Coal, as children we feared to see it on Dec. 25, but little did we know the value of the black, combustible sedimentary rock. In today’s world coal is used as a valuable trade commodity, so much so that is has driven money-hungry companies to go to great lengths to obtain it.
In this case, the North Queensland Bulk Ports Corporation decided to dive into one of the world’s seven wonders, the Great Barrier Reef, to expand Abbot Point into one of the world’s biggest coal terminals. On Jan. 31, Australia approved a plan to dump large amounts of mud and sediment inside the marine park’s boundaries. The dumping will be on a sand bed.
The operation requires a massive dredging operation to make way for ships entering and exiting the port. To allow the ships to pass through, the operation will dump about 106 million cubic feet of dredged mud will be dumped within the marine park under the plan.
Environmentalists in Australia will not go down quietly.
The Environmental Defenders Office of Queensland are planning a lawsuit to challenge the dumping decision in the Federal Court, but have yet to secure a court date. They are representing the North Queensland Conservation Council and are funded by Getup!, an activist group which has raised $130,000 on the issue.
The group of scientists that have worked with the Environmental Defenders Office of Queensland are concerned with at the potential for sediment to spread and cover the coral reefs causing irreversible damage. According to the Australian Marine Conservation Society, fine sediment could travel up to 50 miles.
The Ports Corporation has fired backed and has said they have conducted a thorough, three-dimension modeling over two years to show sediment from the dumping would not damage the coral reef.
The chances of the environmentalist winning this case in the federal court are slim, so only time will tell how this operation will affect the 133,360 square mile ecosystem that holds hold to thousands of species of coral, fish, molluscs, jellyfish, sharks and whales.
But did the Australian government take into account what this might do to their tourist revenue? The pros may not outweigh the cons at this juncture.
Snorkeling in the world’s biggest and beautiful underwater ecosystem might be hindered by the sediment. Finding Nemo was already hard enough and just the fact that this has potential to cause irreversible damage could be a major blow to Australia’s image and revenue, but more importantly to the exotic wildlife that occupies the Great Barrier Reef.
As a society, we are looking into a future where money and tradable goods like oil and coal will dictate whether we take away some of the earth’s most natural beauties.
Is it worth it? Right now to countries and corporations it is.