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Reef hysteria

By Cliff Hall - posted Monday, 6 January 2014

Environmentalists and the Australian Greens Party are waging a massive campaign, opposing the expansion of Queensland's "Abbot Point" coal-terminal. In so doing they have created a lot of hysteria in the media. The Greens propaganda is always full of dire predictions and catastrophic events.

Their opening statements always start with "the reef is under threat". They falsely claim; the proposed dredging and port expansion will produce an unprecedented amount of spoils, kill all marine life, destroy the coral reef and ruin the Queensland economy in the process: I can assure you, this is not the case.

The Greens and their army of fanatics, have no concept of scale. The nearest coral reef to the dredge site is 40 kilometres away; a fast boat ride would take more than an hour. Imagine trying to swim that distance.


Project Information

The Abbot Point dredge site is wholly contained within "the existing port limits" on the mainland coastline. That's the tiny green square in the image at left!

The proposed dredging site is 3kilometres offshore. Between this dredge site and the closest coral outcrop is a wide expanse of deep-water, which is devoid of any coral. This "natural" 40kilometer wide channel is also the Great Barrier Reef's main shipping route. It can easily accommodate the projected increase in traffic resulting from the port expansion. So there is no need to dredge a new "super highway" for the coal ships.

Abbot Point is located 25 kilometres north of Bowen, on the central Queensland coast of Australia. The tiny yellow-line inside the green box (see image left), is the full extent of the Abbot Point dredging operation and port expansion. That tiny yellow-line also represents the pile of sand, which will be produce by the dredging operation. Thespoils will be deposited in deep water on the "barren sea floor", not on top of coral reefs, as you have been led to believe by the reef-hysteria.

The dredge material is made up of a mixture of silt, sand, soil, clay, gravel and rocks. The entire reef is made of this same material. Unsubstantiated reports of dredge spoils containing heavy metals are typical examples of hysteria driven green-propaganda. No surprise there.

The Greens vigorously oppose the dumping of dredge spoils inside or near the marine park. This is of little or no consequence, as most of the "Great Barrier Reef" is classed as or is considered, a marine park of some description. Disposing of dredge spoils from coastal development has been an "ongoing process" for more than a century, in all that time there has never been any reported damage to the coral reef.

This new dredging operation will take place during a very short window of opportunity, between March and June. Spread over a three-year period, output has been limited to approximately one million tons of dredge spoils per year. This procedure has been designed, to avoid disrupting the breeding cycles and migration patterns of marine life. It appears the project planners have thought of everything. Job well done.


Supporting Evidence

1. Hindsight is the "indisputable truth" in any argument. A total of "19" dredging operations have been conducted on the Queensland coast since 2002. In the last 12years there has been "no reported reef damage".

2. The Australian Institute of Marine Science reports, "The Great Barrier Reef has lost half its coral cover in the last 27 years, 48% of loss was due to storm damage, 42% loss to crown of thorns starfish and 10% to Coral bleaching". There is no need to panic the coral is growing back. Dead coral forms the base for new coral. This is a natural process that's been going on for half a million years, it's all part of the evolution cycle.

3. A common practice in developing the Queensland coast for the last 130 years, is to dump dredged "sand and soil" on the barren sea floor of the reef. This action has the same effect as top-dressing your lawn. Sea-grasses will quickly repopulate the new seabed; the same way it does following cyclone and monsoonal flood damage.

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About the Author

Cliff Hall is a work in progress.

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