Media reports that toxic marine pollutants may have been released into Gladstone Harbour due to inadequate testing by Gladstone Ports Corporation prior to dredging highlights the dangers of dredging and dumping in the Great Barrier Reef’s waters, according to the Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS).
AMCS Great Barrier Reef campaign director, Felicity Wishart, said Australian Governments had failed to heed the lessons from Gladstone Harbour when allowing dumping and dredging to go ahead at Abbot Point, only 50km from the Whitsundays.
“Reports of toxic chemicals being released into Gladstone Harbour during dredging highlights the risks generated by dredging and dumping activities and how current protections are inadequate,” Ms Wishart said.
“It is vital that Abbot Point dredging activities should not go ahead when shortcomings in the Gladstone Harbour dredging have never been adequately investigated and fixed.
“Australian Governments have appealed to the community, scientists and tourism operators to trust the regulation of dredging and dumping activities in the Reef’s waters.
“However, Gladstone Harbour dredging gives them no cause for confidence, with a current inquiry into leaking bund walls, ongoing concerns about toxic pollution and fishers still seeking compensation for lost income from loss of access to the harbour.
“There’s also no plan for ensuring the mistakes of Gladstone are not repeated for the more than 100 million tonnes of dredging and dumping planned for the waters of the Reef, if all seven proposed port expansions go ahead.
“The bottom line is the Reef doesn’t need any new ports – many ports are running at less than maximum capacity including Abbot Point which is at less than 30% utilisation.
“The Queensland Government as owner of the port authorities could move rapidly to better use existing port infrastructure and increase efficiency.
“Many of the measures needed for better protection of the Great Barrier Reef are know, what’s missing is the political will to take action,” Ms Wishart said.
Press Release, April 4, 2014