There is a possibility that a great deal of pressure might be imposed on the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park to accept more than 100 million tons of dredging waste under plans to expand coal production and export port facilities in central Queensland.
MacKay Conservation Group co-ordinator Patricia Julien stressed that the plans to impose a dumping fee of between $5 and $15 per cubic meter for waste would “provide a perverse incentive for a cash-starved Marine Park Authority to accept waste in order to get revenue.” In a letter addressed to federal Environment Minister Tony Burke and Tourism and Resources Minister Martin Ferguson, Ms Julien said the plan would make it very cheap for companies to get rid of unwanted material in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.
Mr. Burke explained the introduction of a fee did not mean approval to dump dredging spoil would be automatically granted. He added the proposal assumed that disposal of dredge spoil was a legitimate use of the World Heritage Marine Park and that the only question was how much to charge.
Queensland Premier, Anna Bligh, said the dumping of dredge was being conducted legally and lawfully “under strict conditions” set by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.
Dredging Today Staff, February 27, 2012; Image: westernbasinportdevelopment