O’Dowd concerned over marine deaths
Posted on Monday, 1 August 2011
Federal Member for Flynn Ken O’Dowd has again emphasised the need for stringent environmental controls over the coal seam gas industry and associated dredging in Gladstone Harbour following this week’s funding announcement for the third major Liquified Natural Gas plant on Curtis Island.
ORIGIN Energy announced the final investment decision on its Australian Pacific LNG project (APLNG) at a total expected cost of about $20 billion.
Mr O’Dowd said he was aware of the continuing deaths of marine animals in the harbour and concerns expressed to his office by members of the public as well as professional fishermen about the health of some mud crabs in the harbour.
“I support the coal seam gas developments and the associated LNG plants on Curtis Island, providing strict environmental controls are adhered to and landholders rights are upheld in negotiations with the gas companies,” Mr O’Dowd said.
He stressed that the construction of the LNG plants and associated harbour dredging should only proceed if every precaution was taken to protect marine animals such as dolphins, dugongs, turtles and other marine life including commercial food species.
“Dredging started in May, and a number of residents have contacted my office expressing concern at the continuing marine animal deaths which are still the subject of scientific examination,” Mr O’Dowd said.
“I am not saying the dredging is responsible, but it is obviously one aspect which should be considered.
“Once all these issues are resolved I can see a big future for the LNG industry for Gladstone and Australia as a new clean energy source,” he said.
Three dead dolphins were found in Gladstone Harbour in May, four dead dugongs have also been found since May and more than 40 turtles have washed up dead in the harbour since April. The turtle deaths have been the subject of intense debate between environmentalists and commercial fishermen with both depletion of seagrass beds and netting being blamed.
Gladstone Harbour’s dredging project, reportedly the largest in Australia’s history, began on May 20. Project manager of environment and approvals for the Western Basin Dredging Project, Peter O’Sullivan, told a Gladstone Resource Industry update in June that the Big Boss dredger had been removing 3500 cubic metres a day since the project started.
Mr O’Sullivan described the sheer enormity of the project:
“All up, just for the LNG industry, it is about 25 million cubic metres of dredging,” he said.
About five million cubic metres of material would be dumped offshore. A further 20 million cubic metres would be dumped onshore.
“Our other major goal, apart from meeting our deadlines, is to set new levels in terms of environmental standards for a dredging project of this size,” he said.
Mr O’Dowd said in addition to the marine environment, there should be strict controls to protect the Great Artesian Basin and strategic cropping lands from coal seam gas and other mining developments.