Aerial photo of the proposed Coal Port site taken after floods earlier this year.
Aerial photo of the proposed Coal Port site taken after floods earlier this year. Contributed

Ban coal loading near Great Barrier Reef -KAFDA and GetUp

THE Keppel and Fitzroy Delta Alliance (KAFDA) has called for an immediate moratorium on all port development in Fitzroy Delta and Keppel Bay.

It came after the release of a new video revealed the dangers of barge to ship coal loading - known as transhipping - proposed for the exposed waters of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.

Alliance spokeswoman Ginny Gerlach said GetUp's video graphically emphasised the risks to community, environment and the reef by the Mitchell Group's Fitzroy Terminal Project.

"We have surveyed our community and 92% of people are already extremely concerned about this proposal," Ms Gerlach said.

"These disturbing images of children playing on coal-covered beaches show what our future would be if this goes ahead.

"Any new port construction in the Fitzroy delta will breach the UNESCO recommendations and have long-term irreversible impacts on this crucial habitat.

"(And) increasing the possibility of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area being listed as in danger.

"Ms Gerlach said all Australians needed to carefully look at the video released by GetUp today and express their concerns to the Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt "in the strongest terms".

She said with the Queensland Government's draft port strategy would allow for this risky experimental port proposal to proceed.

"It is now time for Minister Hunt to urgently step in and protect this area permanently," Ms Gerlach said.

She said the local community alliance brought together is a local community alliance of recreational fishing and boating groups, commercial fishing operations, tourism operators, conservation groups, small business operators and concerned residents.

The Mitchell Group proposed to build a massive new 22 mtpa coal port facility to barge coal from the Fitzroy Delta and load onto ships in the exposed waters of Keppel Bay.

Get Up's national director Sam McLean said the technology had never been trialled in such an exposed location and posed huge environmental threats.

"The Fitzroy Delta is the largest estuary flowing on to the reef and is home to the rare snubfin dolphin and flatback turtle," he said.

"We need to protect this place.

"The environment minister has made public statements about protecting the Fitzroy Delta.

"But plans for this new port are still on the table."GetUp members are asking him to look at the facts and categorically reject this risky proposal.

" Footage obtained by GetUp showed similar technology in Indonesia, where significant amounts of coal were found along the surrounding beaches and children reported skin irritations, after playing in the waters of a nearby beach.

Mr McLean said, working 24 hours a day, each barge would carry up to 10,000 tonnes of coal at a time to the transhipper, a large vessel that would tie up to massive cargo ships anchored in the deeper exposed waters of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

"Light, dusty coal would be likely to blow into the marine environment, directly threatening the health of people and wildlife in the Fitzroy Delta and Keppel Bay - and ultimately, the reef itself.

"In calm conditions, it would take two to four days to load the coal from successive barges (via the transhipper) to fill each ship.

"But on 48% of days, wind at the proposed site exceeds the Mitchell Group's safe-loading limit of 25 knots, leaving the ships idle and at risk in the exposed waters of Keppel Bay."



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