain influences on local wind fields including consideration of katabatic flows and terrain blocking along with sea breeze recirculation effects associated with the region.

More Information:

More information on this project can be obtained from the City Pacific web site:


Supplementary EIS:

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