The Great Barrier Reef is being threatened by mining

Green Bazaar sent the following email to Greg Hunt, Environment Minister, on 14/10/13.
(Background information via GetUp: https://www.getup.org.au/campaigns/great-barrier-reef–3/commit-to-saving-the-reef/contact-environment-minister-greg-hunt)

Dear Minister Hunt,

Please say no to the 4th LNG plant on Curtis Island. Why?

– Not only does this project extend CSG processing in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area, it also goes against UNESCO’s recommendation for all extractive industries and their infrastructure to be withdrawn from World Heritage areas;

– The lighting from this massive plant will have a major impact on the vulnerable Flatback Turtle. The turtles nest at Southend on the island and the light will disorient nesting females and their hatchlings;

– The volume of dredging and cut and fill for the project has grown by more than a third since it was originally proposed. On these grounds, the project should have been rejected at the state level and Shell should have been required to recommence the approval process;

– The project will dredge, pile drive and landfill within 500 metres of a seagrass feeding ground for dugong, dolphins and sea turtles and in turn, have a major impact on water quality in an already fragile Gladstone Harbour;

– This one project alone will produce 59.6Mt per annum of greenhouse gases – the equivalent of more than one-third of the state of Queensland’s entire emissions for 2009, and the equivalent of 14% of national greenhouse gas emissions;

– Shell has admitted that this project will increase nitrogen dioxide emissions over the township of Gladstone which already exceed the Environmental Protection (Air) Policy (2008) standard for human health and well being. The Gladstone Regional Council has publicly opposed this proposal on grounds that it will harm the health of residents.

Please commit to long-term protection of the Fitzroy Delta. Why?

3 Industrial Developments, including 2 Coal Export Terminals, are planned for the Fitzroy River Delta at the southern end of Keppel Bay – Mitchell Group’s Fitzroy Terminal Project (FTP); Gladstone Port Corporation’s planned industrial expansion (GPC) and Balaclava Island Coal Export Terminal (BICET Xstrata).

– The Fitzroy Delta is the largest and most significant Estuarine System on the East Coast of Australia. It feeds directly into the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area, and is therefore critical to the health and functionality of the Reef. Experts have described the Fitzroy Delta as a largely pristine area with minimal disturbance over the last 20 years. The recent UNESCO report stated that the government should, “Not permit any new port development or associated infrastructure outside of the existing and long-established major port areas within and adjoining the property.”

– Once the FTP is completed, 22 millions tons of coal per annum will be transported on barges through the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

– The Snubfin Dolphin is Australia’s only native dolphin, genetically unique to Central Queensland. It was only described as a separate species in 2005 and the Fitzroy River has been identified as the key sub-population. Only 90 of the rare ‘Snubbies’ call the Fitzroy Delta home. The UNESCO report has identified that the location of the FTP and Balaclava Island projects have the potential to seriously impact this population. Coastal and river dolphins are among the most threatened species of mammal in the world.

– Peak Island in Keppel Bay is a globally significant nesting site for Flatback turtles. Ship mooring adjacent to the island has potential to disrupt nesting and hatching behaviour. Nationally threatened and migratory species inhabit the area – four species of turtles, small numbers of dugong, three species of dolphin, endangered birds such as the Yellow Chat.

– The Fitzroy estuary is a unique and relatively pristine estuary, with extensive wetlands that support fish breeding. In turn, the fish stocks support the significant recreational and commercial fisheries in the region.

– Areas near large industrial ports are heavily impacted from higher than normal rates of Large Marine Debris. Much of the debris in areas like Gladstone and Mackay is identifiable as waste from large industrial port activity e.g. mooring ropes, work helmets, crates, drums & bottles.

Please say no to the world’s largest coal port at Abbot Point. Why?

– The planned port expansion would see 3 million tonnes of mud dredged up and dumped in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park;

– The development is seen as a key stepping stone for the massive expansion of coal exports from Queensland’s Galilee Basin. This could lead to over 100 million tonnes of greenhouse gases being released, which will impact our climate change efforts;

– Research completed on the proposed dredging found significant uncertainties around the impacts. When placed at sea, the mud and contaminants from dredge material has the potential to migrate on a much greater scale than previously thought;

– Commercial and recreational fishers have raised concerns over dumping the dredge spoil at sea. The impact of dredging on water quality and fish stocks, particularly mackerel, has the potential to damage their livelihoods.

– The proposed level of expansion of Abbot Point eclipses anything that has been done in the past. If approval is granted to make Abbot Point the largest coal export facility in the world, the Reef will almost certainly be placed on UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites ‘At Risk’ list. This will damage our reputation globally as a leader in environmental protection and sustainability.

Please say no to dredging and dumping in the World Heritage Area. Why?

– The Great Barrier Reef covers 348,000 square kilometres and has been recognised by UNESCO since 1981 as an area of global environmental significance. The Reef generates over $5 billion in revenue annually and employs 63,000 Australians;

– UNESCO has raised concerns with the level of industrial development along the Queensland coast. The dredging involved with port developments and increased shipping through the reef have sparked widespread concern among conservationists, with the threat of significant environmental damage such as coral loss and decreased water quality;

– In 2011, port expansion at Curtis Island, 635 km south of Abbot Point, resulted in 21 million cubic meters of sand and mud dredged and dumped on the ocean floor. Observations by local fishers of sick fish populations following the dredging led to further research on the impacts. Studies by the Gladstone Fishing Research Fund found algal blooms and acidity variations in the water, major outbreaks of diseases in turtles, dolphins and dugongs, and above-average metal counts in the blood of fish;

– In 2010, when a Chinese cargo ship ran aground near Keppel Bay Islands National Park, it released 4 tons of fuel into the water and destroyed 3 km of coral reefs. Increased traffic through the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park is certain to increase the incidences of these accidents.

Yours sincerely,

Jessica Lowe

Imogen’s Farm
Whian Whian NSW 2480

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