Gladstone Ports Corporation (GPC) has blatantly exceeded acceptable turbidity levels every day since the LNP Government gave it approval to dredge continuously, says Queensland Greens spokesperson, Dr Libby Connors.
Dr Connors says turbidity monitoring stations have recorded excessive turbidity levels every day in Gladstone Harbour since the announcement on June 25 that the GPC was “exempt” from its environmental licence conditions.
The Newman government exemption allows the corporation to continuously dredge the harbour while carrying out repairs to a leaking bund wall at the Fisherman’s Landing coal port development.
‘The change of government has not led to any improvement in environmental regulation or management so there is no reason to expect any action by Department of Environment and Heritage Protection(DEHP) over the latest extreme readings,’ says Dr Libby Connors.
‘Since September 2011 the former government and now DEHP fed the people of Queensland misleading statements about natural events such as spring tides and the 2011 floods causing environmental degradation of the harbour.
‘We now have the admission from GPC that problems with the bund wall were first experienced in September 2011.
‘Local MP Liz Cunningham has rightly berated Gladstone Ports Corporation for its misleading statements on this matter.
Dr Connors says that DEHP has also misled the public saying that water quality is fine and turbidity is due to natural variations. ‘DEHP is aware that the bund wall is leaking and polluting the harbour with acid sulfate soils, heavy metals and other toxins but it has not mentioned that in its latest report.’
The Queensland Greens say that the lack of enforcement of environmental conditions by DEHP means that there is no obligation on the corporation to improve its methods.
A US company has developed a patented dredging bucket that allows more accurate dredging and causes less turbidity than standard dredges by limiting both disturbance of contaminated sediment and water flow from the bucket. ‘The corporation has shown no interest in this more environmentally friendly technology’ Ms Connors said.
‘The poor environmental management of Gladstone Harbour is proof that governments should not approve environmentally harmful projects with promises to regulate and mitigate harm.
‘This government has shown no will to improve environmental conditions in Gladstone Harbour so Premier Newman’s glib attack on green tape is a sham. His government is simply ignoring existing environmental regulations.’
Dredging Today Staff, July 6, 2012; Image: westernbasinportdevelopment