Australia’s Environment Minister Greg Hunt has approved 1 million cubic metres of dredging in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area for the expansion of the Abbot Point coal terminal.
The waters around Abbot Point port are home to dugongs, sea turtles and snubfins dolphins. The expansion project involves dredging for a major new coal terminal, with dredge spoil to be dumped on land adjacent to wetlands that are home to thousands of migratory birds.
“It’s disappointing that the Minister has approved this project within the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area, despite the damage it will do,” Ms Matthiesson said.
“To expand the port, 61 hectares of seabed will be ripped up creating 1.1 million cubic metres of dredge spoil.
“Damaging dredge plumes will be created harming sea grass and potentially reaching nearby coral reefs."
Earlier this year the Queensland and Australian governments banned sea-dumping of dredge spoil, in response to public pressure.
“Although we’re pleased that the dredge spoil can no longer be dumped at sea, it’s not appropriate to place it beside an internationally significant wetland, when there are better locations available further inland.
"Over the past 12 months we’ve seen more and more banks abandon the sinking ship that is the Carmichael Coal Mine, which if built will feed the Abbot Point coal terminal expansion.
“Why risk building a port that will become a “white elephant”, that will damage the homes of dugongs and turtles, for a mine that might never be built?”
WWF-Australia Media Contact:
Daniel Rockett, National Media Manager, 0432 206 592, @DRock1978