Australia to dump dredged sand in Great Barrier Reef Park

Story highlights

  • Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority approves plan to dump millions of tons of dredge spoil
  • Waste material will come from the expansion of a coal port
  • Environmental groups decry decision
The Australian federal government has approved a plan to dump 3 million cubic meters of dredge spoil in the Great Barrier Reef Park. The dredged material will come from the proposed expansion of the coal port at Abbot Point, south of Townsville on the Queensland coast.
Final approval came from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, and is subject to "strict conditions." The proposal, while controversial and opposed by environmental groups including Greenpeace, had already been approved by Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt last month.
Tony Abbott's government has come under fire for a raft of environmental decisions lately, including an election pledge to rescind expansion of Tasmania's World Heritage-listed forest reserve which has united environmental campaigners and the forestry industry, who see the plan as unworkable and damaging in the long term.
The reef is the largest living structure on the planet, and is a hugely diverse ecosystem stretching 2,300 kilometers along the Queensland coast. The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park is 345,000 square kilometers in size and home to thousands of species of coral, fish, molluscs, jellyfish, sharks and whales.
A statement released by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority said the proposal was in line with directives to limit development of ports on the coast to existing f