One million tons of industrial spoil is to be dumped near the Great Barrier Reef after its Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) has approved of the plans.
In an act to protect the reef, sludge dumping nearby has been prohibited since 2015. However, the law doesn't ban spoil created during port maintenance work.
'The last thing the reef needs'
Senator for The Greens party, Larissa Waters, told The Guardian: "The last thing the reef needs is more sludge dumped on it, after being slammed by the floods recently.
"One million tonnes of dumping dredged sludge into world heritage waters treats our reef like a rubbish tip.”
'A cheaper alternative'
Critiquing the law's loophole against sludge dumping, Waters argues the distinction makes 'little difference to the reef, stating: "Government policy needs to change to ban all offshore dumping, so GBRMPA is not allowed to permit the reef’s waters to be used as a cheaper alternative to treating the sludge and disposing of it safely onshore."
In an online statement, North Queensland Bulk Ports said:" Our assessment reports have found the risks to protected areas including the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and sensitive habitats are predominantly low with some temporary, short-term impacts to (bottom-dwelling) habitat possible."