"Australia's Great Barrier Reef watchdog gave the green light on Friday for millions of cubic metres of dredged mud to be dumped near the fragile reef to create the world's biggest coal port and possibly unlock $28 billion in coal projects.Fortunately, the dredged material will all stay in one place after it's dumped, and won't move around or anything like that, because there aren't any, you know, currents or waves or such.
The dumping permit clears the way for a major expansion of the port of Abbot Point for two Indian firms and Australian billionaire miner Gina Rinehart, who together have $16 billion worth of coal projects in the untapped, inland Galilee Basin.Environmentalists, scientists and tourist operators had fought the plan, which they fear will harm delicate corals and seagrasses and potentially double the ship traffic through the World Heritage marine park.The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, an independent government agency charged with protecting the reef, acknowledged the concerns, but said expanding Abbot Point would require much less dredging than other port options."It's important to note the seafloor of the approved disposal area consists of sand, silt and clay and does not contain coral reefs or seagrass beds," the marine park authority's chairman, Russell Reichert, said in a statement..."
Addendum August 2014: A hat tip to reader expatQLD for sending in these followup details on the outcome of the proposal.
The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park is likely to be spared from having 3 million cubic metres of dredge spoil dumped on it as part of the Abbot Point coal terminal expansion.Details at the link.
Dawson MP George Christensen confessed in an open letter to Whitsunday residents that “I got it wrong” and is in negotiations with North Queensland Bulk Ports (NQBP) to find a land-based dumping site for the spoil.