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Great Barrier Reef authority approves dredging and dumping to expand port

 
Great Barrier Reef

The reef: the spoil will be dumped about 24km from Abbot Point, the gateway to the world heritage-listed reef. Photograph: Grant V Faint/Getty Images

 

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Great Barrier Reef authority approves dredging and dumping to expand port” was written by Bridie Jabour, for theguardian.com on Friday 31st January 2014 05.05 UTC

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority has approved the dumping of 3m cubic metres of dredging spoil proposed as part of the expansion of a coalport.

The spoil resulting from the Abbot Point project is to be dumped near Bowen in north Queensland, about 24km from the site of the port.

The expansion, which hinged on the approval of the dumping, means an extra 70m tonnes of coal each year, worth between $1.4bn and $2.8bn, will go through the port, which is also a gateway to the world heritage-listed reef.

The authority granted approval with strict conditions on Friday afternoon.

Great Barrier Reef Map

Map: Guardian/GBRMPA

The authority chairman, Dr Russell Reichelt, said he recognised the amount of debate and community concern the project had generated and shared with everyone a strong desire to ensure the reef remained a great natural wonder into the future.

“This approval is in line with the agency’s view that port development along the Great Barrier Reef coastline should be limited to existing ports,” Reichelt said.

“As a deepwater port that has been in operation for nearly 30 years, Abbot Point is better placed than other ports along the Great Barrier Reef coastline to undertake expansion as the capital and maintenance dredging required will be significantly less than what would be required in other areas.

“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.”

Abbot Point, Australia

Greenpeace activists protest at Abbot Point coal terminal in 2009. Photograph: Greenpeace

North Queensland Bulk Ports Corporation had applied to dump within the Great Barrier Reef marine park and, although the authority was asked to make a decision within 10 days of the environment minister, Greg Hunt, approving the project in December, it asked for an extension.

North Queensland Bulk Ports Corporation is also expected to come up with an alternative site that is also expected to be within the marine park.

 

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