'A supplied image obtained Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2013 of activists protesting underwater in the Great Barrier Reef. (AAP Image/Supplied by Greenpeace, Dean Miller) NO ARCHIVING, EDITORIAL USE ONLY'
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Greenpeace has commenced a campaign criticising the Queensland government for downplaying the effects of dredging on the Great Barrier Reef in deference to the wishes of the coal industry, as it states.
The federal government approved a major coal port expansion and dredging at Abbot Point in northern Queensland last week. 'Is it possible to simultaneously permit more fossil fuel export developments in this world heritage site as well as be its guardian?' asks Greenpeace.
The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) is yet to grant a permit for the developers to dump three million cubic metres of dredged spoils in the reef's waters.
Green groups say this will irreversibly damage the reef but the Queensland government has accused them of spreading mistruths and wanting to shut down the coal industry.
The government also said the majority of dredging material is clean sand that can easily be settled and the dumping would occur far away from coral reefs.
Greenpeace Queensland campaigner. Louise Matthiesson said the dredging material is not just clean sand but there are mud and other toxic substances that can damage the reef.
'The Queensland government needs to stop being a cheerleader for the coal industry,' Matthiesson said. 'We will be urging the marine authority to give priority to the reef and not grant the permit.'
According to Matthiesson, dumping would occur 10 to 15 kilometres from the Holbourne Island National Park off far north Queensland's coastal town of Bowen and the dredge soil could drift and smother nearby coral reef.
She said Greenpeace will look into legal options if GBRMPA granted the permit and seeking to know if the authority plans to make a decision before Christmas.
A GBRMPA spokeswoman last week said the matter was being considered by a delegate nominated by its chairman, Russell Reichelt.
More at www.greenpeace.org/australia/en/news/climate/Flowers-after-an-affair/
by Media Services
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4:10 AM Tue 31 Dec 2013GMT
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