The Queensland Greens state that latest monitoring reports confirm that the Department of Environment and Resource Management put the public at risk and allowed Gladstone harbour to be turned into a muddy mess on Australia Day.
DERM allowed Gladstone Ports Corporation (GPC) to dredge on both Christmas Day and Australia Day despite monitoring showing that turbidity was over the limit on both holidays.
Queensland Greens spokesperson, Libby Connors said the high turbidity meant that there were higher nutrient and heavy metal levels in different parts of the harbour and that these were potentially damaging to human health and to marine wildlife.
'DERM should have issued an environmental protection order - not only because that is a requirement under GPC's environmental conditions but because public holidays are the period of maximum recreational use of the harbour.
'The scientific panel concluded that the diseased fish recently caught in Gladstone harbour could not transmit disease to humans but that is only one of the public health concerns.
'Recreational users are at risk of bacterial infections in turbid waters.
'Why was there so little concern for boating and fishing holidaymakers on Christmas and Australia Days?'
DERM issued its own report on Port Curtis water quality in mid-December and found elevated levels of nutrients, copper and aluminium.
'Environmental Medicine specialist, Dr Andrew Jeremijenko, has advised the Greens that the risk of human infection is genuine and many Gladstone fishermen have already been reported to have suffered severe infections in recent months when turbidity has been so high.
'It appears DERM is reluctant to enforce the environmental conditions that restrict dredging, despite all the promises of heavy regulation of mining and gas development.'
More at http://qld.greens.org.au/
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2:42 AM Wed 1 Feb 2012 GMT