The Australian Marine Conservation Society has welcomed the announcement of an inquiry into the leaking bund wall in Gladstone and said no further port development approvals should be allowed on the Reef until the truth about Gladstone is fully understood.
Felicity Wishart, the Great Barrier Reef campaign director, said there had clearly been problems associated with dredging that had damaged the environment and the interests of the community.
“Gladstone has been a disaster. Dredging, dumping and massive gas hubs have wrecked what was once a beautiful place.
“New information keeps coming to light that raises serious questions about how this project has been managed, while the Gladstone Ports Corporation stonewalls.
“In 2011, the bund wall in Gladstone leaked, leaching dangerous chemicals into the harbour and that same year fish, turtles and dugongs became sick and died, the local fishing industry was decimated and fishers are still pursuing legal claims.
“The Gladstone Ports Corporation has consistently attempted to blame the massive problems in the harbour on the rain and floods, not the millions of tonnes of dredging and dumping they undertook.
“It is time the truth came out and those responsible for this atrocious environmental damage are made accountable.
“The Minister should not be approving any new dredging, dumping or port developments in the Reef until we know the truth about Gladstone.
“This is another reason why the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority should refuse to issue a dumping permit for the Abbot Point dredging plans in the Reef.
“How can we trust any future developments along the Reef when there are so many unanswered questions about what went wrong in Gladstone?
“Let’s be very clear about this. When you dredge and dump in one of the world’s most precious and sensitive environments, you are going to create problems.
“While successive governments and ports managers continue to deny there are serious problems, the community can have no faith that the Great Barrier Reef will be protected,” said Ms Wishart.
Press Release, January 8, 2014