Coal port plan will kill Great Barrier Reef: activists

Dec 11, 2013
Conservationists have slammed Australia's approval for an Indian firm to expand a major coal port on the Great Barrier Reef coast, shown in a NASA satellite image, warning it would hasten the natural wonder's demise

Conservationists on Wednesday slammed Australia's approval for an Indian firm to expand a major coal port on the Great Barrier Reef coast, warning it would hasten the natural wonder's demise.

"The Great Barrier Reef is dying and (Prime Minister) Tony Abbott is hastening its death," Greens leader Christine Milne told reporters.

"(He) has made it clear that industrialising the reef, giving approvals to coal mines and gas facilities for his big business mates, is a much greater priority for him than protecting the reef and the 63,000 jobs that depend on it," she said.

Environment Minister Greg Hunt on Tuesday gave the green light to the project by India's Adani Group, under what he labelled as "some of the strictest conditions in Australian history" governing environmental protection.

Adani can now dredge some three million cubic metres from the seabed to allow for freighters to dock at the port in Abbott Point, lifting the facility's capacity by 70 percent to make it one of the world's largest coal ports.

WWF Australia said the material dredged during the expansion would be enough to fill 150,000 dump trucks that "lined up bumper-to-bumper would stretch from Brisbane to Melbourne", a distance of more than 1,000 kilometres (620 miles).

The Great Barrier Reef is now formally considered to be in "poor" health by scientists, with overall coral cover declining by 15 percent since 2009 due to cyclones and floods, pollution and attacks by the coral-eating crown-of-thorns starfish

Greenpeace said Hunt had ignored the "serious concerns of scientists, tourism operators, fishers and UNESCO" to approve a development just 50 kilometres (31 miles) from the pristine Whitsunday Islands.

UNESCO's World Heritage Committee is to decide in June whether to list the Great Barrier Reef as being in danger, Greenpeace campaigner Louise Matthiesson noted, "and this decision will cause alarm among the international community".

"If these plans succeed, and Abbot Point becomes the world's biggest coal port, Australia will be speeding up the climate crisis that threatens our children's future."

The reef is now formally considered to be in "poor" health by government scientists, with overall coral cover declining by 15 percent since 2009 due to cyclones and floods, pollution and attacks by the coral-eating crown-of-thorns starfish.

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority—whose board is currently under investigation for its links to the mining industry—must now issue a permit allowing the dredge material to be disposed of within the park.

It said it would reveal its intentions within the next 10 days.

Hunt has also approved a major liquefied natural gas plant and transmission pipeline at Curtis Island, which is also within the reef marine park, for Australian firm Arrow Energy under 53 environmental conditions.

Explore further: Australia approves major coal port expansion on reef

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Australia approves major coal port expansion on reef

Dec 10, 2013

Australia gave the green light to a major coal port expansion for India's Adani Group on the Great Barrier Reef coast Tuesday under what were described as some of the nation's strictest-ever environmental ...

Campaign to save Barrier Reef from industry

Apr 28, 2013

Conservationists accused Australia of failing to protect the Great Barrier Reef from massive industrial development as they launched a multi-million dollar campaign to drum up awareness.

Australia failing UNESCO demands on Barrier Reef

Feb 01, 2013

Australia insisted Friday that protecting the Great Barrier Reef was a top priority, but conservationists WWF said not enough had been done to prevent UNESCO deeming it a world heritage site "in danger".

Great Barrier Reef heading for danger: UNESCO

Jun 02, 2012

UNESCO on Saturday urged decisive action from Australia to protect the Great Barrier Reef from a gas and mining boom, warning it risked being put on its list of world heritage sites deemed "in danger".

Recommended for you

3Qs: Game theory and global climate talks

Nov 21, 2014

Last week, China and the United States announced an ambitious climate agreement aimed at reducing carbon emissions in both countries, a pledge that marks the first time that China has agreed to stop its growing emissions. ...

From hurricanes to drought, LatAm's volatile climate

Nov 21, 2014

Sixteen years ago, Teodoro Acuna Zavala lost nearly everything when Hurricane Mitch ravaged his fields, pouring 10 days of torrential rains on Central America and killing more than 9,000 people.

Nicaragua: Studies say canal impact to be minimal

Nov 20, 2014

Officials said Thursday that studies have determined a $40 billion inter-oceanic canal across Nicaragua will have minimal impact on the environment and society, and construction is to begin next month.

User comments : 2

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

BSD
5 / 5 (1) Dec 11, 2013
This is typical of the attitude of the right wing state and federal governments and mining interests in Queensland. The reef is treated like it is something in the way, an inconvenience for business. The rate it is going, it will be dead before long, which is what they want. Perhaps then it can have sections of it blown away for ships to pass through and the rest concreted over to make it safe.
Shootist
1 / 5 (3) Dec 14, 2013
What we have now is all we will ever have.

Conservationist motto

ninnyhammers.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.