The Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) has today welcomed reports of a backdown from port proponents Adani and GVK to avoid dumping dredge spoil in the Great Barrier Reef’s waters but said that there is a long way to go before the Reef is protected from port expansions.
Felicity Wishart, the AMCS Great Barrier Reef campaign director, said the plans reported today add to the long track record of uncertainty, environmental risks and damage, and poor governance since the Abbot Point port expansion was first proposed.
“The plan to build the world’s largest coal port just 50km from the Whitsunday Islands was always a foolish idea, destined to generate huge concern from the community, tourism operators, scientists and the World Heritage Committee.
“Industry’s claims that there were no better options than sea dumping at Abbot Point have been shown to be unreliable, now that a new land based dumping proposal is expected.
“The government’s claim that sea dumping was the only viable option has been shown to be a smokescreen and claims these were the toughest environmental conditions have gone up in smoke.
“The final dumping site for this controversial dredge spoil from Abbot Point remains unknown. There is no agreed sea dumping site and now there is a mystery land-based site that didn’t exist before.
“Any dumping of dredge spoil in wetlands would only replace one environmental problem with another.
“And the latest claims from the Minister that he has drawn a line in the sand over dumping are unsubstantiated.
“There are plans for over 90 million tonnes of dredging for port expansions on the Reef right now, most of which would be dumped in the Reef’s waters. None of that has changed in the past week, month or year, despite the Minister’s assurances.
“The community’s pressure has forced industry to look more seriously at land-based options. And it has put a spotlight on the failure of government to put the Reef ahead of the interests of mining companies Adani and GVK.
“The damage caused by dredging, dumping and increased shipping will ruin the Reef.
“Nothing short of laws to reduce dredging and ban dumping in the Reef’s waters will do,” said Ms Wishart.