The State government proposal to dump dredge spoil from Abbot Point onshore must undergo a full environmental impact assessment under the EPBC Act. Despite claims to the contrary, the area and the proposed action have not been considered in previous assessments relating to Abbot Point.
The area in which it is proposed to dump the spoil is part of a wetland of national importance and home to significant populations of listed species. It is also a fish nursery area and a filter for the GBR World Heritage Area.
While the move to avoid offshore dumping is good, we must not just see damage being transferred from one area to another.
The area in question is important to Australia for a number of reasons and it is essential that comprehensive and rigorous, open and transparent assessment is carried out.
As you may have seen in the news, last Friday Jeff Seeney made a formal request to the Federal government for approval to dump dredge spoil on land. This comes after weeks of media speculation and an adjournment to our case until the onshore dumping is resolved.
Patricia Julien and Mackay Conservation Group have been working on the issue of the Caley Valley wetlands for many years now. See for example this story in 2012, when Patricia and Tub Wilson raised concerns about what coal port expansion would mean for the wetlands.
Pictured below: Patricia being interviewed at the wetlands in 2012, and right a pair of painted snipes
Legal case against Abbot Point dumping will continue
Rumours are circulating that the companies wanting to build Abbot Point coal terminals will propose a land based dumping option to address concerns about the impact of dumping dredge spoil in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.
In March this year MCG launched legal action against the Environment Minister Greg Hunt’s decision to approve dredging and dumping for the proposed Abbot Point coal terminal expansion.
‘We would need to see any alternative proposal to determine how far it goes towards addressing all our concerns and whether it affects the current Federal Court case.Read more
On Thursday 12 December there was a strong showing from Mackay locals at a protest we organised at the North Queensland Bulk Ports office in Wellington Street, Mackay against the approval of the dredging and terminal construction at Abbot Point, near Bowen.
In an event described by the Daily Mercury as 'dramatic' we threw dredge spoil over some of local marine creatures: dugongs, reef fish and sea turtles. All of these animals will have their habitat affected by the proposed 3 million cubic metre dredging project.
The photo above was taken by ABC Tropical North, and the full story can be seen at their website: http://www.abc.net.au/local/photos/2013/12/11/3909708.htm
For more information about the Abbot Point coal port expansion: http://www.mackayconservationgroup.org.au/abbot_point_a_disaster_in_the_making