Tuesday 2nd of September 2014

the reef in more danger...


abbott silly point...

The world heritage organisation Unesco has heavily criticised the federal government’s decision to allow dredging of the Great Barrier Reef and recommended that it should be placed on its “in danger” list in 2015 unless the reef is protected.

In its first criticism of the federal government decision to allow dredging of the reef, Unesco said the decision was “noted with concern”, and that it was made “despite an indication that less impacting disposal alternatives may exist”.

The report raised a number of issues regarding the decision to dredge the reef, including the unknown impact of dredge plumes, and the transfer of decision-making powers from the federal government to the Queensland government.

“Given the range of significant threats affecting the property and the conflicting information about the effectiveness of recent decisions and draft policies, significant concern remains regarding the long-term deterioration of key aspects,” the report said.

The earlier assertion by the federal environment minister, Greg Hunt, that the dredging proposals met a tough 150% net benefit requirementfor water quality was also called into doubt. The report added the requirement “appears inappropriate without a specific timescale for its rapid and guaranteed achievement prior to development proceeding, and a clear indication of the implications for progress on water quality against the reef plan targets”.



abbott dumps on abbot point...

Unesco has threatened to list the Great Barrier Reef as a World Heritage in Danger site, amid controversy over a plan to dump dredged sediment.

Reef authorities granted permission for the dumping in January as part of a project to create one of the world's biggest coal ports.

But scientists have warned that the sediment could smother or poison coral.

Unesco said given "significant threats" to the reef, it should be considered for inclusion on the danger list.

The Great Barrier Reef is the world's largest coral structure, rich in marine life. It stretches for more than 2,600km (1,680 miles) along Australia's eastern coast.

'Other alternatives'

The dumping is part of a major development that would allow several companies to export coal reserves from the Galilee Basin area through the Abbot Point port.

Abbot Point lies south of Townsville on the Queensland coast.

Late last year, the government approved an application for the coal terminal to be expanded. The dredging is needed to allow ships into the port.


too vague to be enforced...

An independent inquiry into a major dredging project in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area has found environmental conditions on a central Queensland port expansion were too vague to be enforced.

The Federal Government commissioned a scientific inquiry into the Gladstone Port dredging project.

It examined a bund wall that leaked sediment into the harbour from June 2011 to July 2012.

The inquiry has found "aspects of the design and construction of the bund wall were not consistent with industry best practice", and the geotextile layers of the wall eroded under pressure.

The investigation has found water quality monitoring sites in Gladstone were established in the wrong areas, and the federal Environment Department failed to adequately retain compliance records.

It also says environmental conditions imposed by the Commonwealth lacked the specifics necessary to enable their effective enforcement.

Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt will hand down the report this morning.

Fishermen in the Gladstone area have been eagerly awaiting the inquiry's findings.

When the bund wall leaked it coincided with an outbreak of fish disease in the harbour and nearby waterways.

However, a Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry report released in 2013 found that flooding and a large number of fish spilling out from the Awoonga Dam was the main cause of the problem.


toxics load in the Abbot Point dredge spoil...

Lachlan Barker continues his explosive investigation into Abbot Pt coal port project, this time showing why – despite official assurances – the dredge spoil is almost certainly a toxic threat to the Great Barrier Reef National Park.

[Read Part One]

[Read Part Two]

[Read Part Three]

THE REPORT HAS NOW BEEN RELEASED on the dredging at Gladstone harbour, and it doesn’t auger well for the dredging, and subsequent dumping of dredge spoil, at Abbot Point, further up the coast at Bowen.

Essentially the problem at Gladstone was a leaking bund wall, built to contain the sediment within the harbour.

However, as Jon Brodie, research scientist with Tropwater, an adjunct of James Cook University described in The Conversation, the problems were vastly more systemic, involving lack of oversight by understaffed government departments.

Wrote Jon Brodie:

'A key part of the Gladstone Harbour dredging program for the A$35 billion Curtis Island liquefied natural gas export hub has failed due to bad construction, inadequate monitoring and poor environmental oversight by state and federal governments.'

And this has ominous overtones for Abbot Point.

What’s more, new concerns – well, actually, old concerns that have been repeatedly ignored – about the toxics load in the Abbot Point dredge spoil can now be revealed.

read more: http://www.independentaustralia.net/environment/environment-display/abbot-point-part-4-coalition-covers-up-toxic-dredge-spoil-danger,6516

the last breath of the reef being taken by a pillow of mud...

Hollywood actor Leonardo DiCaprio said he has 'witnessed environmental devastation first hand' on the Great Barrier Reef. In a powerful speech at the Our Oceans conference in Washington, the actor spoke about diving the Great Barrier Reef over the past 20 years and the coral bleaching and 'dead zones' he saw on a recent visit

see more: http://www.theguardian.com/film/video/2014/jun/18/leo-dicaprio-great-barrier-reef-video


The UN has expressed alarm at Australia’s proposal to dump 3m [3 million] cubic metres of dredged material into the Great Barrier Reef world heritage site, saying the development could place the site on Unesco’s list of shame.

The Australian and Queensland governments have granted approval for dumping as part of the expansion of the Abbot Point coal port, which lies on the fringes of the reef.

At the annual meeting of the Unesco world heritage committee in Doha, delegates “noted with concern” the Abbot Point project. Australia was warned the reef could be added to the World Heritage in Danger list at the next meeting in 2015 if alternative development methods were not considered.

The committee said it: “regrets the state party’s approval for dumping 3m cubic metres of dredge material inside the property prior to having undertaken a comprehensive assessment of alternative and potentially less impacting development and disposal options”.

Conservation groups have said the dumping could irreparably damage the coral. The reef survives on a delicate symbiosis between its plants and animals. Corals provide the skeleton on which the entire ecosystem is built. These interactions are already significantly threatened by the runoff of agricultural chemicals and destruction of increasingly fragile corals by cyclones. In three decades the coral cover on the reef has fallen by 50%.

read more: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/jun/18/un-expresses-alarm-about-proposed-dumping-in-great-barrier-reef


problematic dumping in itself...

The amount of money needed to “offset” the impact of a dredging project on the Great Barrier Reef could be as much as $1bn – which is $998m more than the project developer has suggested.

Documents obtained under freedom of information reveal huge uncertainty over the investment needed to maintain water quality following dredging to expand the Abbot Point port, north of Bowen in Queensland.

In approving the development, which will allow for a greater volume of shipped coal exports, environment minister Greg Hunt stipulated there must be a 150% net benefit in water quality after the dredging.

Several experts, including those from the United Nations, have questioned whether this is viable, with critics claiming that digging up seabed and dumping it within the Great Barrier Reef marine park will smother coral with sediment and kill off marine life.

Internal emails from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority show this task, and its cost, is open to question.

“GBRMPA has done some preliminary cost estimates for water quality offsets and assess that the cost of delivering a genuine net benefit would [be from] $200m to over $1bn depending on assumptions,” one document from June 2013 states.

“Without any indication as to what the proponent or the department view as reasonable, determining whether any proposed offsets are practical and provide a proven net benefit will be problematic.”

These emails contain a warning, revealed earlier this year, that the entire proposal to dump 3m cubic metres of dredged seabed into the marine park is problematic in itself.

The disparity in the amount of money needed to offset sediment dumped into the marine park is revealed in further GBRMPA correspondence from January 2014.