Great Barrier Reef sediment disposal site. Australian authorities have approved a project to dump dredged sediment in the Great Barrier Reef marine park as part of a project to create one of the world's biggest coal ports. Graphic: Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority

31 January 2014 (BBC News) – Australian authorities have approved a project to dump dredged sediment in the Great Barrier Reef marine park as part of a project to create one of the world's biggest coal ports.

The decision was made by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA).

Scientists had urged it not to back the project, saying the sediment could smother or poison coral.

Several companies want to use the Abbot Point port to export coal reserves from the Galilee Basin area.

Abbot Point lies south of Townsville on the Queensland coast.

Late last year, the government approved an application for the coal terminal to be expanded. The dredging is needed to allow ships into the port. […]

Earlier this month, 233 scientists signed a letter to GBRMPA urging it to reject the plan, and environmental groups condemned the decision.

“This go-ahead for dumping is one more body blow for the reef, which further threatens marine life, its World Heritage status and Australia's tourism and fishing industries," Greenpeace Reef Campaigner Louise Matthiesson said in a statement. [more]

Australia Great Barrier Reef dredge dumping plan approved

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