The Federal Government’s decision to allow three million cubic metres of sediment and rock to be dredged and dumped in World Heritage waters to expand Abbot Point port, is “damaging and short-sighted,” reef campaigners said today.
AMCS Great Barrier Reef Campaign Director, Felicity Wishart, said the go ahead for dredging and dumping flies in the face of the Coalition’s claims during the election campaign that it had the Reef’s best interests at heart.
“This opens the way for Abbot Point to become the world’s biggest coal port just 50km from the tourist magnet of the Whitsunday Islands,” Ms Wishart said.
“Dredging and dumping on this scale is a body blow to an already fragile Reef. This is bad for the natural environment, tourism, fishers and jobs.
“New Environment Minister Greg Hunt has turned his back on the evidence and failed in his first major test of protection for the Reef,” she said.
WWF Campaign Director Richard Leck said a disposal site had not yet been finalised.
“How can the Minister approve the dumping when we don’t even know where this dredge spoil is going,” Mr Leck said.
“Three million cubic metres of dredge spoil is enough to fill 150 thousand dump trucks, that lined up bumper-to-bumper, would stretch from Brisbane to Melbourne.
“A recent government report found that plumes of dredge material spread even further than first thought. This means an even bigger impact on corals, water visibility and sensitive Reef species
“Scientists are telling us pollution is killing the Reef, that it needs extra care, but this decision treats the Reef like a dump – it’s totally at odds with community expectations.
“The dumping of dredge spoil in Reef waters is an outdated practice and should be banned. Queensland already has excess port capacity, yet the fast-tracking of port developments like Abbot Point continues.
“The World Heritage Committee could list the Great Barrier Reef as ‘World Heritage in Danger’ if we don’t put the brakes on industrial development,” he said.
The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority must now issue a permit to allow the dumping to proceed. Fight For The Reef calls on GBRMPA to refuse a permit to dump three million cubic metres of dredged spoil in Reef waters.
Press Release, December 10, 2013