The Abbot Point Coal Terminal © Tom Jefferson for Greenpeace

5 February 2014 — It’s a bit of a good news-bad news week in terms of the pursuit of fossil fuels in fragile areas, with Shell announcing the scrapping of their 2014 Arctic drilling plans following a US court ruling, while our own Barrier Reef has had its wellbeing gambled for the lure of increased coal exports.

The World Heritage-listed reef and marine park, already suffering coral bleaching and die-back from ocean warming, is under further threat from dredging works required for the expansion of the Abbot Point Coal Terminal.

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority this week approved a plan for three million cubic metres of dredging spoil to be dumped within the park area, despite lobbying by numerous scientists, reef experts and conservation groups.

The Abbot Point Expansion will make the port one of the biggest coal-handling ports in the world, and the expansion will include six new ship berths. The dredging is required to deepen the area around these berths.

The facility is expected to handle exports of coal from Queensland’s Galilee Basin, where mining magnates Gina Rinehart and Clive Palmer are among those negotiating leases.