DREDGE DUMPING PERMITTED NEAR GREAT BARRIER REEF
Last Friday, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority gave the green light to North Queensland Bulk Ports Corporation to deposit as much as 3,000,000 cubic meters of dredging waste into the Great Barrier Reef. The dumping permit would allow for major expansion of the port of Abbot Point, potentially bringing in up to $28 billion in coal projects. While the Authority placed 47 environmental conditions on the project—including long-term water quality monitoring and measures to reduce the impact on biodiversity—environmentalists fear the damage expansion of the port could cause. They question why an effort was not made to dispose of the dredge spoil on land and worry about damage to feeding grounds for vulnerable species. Authority chairman Russell Reichelt, however, argued that expansion of the existing port would be less harmful than development elsewhere, noting that “the approved disposal area consists of sand, silt, and clay and does not contain coral reefs or sea grass beds.” The project could threaten the reef’s World Heritage listing. In June, UNESCO will decide whether to put the reef on its “in danger” list or possibly even cancel its World Heritage designation. For the full story, see http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/abbot-point-dredging-dumping-permitted-within-great-barrier-reef-waters-20140131-31rxn.html and http://uk.reuters.com/article/2014/01/30/us-australia-reef-dredging-idUKBREA0T0DO20140130.