Great Barrier Reef: One million tonnes of sludge to be dumped

BBC News

Australia plans to dump one million tonnes of sludge in the Great Barrier Reef.

Despite strict laws on dumping waste, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) gave the go-ahead.

A loophole was found – the laws don’t apply to materials generated from port maintenance work.  

It comes one week after flood water from Queensland spread into the reef, which scientists say will “smother” the coral.

The industrial residue is dredged from the bottom of the sea floor near Hay Point Port – one of the world’s largest coal exports and a substantial economic source for the country.

Larissa Waters, senator for Queensland and co-deputy leader of the Greens Party, called for the license to be revoked.

“The last thing the reef needs is more sludge dumped on it, after being slammed by the floods recently,” she told the Guardian.

“One million tonnes of dumping dredged sludge into world heritage waters treats our reef like a rubbish tip.”

It’s just “another nail in the coffin” for the World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef, which is already under stress due to climate change, according to Dr Simon Boxall from the National Oceanography Centre Southampton.

“If they are dumping it over the coral reef itself, it will have quite a devastating effect. The sludge is basically blanketing over the coral.

“The coral relies on the algae, that’s what give them their colour and what helps them feed – without this partnership the coral will suffer dramatically.”

Dr Boxall says his worries about sludge-dumping are short-term – with the current Australian summer a time for “rapid algae growth”.

The North Queensland Bulk Ports Corporation, which looks after Hay Point, said dumping the sludge will have a minor environmental impact.

In a statement issued online, the corporation claimed its reports showed the risks to be “predominantly low with some temporary short-term impacts”.

Dr Boxall says the impact will be lessened if the sludge is taken far enough offshore, but that it will still contain high amounts of harmful materials such as trace metals.

“If it’s put into shallow water it will smother sea life,” he says.

“It’s important they get it right.

“It’ll cost more money but that’s not the environment’s problem – that’s the port authorities’ problem.”

Last year, Australia pledged A$500 million (£275m) to protect the Great Barrier Reef – which has lost 30% of its coral due to bleaching linked to rising sea temperatures and damage from crown-of-thorns starfish.

One of the threats listed at the time was “large amounts of sediment”.

7 thoughts on “Great Barrier Reef: One million tonnes of sludge to be dumped

  1. Someone had suggested that instead of dumping it on The Great Barrier Reef it could be dumped on Tel Aviv. A few hours later that person went missing.


  2. I went snorkeling at the Great Barrier Reef in 2007. It was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen anywhere in my entire life.


    “And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth.” Rev. 11:18 KJ

    1. I hear you…and if they do the same kinda thing off Grand Turk (home of the 7,000 foot barrier reef and scuba diving haven)…and thanks for stating the ENTIRE Revelation 11:18!

      If you’ve never scuba’d off of Grand Turk in the Turks and Caicos (Eastern Caribbean), now’s the time to do it! Wish I could have done the Barrier reef though.

      1. From a reply to mary earlier on another article, DL…

        “Wherever the jew is found he is a problem, a source of unhappiness to himself and to those around him…. you believe in the doctrine of forgiveness while we believe in the doctrine of retaliation… In our life, the jewish life, loyalty is unknown…. We are a disturbing influence in your life… In everything we are destroyers…. We jews, we, the destroyers, will remain the destroyers forever. Nothing that you will do will meet our needs and demands. We will forever destroy…” (You Gentiles (1924), (jewish) Maurice Samuel: p. 10)”

        They TELL us ‘Gentiles’ EXACTLY who & what they are.


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