Halt the Dredging – Same problem same solution

Date 14 March 2012

Activists Halt Dredging in Gladstone Harbour

Marking the last day of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee visit to Australia protesters descended on Gladstone Harbour and stopped dredging. Mark (Potts) Driscoll chained himself to the harbour dredge Razende Bol and Rotterdam boat, shutting down the controversial development of the Coal Seam Gas LNG port facility on Curtis Island in Gladstone Queensland.

Potts Driscoll and Friends of the Earth have taken this action to remind the voting public of the beauty and environmental values of the Great Barrier Reef. Today signifies the last day of the World Heritage Committee's mission with this symbolic action to bring attention back to Gladstone and the destructive dredging.

“The dredging activities in Gladstone are a crime against the environment. The LNG facilities in Gladstone are another part in the destructive Coal Seam Gas industry in Queensland. This industry is destroying our farmland, polluting our water systems, and killing the Great Barrier Reef,” said Friends of the Earth spokesperson Drew Hutton.

“Today is the final day of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee monitoring mission to Australia. We want to send a clear reminder to the World Heritage team that Gladstone harbour is being killed and the dredging by the Coal Seam Gas industry is the cause”.

The visit by UNESCO was initiated by Gladstone locals over their concern for Gladstone Harbour and the massive industrial development, dredging and fish kills. In June 2011 the Australian Government was requested by UNESCO's World Heritage Committee to ‘please explain’ why it should be able to maintain World Heritage declaration over the Great Barrier Reef for allowing LNG projects within the Great Barrier Reef marine park.

Potts Driscoll has just completed a 550km walk from Dalby (Kumbarilla) to Gladstone to see for himself what the CSG (Coal Seam Gas) industry is doing to our countryside and Gladstone Harbour. Walking with 71 year old June Norman for 28 days along the proposed CSG pipeline and Wandoan mega coal mine railway line.

“Friends of the Earth calls for an immediate halt to all dredging activities and construction of the LNG ports in Gladstone Harbour,” said Drew Hutton.

The recent Gladstone Fish Health study conducted by the Queensland Government acknowledged the study parameters and research data were inadequate to make a final judgment on the cause of the terrible disease that has killed countless dugongs, turtles and fish.

“Friends of the Earth calls for an immediate halt to further major developments approvals in the Great Barrier Reef catchment until the Strategic Assessment is completed to the World Heritage Committee's satisfaction.”

“Friends of the Earth calls on the the UNESCO World Heritage Committee to pass a resolution at its June 2012 meeting to declare the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage in Danger, and move towards removing World Heritage status from Australia”, said Hutton.

“We need to shake things up. Surely it is time for our leaders to call a stop to this madness. The fishers of Gladstone are out of work, the harbour marine life is dying, and the World Heritage Committee have come to see the damage themselves. What more do we need to know before we stop the dredging?” said Hutton.

Findings from fisheries veterinarian Matt Landos counters the findings of the Gladstone Fish Health study by the Queensland Government. The report is due within 2 months. Initial comments released Monday, 12 March, are contrary to the State Government report stating the 2010 floods is unlikely to be the cause of the Gladstone harbour fish kill.

Gladstone Harbour and surrounding waterways of the Fitzroy River delta are set to undergo massive development to accommodate the Surat Basin and lower Bowen Basin's new coal and CSG LNG (Coal Seam Gas and Liquified Natural Gas) export port facilities. Current figures show Gladstone Harbour will accommodate export facilities for an additional 9 Coal Mines and 4 LNG projects, in addition to the current export from existing mines.

The dredging continues. Gladstone locals, fishers, and tourism operators have had enough.