The Townsville Port Expansion Additional EIS - it just gets worse!
A mechanical dredge -
the type intended for use in Cleveland Bay
Finally, in October 2016, a full three and a half years after community members had made their submissions on the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the proposed Port Expansion Project (see following story), the Port released an Additional EIS.
To the shock and horror of the community, the design revealed in the AEIS was radically different from that put forward in the March 2013 EIS.
Very quietly, in April 2016 the Port had submitted to the Federal government a request to vary the original proposal. Within days the Federal government approved the request based on the summary data submitted by the Port.
Under the new design, there would be:
a 15% increase in capital dredging
a 52% (52 ha) increase in loss of megafauna habitat to reclaim
a 236% increase in the duration of the dredging (from 4 to 10.5 years)
a 14-17% increase over the average annual maintenance dredging
an 8% increase in the length of the revetment wall
a 58 hectare increase in the dredging footprint
a massive increase in the use of mechanical (backhoe/grab) dredge equipment to the extent that it now accounts for 80% of all the dredging.
The proposed lengthening of the sea channel was reduced from 2.7 to 1 km so that it would no longer intrude into the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. As a result, the channel could not be deepened – despite this being the fundamental need outlined in the original EIS. Instead, inexplicably, the access channels (the Platpus and Sea channels) were widened from a uniform 92 metres to 120 metres at the entrance to the Sea channel widening to a massive 180 m at the harbour.
No substantial case is made for the proposed expansion, even though, as local can only too plainly see, the Port is significantly under-used.
Click to read MINCA's detailed submissions to both the State and Federal governments in relation to the AEIS.
The proposed expansion would be yet another damaging imposition on the ecological hotspot that is part of a severely compromised GBR World Heritage Area, and MINCA and will continue to campaign against this destructive and unnecessary expansion of the Port of Townsville.
The Townsville Port Expansion Plan - the EIS
A small dredge at work in Cleveland Bay
The Port Expansion Plan (PEP) is a plan to expand the harbour over a 25 year period. In the initial stage, beginning in 2014 or 2015, the Platypus and Sea Channels would be deepened in two stages, with the second deepening also involving the lengthening of the Sea Channel by 2.7 km. This would take it to the far northeasterly tip of the Island - past Alma, Arthur and Florence Bays. A new outer harbour would be built in stages, with six new berths being created.
A total of 9.9 m cubic metres of spoil would be dredged, of which 5.6 million cubic metres of what the EIS describes as “highly re-suspendible” “non-compactable” material, would be dumped in the Dredge Material Placement Area (DMPA) halfway between Cape Cleveland and Magnetic Island. This spoil would likely be in the form of a “liquid slurry”.
The “compactible” balance of the spoil would be used to create 100ha of port land for the outer harbour. This would stretch a further kilometre into the Bay towards the Island. In addition, about 5,650,000 tons of rock (188,000 truckloads) would be brought in from near the Pinnacles, and possibly other quarries, for breakwaters and revetments.
The intent of the PEP is to enable a doubling of vessel movements and an increase in vessel size.
So what's the problem?
The 5.6 million cubic metres of contaminated, highly re-suspendible dredged silt and mud dumped in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area between Cape Cleveland and Magnetic Island would not stay neatly where it was dumped. It would, as the EIS acknowledges, disperse with the currents. As a result it would smother coral reefs and the seagrass beds that support turtles and dugongs and damaging our magnificent marine environment, our lifestyle and tourism industry.
Dredging would be an ongoing problem, as the new longer, deeper channel would require ongoing dredging and subsequent dumping of silt in the World Heritage Area to maintain the channel.
Townsville foreshore would be dominated by the 100 hectares of reclaimed port land jutting out into the Bay with its mega industrial landscape featuring all the paraphernalia of heavy industry – lights, massive machinery, roads, rails and vast coal storage facilities.
For more concerns, see the MINCA/MICDA flier recently letterbox dropped to Island residences.
Hard copies of the full Environmental Impact Statement, prepared by consultants commissioned by the Port of Townsville, can be viewed at the Magnetic Island Golf Club and the Townsville (Northtown) Library.You can also view the document here - where you will find individual chapters and a table of contents.
What you can do
Now is the time to make your concerns known to the State and Federal governments.
Separate submissions are required for the State and Federal governments as the two must meet their own legislation. Submissions can be made to either levels of government or to both.
If you are concerned about the potential impact of the proposed port expansion but don’t wish to make a submission, send a letter or email to the relevant politicians, using the MICDA/MINCA flyer for ideas.
Making a submission to the State Government
To send an online submission click here. You can choose to simply add your personal details and click to email the letter to the Coordinator-General, or better still (because 'form' letters do not carry so much 'weight'), you can personalise the letter by putting it in your own words or adding issues that are important to you before you click and send it off.
The deadline for submissions to the State Government is 5pm on Monday 13 May 2013.
If you want to make a more detailed submission, there is a fact sheet and a submission form. A partially completed submission form with issues that you may care to raise can be found here. You do not have to use this form - you can also write a letter and send in an email.
The Coordinator-General must accept all properly made submissions and may accept written submissions even if they are not properly made. For a submission to be ‘properly made’, it must be made to the Coordinator-General in writing, received on or before the last day of the submission period (13 May), be signed by each person who makes the submission, and state the grounds of the submission and facts and circumstances relied on. Only a ‘properly made’ submission has appeal rights under the Sustainable Planning Act 2009.
Making a submission to the Commonwealth Government
The deadline for submissions to the Commonwealth Government is 5pm on Monday 27 May 2013 (two weeks later than the deadline for submissions to the State Government).
There is a fact sheet on making Commonwealth submissions. An online submission and dot points for submissions to the Federal government will be here on the website on Wednesday 15 May.
MINCA's extensive submission to the Port Authority is available here. Feel free to use points made in this submission for your letters to the Commonwealth, Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and the relevant politicians.