The Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) is concerned by media reports that the new Chief Executive of North Queensland Bulk Port Corporation does not recognise the serious risks posed to the Great Barrier Reef by dredging and dumping for the expansion of the Abbot Point coal terminal.
As the new head of a state-owned port authority, Mr Steve Lewis is responsible for environmental management and marine pollution, not only commercial considerations, according to AMCS Great Barrier Reef campaign director Felicity Wishart.
“One of the highest priorities for Mr Lewis as head of a ports corporation that’s allowed to operate alongside one of the greatest natural wonders of the world must be ensuring the Reef remains safe,” Ms Wishart said today.
“There are community expectations about the protection of the Great Barrier Reef and legitimate scientific questions about the proposed dredging and dumping taking place in the Reef’s waters.
“The immediate dismissal of these concerns, and claims that the risks from dredging and dumping are low and short term, fly in the face of the views of hundreds of coral reef scientsts and new scientific studies.
“In recent months, new scientific studies have revealed that dredging can more than double the incidence of coral disease and that coal dust is causing toxicity in inshore areas around ports.
“There are also unanswered questions about the true impact of previous dredging operations at Hay Point undertaken by the port authority where monitoring of corals only occurred for 6 months.
“The authority is yet to announce the final location for the planned dumping of 3 million cubic metres of dredge spoil from Abbot Point, and we await the outcome of current legal actions challenging the planned dumping and dredging.
“The new Chief Executive of NQBPC needs to take seriously these scientific and community concerns about the development of Abbot Point and future port activity,” Ms Wishart said.