Federal Government investigates Gladstone Port expansion

An aerial View of Fisherman's Landing in Gladstone Harbour.
An aerial View of Fisherman's Landing in Gladstone Harbour. Brenda Strong

THE expansion of Gladstone's port is under investigation by the Federal Government.

Australians for Animals coordinator Sue Arnold said she and veterinary scientist Matt Landos had been in extensive interviews with Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke and government representatives about their concerns for the harbour, which included animal health.

"The most important issue is the fact that there has been no audit of compliance for the ecosystems research monitoring program, sea dumping permit and the dredging permit," Ms Arnold said.

"Tony Burke has asked his department's compliance section to investigate these issues."

A Gladstone Ports Corporation spokesperson said  they would welcome any review of the project and could provide vast numbers of reports, studies and audits undertaken by GPC and independent experts.

"Gladstone Ports Corporation welcomed Tony Burke's announcement of an independent review by respected scientist Anthea Tinney, the current chairwoman of the Australian National Commission for UNESCO, into the management of water quality in Gladstone Harbour in early February 2013," the spokesperson said.

"The Western Basin project has over 600 project conditions which provide a comprehensive set of environmental requirements set by the Commonwealth and State governments. GPC meets these conditions including all audit requirements.

"GPC also has in place, as required by the approval conditions, a Dredge Technical Reference Panel and an Ecological Research Monitoring Program Advisory Panel to over see key aspects of the project."

Ms Arnold said there had been a five-fold increase in dolphin strandings around Curtis Island and research from Southern Cross University PHD student Daniel Cagnazzi showed a significant drop in the number of dolphins in the harbour.

35% of dolphins have disappeared from Curtis Island
35% of dolphins have disappeared from Curtis Island

"We were aware quite some time ago there were major problems - 35% of dolphins have disappeared from Curtis Island."

She said the government needed to stop development to ensure the future for animals in the harbour.

"A second major shipping channel is in the works. If this is given the go ahead by the government, I don't think there is any possibility these dolphins will survive."

Topics:  expansion federal government gladstone port investigation

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