Coal Industry Wants to Dump on Great Barrier Reef, and It’s Been Approved

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park is treasured by many, but Australian officials seem to see no problem with dropping millions of tons of mud into the area. Recently, the government, along with the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, approved a plan to dump sediment into the water, which conservationists expect will further endanger an already vulnerable environment.

If that doesn’t sound like enough of an ecological disaster, just wait until you hear who benefits from this dumping: the coal industry. The Abbot Point coal port wants to expand, but needs to complete this dredging in order to make room for its growing operations. There’s nothing like hurting the environment in one manner to more efficiently hurt the environment in another.

Technically, the dump will not occur directly atop the actual coral, a point the proponents of the plan are quick to mention. However, critics and eco-activists believe that completing this action beside the coral will still have massive consequences.

“When you dump sand and sediment, a lot of it is suspended in the water. It will travel out of the reef, and that is our concern,” Felicity Wishart, a spokesperson for the Australian Marine Conservation Society, told Al Jazeera. “The sediment will cut out light and make it much more difficult for seagrass and coral to survive.”

Additionally, the presence of more coal ships in the area puts the Great Barrier Reef at a continued risk. Not only could boats collide into the coral, but also, the oil could spill. Though there are regulations that prevent new businesses from developing in this area, the rules permit existing operations to expand, thereby allowing Abbot Point to dump sediment, as far as the authorities are concerned.

However, activists are certainly speaking out. The Care2 community already created a popular petition that calls on Greg Hunt, the Minister for the Environment in Australia, to intervene. Meanwhile, Green Peace has released a similarly exasperated statement: “Green lighting the reef’s destruction makes a mockery of the Authority’s charter, which obliges it to protect the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and the World Heritage Area.”

Sadly, the Great Barrier Reef just can’t seem to catch a break. This region has suffered in a number of other ways recently:

Given all of these existing obstacles, it seems downright irresponsible to introduce a new harmful element to the Great Barrier Reef. Join more than 60,000 Care2 community members in calling for a stop to this dangerous reef-dumping plan by signing this petition!


Carrie-Anne Brown

already signed, thanks for sharing :)

James Campbell
James Campbell2 years ago

With apologies to any Australians on this forum and my friends in Australia, I must be honest and say, that with many notable exceptions, I wish Europeans had never discovered this continent. LIke New Zealand (where I used to live) Australia has/had some of the rarest creatures in earth and a unique people who did live in harmony with the land.

Allowing free-for-all land crab in the first years of colonisation plus using the vast spaces as a penal colony, man has systematically worked to destroy what the first non-aboriginal settlers found. Tasmania too was an open-air slaughter house, Hunting wildlife and the indigenous people to extinction. I salute those Australians who, in growing numbers are saying “no more” and take risks to preserve the country they cherish. They do so, not for themselves alone, but a world that will be a poorer place without the REAL Australia.

Val M.
Val M.2 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Jennifer H.
Jennifer H.2 years ago

It does seem to me that the Aussie government has become very anti-environmental with many of the decisions they have been making. Shark culls, coal dumps, koala issues, etc. They used to be the positive example to follow now they are negatively affecting the environment. I hope this issue shows the government that its people won't be walked on when it comes to their home land.

Ros G.
Ros G.2 years ago

"And if continental shift continues the way it has in the last few million years - Australia will become part of Asia and the barrier reef will no longer exist." Janice T said "Jacob R is making sense."

Politically we will become part of Asia (China) before this geographical shift happens..

Janice..where do you see your children let and your grandchildren in 50 years time...let alone in a million years time...

The Great Barrier Reef is under threat from so many things..maybe the radiation from Fukushima will get to it before the last bet is that the Continental plates will shift before this can happen.

Yes, Environmental are????..that's why Governments hate us. The next time you hold an innocent live in your hands and I mean any life...can you truly say...I have done everything I can to protect it??

Alorha Breaw
Alorha Breaw2 years ago

Ros, thank you so much for the update!
And a special thank you to all the people standing strong!!!

Ros G.
Ros G.2 years ago

For those of you still following this is an update
From: GetUp! Date: 2/10/2014 8:59:25 PM

"This is nothing short of miraculous. We are overwhelmed by the determination of GetUp supporters!" - Environmental Defenders' Office (EDO) Queensland Solicitor Jo Bragg.


They must have assumed they'd had the final word.

When Greg Hunt and the Marine Park Authority approved dumping of five million tonnes of seabed inside Reef waters, it was supposed to be campaign over. Vested interests had won, and our Reef would be sold out for short-term profits.

Instead, something incredible happened. Thousands of GetUp members put their own money forward to launch a citizens' Reef Fighting Fund. We've never seen anything quite like it.

All up, more than 16,000 people have donated so EDO Queensland and North Queensland Conservation Council can take this fight to the courts. Together, we're contributing $130,000 to the legal case right off the bat – $50,000 more than our original target! GetUp members have also ensured we have the resources to fund a strong ongoing campaign that won't shy away from other hard-hitting legal, legislative and corporate tactics.

Thank you to everyone who's made this possible.

Janice Thompson
Janice Thompson2 years ago

Spammer flagged.

Jacob R is making sense.

Mary L.
Mary L.2 years ago

Signed and tweeted.

Julie D.
Julie D.2 years ago

Greed is systematically destroying every bit of natural beauty and source of planetary health in our world. Very tragic.