GPC responds to concerns about $80m dredging project
GLADSTONE Ports Corporation has responded to environmental concerns about its proposed $80m dredging project, following the impact of its last major dredging project.
The proposed Clinton Vessel Interaction Project would dredge 800,000m3 from the Clinton to make it safer for ships to move between Wiggins Island and RG Tanna terminals. During the public consultation period late last year a three-page letter was the only submission received, to which GPC has published its response.
The resident criticised the two-week public consultation period and said they did not have enough time to receive legal or expert advice on the submission.
It raised concerns about the Western Basin Dredging and Disposal Project, which took place between 2011 and 2013, and its impact on GPC's reputation, the fishing industry and the community's confidence in government agencies.
GPC said the WBDDP involved dredging 22.5 million tonnes, and much larger than the proposed new project which is expected to take four months.
In its response, GPC said studies into the sediment that would be dredged found sea grass and corals were unlikely to be "significantly affected" by the project.
Results from several studies found the sediments within the area are clean and chemically suitable to be placed within the Western Basin Reclamation Area, near Fisherman's Landing. It said flow-on impacts to threatened or migratory species were not expected.
"The Environmental Monitoring Procedure details a comprehensive water quality regime with water quality trigger levels and adaptive management strategies taking into account water quality requirements for sensitive receptors, in particular seagrass," it said.
The resident pointed to the alternative options to increase safety for ships moored at RG Tanna, including a lower speed limit, and said no ship had broken away from its moorings.
The lower speed limit for passing vessels is one of several changes introduced by the Regional Harbour Master in a bid to reduce the risks, which also includes using more tug boats to hold vessels at berth at RG Tanna Coal Terminal. But GPC said these measures were not long-term solutions.
"While administrative controls can mitigate the risks they do not remove the hazard and therefore do not provide permanent solutions to the problem," they said.
The dredging project would increase the width of the channel by 100m. GPC said the current issues were caused because cape size vessels that have a draft of more than 14 metres, have to pass within 80 metres of ships berthed at RG Tanna Coal Terminal.
"(It) results in forces imposed on the two vessels due to the displacement of water," the report said. "These forces may be sufficient to break mooring lines. In the extreme, the vessel could fully break away from the berth ... a significant failure of this nature could result in major incident with economic and environmental consequences."
The company hopes, pending approval, the dredging will be completed between June to October this year. See the full response online at gpcl.com.au/Pages/Clinton-Vessel-Interaction-Project.aspx.