Conservation groups say the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) must use its powers to protect the World Heritage-listed asset from a massive dredging project.
The federal government this week approved a major dredging project to expand the Abbot Point coal terminal in north Queensland.
The approval gives the go-ahead for three million cubic metres of dredge spoil to be dumped offshore, in the Great Barrier Marine Park.
But the developers must still gain permits from GBRMPA to dispose of dredge spoils inside the park boundaries. GBRMPA has 10 business days from Wednesday to make a decision.
Conservation groups WWF and the Australian Marine Conservation Society spokeswoman Felicity Wishart says it should be a no-brainer for the authority.
“How can GBRMPA approve dumping when they don’t know where it’s going,” she said.
“It’s like approving a sewage plant when you don’t yet know where the waste is going,” Ms Wishart said.
WWF spokesman Richard Leck said the authority’s own research has shown the dredging impacts will be far worse than the developers claim.
“The research also found that sediment can travel for up to 80km, and be churned up again and again,” he said.
A GBRMPA spokeswoman declined to comment and instead supplied a written statement which says the matter is being considered by a senior delegate nominated by GBRMPA’s chairman Russell Reichelt.
Press Release, December 12, 2013