For Abbot Point Update followers, it’s a case of ‘too long between drinks’. So, we’ll keep the apologies short and get into it.
As the sun went down on our last blog, Deputy Premier Seeney has just announced that he had forsaken sea dumping and had found a site for onshore disposal – something that until then had been deemed, after a number of assessments by consultants for the proponents, to be infeasible on environmental and/or technical and/or economic grounds.
Rumours circulated for a month or so until, on 3 October, Mr Seeney referred a specific site to the Federal Minister for consideration under the EPBC Act. There were two referrals, one relating to the dredging and spoil disposal, the other, relating to the plan for the wetland.
It came as a shock. The spoil was to be dumped in a trigger area of the Caley Valley Wetlands Protection Area (pictured), an action which, according to Mr Seeney, would result in ‘protection and enhancement of the Wetlands’.
Unfortunately, much of the detail was missing – as in it was in studies that were yet to be done. And, importantly, the referral contained the sentence, ‘If this action does not obtain approvals allowing onshore placement of dredge material in a timely manner, then project proponents that need to dredge at Abbot Point will have no option but to dispose material (sic] in the GBR Marine Park in accordance with existing approvals’. In other words, if this isn’t done as quickly as we would like, we’ll go back and dump the spoil in the Marine Park, because you’ve already given us an approval for that.
In that case, our AAT case would be reinvigorated and we would expect the challenge to continue on.
There are any number of issues that have gone unaddressed in the referral document provided to Mr Hunt by Mr Seeney. And the first thing that Mr Hunt must do is to look at the material and decide what type of assessment he will subject it to. He could forsake all pretence of rigorous assessment and ask for no further documentation – or he could open it up to public scrutiny; a decision that could in itself be challenged.
So, one way or the other, the issue is unlikely to be over yet
One of the most bizarre suggestions by Mr Seeney was that this would increase the attractiveness of the wetlands to tourism. It is hard to see how running a four metre high bund wall around three sides of the main part of the wetland and topping that with a railway line for coal trains going 24/7 could do that.
Of, and one more thing, whereas the Port and users of the port would have picked up the tab for offshore dumping, it would be the public who would pay for onshore dumping…
NQCC’s media response to the latest proposal by Mr Seeney, Wetlands the new scapegoat in bizarre Abbot Point plan, can be found here.
And in other related media, on 6 October, ABC’s Lateline ran a story about the drastic loss of staff and expertise at GBRMPA – referred to by the Chair and CEO, Dr Russell Reichelt, as part of ‘evolutionary change’… The Lateline program provides great footage of the wetlands adjoining the coal stockpiles.
Abbot Point Update 6 (5.9.14) – Administrative Appeals Tribunal August hearing • The search for a new dump site
Much to cover in this somewhat late report.
HOT OFF THE PRESS (8/9/14) – See NQCC’s media release on Deputy Premier Seeney’s shock announcement about land-based spoil disposal
On Friday 22 August, NQCC was in the Tribunal for a hearing before Deputy President of the AAT, Mr Hack. The purpose of the hearing was basically to see where Minister Hunt and North Queensland Bulk Ports (NQPB) were in the development of the case.
As previously reported, Mr Hack (and the Minister) had, earlier this year, agreed with NQCC that is would be pointless and a waste of everybody’s time and money to go to a full hearing until the alternative disposal site had been identified by NQBP and approved by Mr Hunt. read more
Update 5 (25.7.14) – Senate Hearing • Dredging, Dumping & Coral Disease • 589 Biologists call for ‘rethink’ on Abbot Point • AMPTO
The Senate hearing into the Reef, the Townsville part of which was held last Wednesday (see NQCC’s front page story), could hardly have happened without reference to Abbot Point.
The notes to which NQCC Coordinator Wendy Tubman spoke can be read here: Address to Senate Reef Hearing in Townsville, July 2014. While NQCC chose to focus on issues other than Abbot Point, it featured strongly in the comments of many others giving evidence. read more
Update 4 (8.7.14) – Media, media, media • Adani threatens withdrawal • AIMS queries modelling • Those offsets
Whoops – 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. read more
Update 3 (20.6.14) – The DOHA decision • Hay Point • The future 165 M cu m • An appeal
Probably everyone reading this has caught up with the outcome of the World Heritage Committee meeting in Doha earlier this week. Just in case, in a nutshell, the Committee declared that they were still so concerned about the state of the Reef and the management thereof, that they would keep the ‘Sword of Damocles’ hanging over it. In other words, unless things improved dramatically, at its 2015 meeting it would consider putting the Area on the ‘World Heritage in Danger’ list. read more
Update 2 (12.6.14) – Access to documents • OPDs • Hay Point • UNESCO
Focus on Abbot Point (and there has been much of it) since our last Update has been on: identifying which of the thousands of documents now available to NQCC can be made public; analysis of further documents (FOI documents relating to work done by SKM on spoil movement and ‘OPDs’ made available through the parliamentary process of ‘Order to Provide Documents’); and liaison with potential expert witnesses (more of that next time)… read more
Update 1 (5.6.14) – The Minister • BURP • FOIs • Deferral pending site selection
Hi and welcome to the first regular (weekly?) update on NQCC’s challenge to the Abbot Point dumping decision – that’s the one whereby GBRMPA gave a permit to North Queensland Bulk Ports (NQBP) to dump 3 million cubic metres of dredge spoil in the GBR Marine Park of Abbot Point as part of a proposal to turn Abbot Point into the world’s biggest coal export facility.
So… while it might seem as if it’s been ‘all quiet on the eastern front’ in relation to the case, the reality is that there’s been … read more