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Australia Earth Science

Australia OKs Dumping Dredge Waste In Barrier Reef 277

An anonymous reader writes "Australia's Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority has approved the dumping of 3 million cubic meters of dredge waste in park waters. The decision has been blasted by environmentalists. 'This is a sad day for the reef and anyone who cares about its future,' said WWF Great Barrier Reef campaigner Richard Leck. 'The World Heritage Committee will take a dim view of this decision, which is in direct contravention of one of its recommendations.'"
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Australia OKs Dumping Dredge Waste In Barrier Reef

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 03, 2014 @12:26AM (#46137913)

    And like most other pronouncements made by a government authority which are expected to attract negative publicity, this decision was made and released on a Friday afternoon.

    Had it been something for which the government authority wanted maximum publicity, they would have made the announcement at the start of the week. (Sunday. Monday.)

    I hate it when government departments work the news cycle ... it feels dirty.

  • Re:As an Australian, (Score:4, Interesting)

    by coolsnowmen ( 695297 ) on Monday February 03, 2014 @12:31AM (#46137931)

    As an average American, I understand.

  • Re:By reef... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by LordLucless ( 582312 ) on Monday February 03, 2014 @12:50AM (#46138027)

    There's a good reason they don't dump a million tonnes of rubble near residential zones. the dust kicked up alone would play havoc with local residents.

    For how long? You might get a couple of dusty days until it all settles down again. Hardly a national emergency. The reason they don't dump tonnes of rubble in residential zones is because the land is more valuable as real estate than a dumping ground, and millions of tonnes of rubble takes up a whole lotta space.

    But developing sustainable forestry is hard and cutting down old growth is easy. No point in even trying sustainable forestry (not like we're running out of old growth now are we).

    They've got plenty of sustainable forestry. But you can't scale up an industry if there's nowhere for it to scale out to - you need cleared land to plant the sustainable-growth forest. I'd have no problem with Tasmania limiting their own industry, if they weren't getting subsidised by the other states to keep them above water while they did it (Tasmania gets about twice the GST revenue, per capita, as most other states - NT being the exception).

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 03, 2014 @12:52AM (#46138037)

    Obama's blocking the Keystone pipeline of nearly benign carbon emissions and raped Ghadafi's government over a launching a few SCUDs at armed dissidents. Where's the NATO mission to oust these fucking psychos? First no-blood video games and now this?

  • Re:Sign the petition (Score:5, Interesting)

    by deek ( 22697 ) on Monday February 03, 2014 @01:51AM (#46138321) Homepage Journal

    The conditions require that sediment entering the marine park be reduced by 150 percent over the long term -- a "net benefit" to water quality -- and that $81 million be contributed to reef conservation programs and specific measures observed to protect marine flora and fauna.

    It's important to note the sea floor of the approved disposal area consists of sand, silt and clay and does not contain coral reefs or seagrass beds.

      Hmmm, this decision could actually be a benefit to the reef, not a detraction. I'd hope so, considering the park authority approved it. These are people who love the reef, are tasked with the job of protecting the reef, and are presumably experts in marine ecology and environment. They approved it. I'd say it's a very good chance that they made a good decision.

  • Re:By reef... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ChunderDownunder ( 709234 ) on Monday February 03, 2014 @02:08AM (#46138405)

    Or, you know, Americans could just adapt when they come to visit.

    Lots of scary things in Australia - the metric system, driving on the left, dunnies that flush the opposite direction, 240V AC, summer in February etc.

  • Re:As an Australian, (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mjwx ( 966435 ) on Monday February 03, 2014 @02:19AM (#46138453)

    As an Australian with some ability to read and the knowledge that this "waste" is sand sucked up from the seabed a short distance away

    As an Australian with quite an ability to read, the ability to think and quite a bit of understanding on the subject, the "waste" is called silt and being quite fine (extremely fine sand) tends to travel quite a distance when dumped... This is why it cant be dumped closer to Abbott point, because it'll go straight back into the channel they were dredging.

    So dumping it on the great barrier reef is easier as transporting it to a safe dumping zone is expensive.

    You seem to think it's OK because it's sand, this is where your understanding of the subject ends, coral you see doesn't do too well when sand gets dumped on it and 25 KM away is definitely not far enough to ensure the silt does not reach the reef. Realistically the expansion at Abbott point should never have been approved.

  • Re:Sign the petition (Score:5, Interesting)

    by weilawei ( 897823 ) on Monday February 03, 2014 @03:32AM (#46138643) Homepage
    That's known as an appeal to authority. We hear them a lot on /., usually in reference to some policy made "for the children" or "to protect us". Save it for someone who cares. Citations or GTFO and don't make uselessly speculative comments. For example, you could cite WHICH experts approved it, since that would allow us to more easily judge if there's a financial motive or other outstanding bias which should not have factored into their decision, above and beyond their expert status.
  • Re:Sign the petition (Score:5, Interesting)

    by aurizon ( 122550 ) <bill.jackson@gma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Monday February 03, 2014 @09:01AM (#46139619)

    A lot depends on the amount of 'fines', very fine particles or clays that float in the water column and can drift for miles. These fines can coat the coral animal (which is busy filtering particles from the water column and eating the organic ones,) If the floating feed changes from 50% organic to 2% organic, the animals internal systems might become fatigued from dumping waste and not getting enough energy to fuel this waste separation - the animal starves.

    They might have to place water curtains to constrain the fines, which can only be done in low current areas, or add some flocculating agent to speed-settle the fines.
    The good thing is the Aussies claim they will make sure there are no wide ranging fines to foul corals - will they be right? What will happen with a cyclonic storm? Cyclonic storm happen a few times in the year and they fill the water column with waste fines - which the coral deal with - perhaps because storm fines also have organic content. Perhaps the way to assist the coral animal is to add a little extra fine food to 'pay' for the extra work the coral animal has to perform in processing useless fines.?

  • Re:come one (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Pav ( 4298 ) on Monday February 03, 2014 @09:31AM (#46139777)
    It might surprise you. Dredging like this basically closed the Gladstone mudcrab and barramundi fishery - the anerobic sediments contain trace elements which suddenly became bioavailable when exposed to oxygen. They were finding lesions on crab shells and fish from being exposed to copper, mercury, arsenic, aluminium, lead etc... I posted a link to a paper elsewhere in this thread.

In seeking the unattainable, simplicity only gets in the way. -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982