Abbot Point Update 4

UnknownWhoops – somewhat more than a week since our last Update, but it has largely been a case of more of the same… poring through documents, honing our case. In the meantime, however, the story is alive and kicking in the media.

On Monday 30 June, the Australian Financial Review revealed how Adani (one of the main drivers of the Abbot Point development) had, via the Administrative Appeals Tribunal process in which NQCC is involved, informed the Minister for the Environment that there is ‘a real risk the project will not proceed’ if dredging does not occur between 1 March and 30 June 2015.

Despite apparently agitating for an early hearing of the Abbot Point legal case and a speedy resolution of the Abbot Point development, Adani had, just weeks before, abandoned plans to develop terminals at Dudgeon Point (south of Abbot Point) due to weakening demand for coal.

In a somewhat confused statement, Adani appeared to attribute the risk of Abbot Point not proceeding to the fact that NQ Bulk Ports had yet to identify the final dump site for Abbot Point as well as to the fall in the price of coal.

The same day, Monday 30 June, ABC PM revealed that the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) regarded the modeling of dredge spoil movement done for the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority as ‘deficient’ and ‘flawed’. The report found ‘significant uncertainty’ when it came to the magnitude and impacts associated with dredging.

In a Media Release, NQCC noted further deficiencies when it came to monitoring the impact of dredging and dumping. NQCC’s Jeremy Tager stated that, ‘When [the AIMS] report was released last year we learned that dredge plumes travel further than previously understood, and sometimes in directions not predicted by port modeling. But now we learn that sediments are resuspended more frequently and for longer periods, well outside the boundaries of where monitoring has occurred’.

And in today’s AFR (8 July), Jenny Wiggins returns to the Abbot Point story with an article on the offsets condition imposed at Abbot Point. The Minister made the dumping permit conditional upon NQ Bulk Ports preventing the run-off from the Burdekin and Don catchments of one and a half times the amount of resuspendible sediment dumped in the Marine Park off Abbot Point. Scientists, like GBRMPA staff last year, are questioning how possible it would be to meet this condition.

Three different stories in major media outlets over just eight days – clear evidence of ongoing media interest in the story, and a sure sign of the importance of this issue for the people.