(As published in full in the Townsville Bulletin, Tuesday 3 October, 2017 - "Dredging spells stress")
Port Expansion – not with a bang but a whimper!
The decision of the Queensland Coordinator General to approve the massive expansion of the Townsville Port is another sad day for anyone genuinely interested in the beauty, the attractiveness and liveability of Townsville.
Yes, the project was subject to environmental impact assessment, but to call this rigorous is not true. The system involves the port employing consultants to prepare a report on the impact of the proposed development. Public comments on this report are considered (or dismissed) by the port and it is the port who delivers the findings to the government. The fox is well and truly in charge of the hen-house.
The widening, deepening and endless annual maintenance dredging of the port access channel will have direct impacts on the reefs, sea grasses and marine environment on which many marine species (including dugongs, dolphins, turtles and fish) depend, and which generations of Townsvilleans have enjoyed over life times. With annual dumping of hundreds of thousands of maintenance dredge spoil in the waters between Magnetic Island and Cleveland Bay and this being continually re-suspended by currents and wind driven waves, how could this be otherwise?
Residents and visitors to the island will tell you that the reefs and marine environment have been declining for decades – the marine tourism experience for our children, ourselves and our tourists is much diminished, shamefully, on our watch.Read more
NQCC’s action on port expansion So far
The latest actions about the Port expansion were in later 2016 as comments were invited for the Additional Environmental Impact Statement. Click here to view the Additional Environmental Impact Statement for the Port expansion. Click here to read our submission outlining our concerns on the AEIS. We facilitated a forum on Magnetic Island RSL on 26 October 2016. Over 35 people attended with valuable contributions about how extended dredging affects them and their businesses.
Media release 19 October "The Port's muddy plan for local waters just got bigger"
port expansion plans
- new deepwater outer harbour
- 6 x additional berths in new harbour
- deepening and widening of existing approach channels
- reclamation of 152 hectares of existing harbour for new berths, bulk cargo storage and a rail loop. 
This table was taken from Port Expansion AEIS, Section 2 - Project Description, page 13-4.
The Port of Townsville is northern Australia's largest port, and the third largest in Queensland. More than 30 different commodity types are imported and exported through nine operational berths. Townsville is the number one port in Australia for exports in copper, zinc, lead and sugar. 
The Port has had expansion plans in the pipeline for years now, intially submitting their project application in April 2011. Such a project has significant environmental impacts, and NQCC has been acting to ensure protection of the natural environment and to promote ecologically sustainable development. In May 2011, the Queensland Government through the Coordinator-General, gazetted the project as a "coordinated project", triggering the requirement of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). Following this, the project application was referred to the Federal Government, and on 1 July 2011 the Minister for the Environment deemed the project a "controlled action". This is defined as a project that has the potential to have a significant impact on matters of national environmental significance and requires approval under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cwlth). In 2013 the EIS was released for public consultation (you can find our contribution here). The Queensland Coordinator-General decided that additional information was required, which brings us to late 2016, where we have the Additional Environmental Impact Statement (AEIS) now up for scrutiny.
Over the years NQCC has been very active on marine issues, and made offical submissions to:
- Great Barrier Reef Ports Strategy, 2012.
- multiple submissions on the Port of Abbot Point, in relation to expansion to support coal exports from the Galilee Basin (all submissions can be found here)
- The Federal Government's consultation regarding the Port of Townsville Expansion Environment Impact Statement (EIS), 2013
- The North East Shipping Management Plan, 2013.
- The Sustainable Ports Development Bill, 2015.
- Queensland's Draft Maintenance Dredging Strategy, 2016.
Welcome to the April issue of Paperbark. Our thoughts and well-wishes are with the communities to our south who felt the full force of Cyclone Debbie.
In this issue: Guarding the Galilee film screening – Special General Meeting – Stop Adani Alliance launched – Adani roadshow returns – Queensland Women’s Week event wrap up – Minister’s Environment Roundtable – upcoming local enviro events
Date savers (more details below)
27 April – “Guarding the Galilee” premiere documentary screening.
2 May – Special General Meeting regarding Port of Townsville expansion project campaign
12 May – ‘The Food We Eat: its impact on environments and bodies’ free public discussion
Protecting our ocean
Join us in celebrating the beautiful clear water of the northern tropics and safeguarding it from unnecessary dredging and other activities that muddy our wonderful Cleveland Bay – an ecological hotspot and fundamental to our unique lifestyle.
Let’s make one thing clear. We’re not here to close the Port of Townsville – just to make sure that excessive, damaging and unnecessary growth doesn’t destroy the wonderful marine environment and leisure activities we are privileged to enjoy in the waters of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.Read more
Happy new year and welcome to the first edition of Paperbark for 2017. We hope you had a refreshing break and are well-rested for the year ahead. We have a few good news stories below as well as some exciting events coming up in the months ahead.
We have big plans for 2017, and are happy to announce a new team member has come on board in making our plans a reality! Welcome to Tyler Peirce who has taken on the role of Community Campaigner.
Several campaigns we are involved in will reach critical points, and it is also very likely that this will be an election year.Read more
Another busy month at NQCC! November will be another eventful month, with Maree attending the Environment Roundtables with other Queensland enviro groups, NQCC hosting an intern, and our unmissable trivia night on the 19th – don’t forget to purchase your tickets!
In this issue: Townsville Port expansion – radioactive contamination at Ben Lomond – Adani ‘critical infrastructure’ – Hell’s Gate Dam forum wrap-up – fisheries reform – Marine Park review – Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement – NQCC’s trivia night – EOI for 2017 postcard exhibition.Read more
Click here to add your name to save our local waters from the Port’s muddy plan!
NQCC’S ACTION ON PORT EXPANSION
Media alert for Port forum 24 October “Community gathers about Port expansion plans”
Media release 19 October “The Port’s muddy plan for local waters just got bigger”
Community forum at Magnetic Island RSL 26 October – RSVP here.Read more
Paperbark is a monthly e-update of NQCC activities, campaigns, news and events.
Welcome to this month’s issue of Paperbark. We’d like to welcome a new staffer to the NQCC community – Jacob Miller. In the role of community campaigner, Jacob will be organising some big events coming up this year, producing media and written content on our site and improving NQCC’s community outreach. Welcome Jacob!
In this issue: Proposed funding cuts to ARENA – ACF loses court case to Adani – Queenslands climate change action policy – Toxic lead dust from Townsville port – Burdekin Dry Tropics Regional NRM published – Interactive sea level rise modelling launched – Upcoming events – General notices.Read more
Guest post by Charlie McColl, NQCC’s representative on the Port Stakeholders Working Group.
New data coming from updated monitoring equipment at the Townsville waterfront appears to confirm long-held community concern about heavy metal pollution being carried in dust emanating from the state-owned Port of Townsville. As long ago as 2010 a Queensland Government report concluded that:
While compliance with EPP (Air) objectives was maintained at all times, the monitoring program identified that dust emissions from Townsville Port activities did contribute to ambient levels of Total Suspended Particles [TSP], lead, copper, zinc, arsenic and cadmium, and to lead deposition, at the closest monitoring site, Coast Guard. Measurable contributions of these pollutants from Townsville Port activities at monitoring sites located further from the Port were only observed for lead.
Queensland Health has concluded that the total exposure to lead from inhalation and ingestion of dust in the residential community areas near the Townsville Port is highly unlikely to be associated with any known adverse health effects.
In this issue: Welcome back; Feeling the heat; NQCC News in brief; Carmichael Mine; Contaminated dust deposition; Water issues; A GLOBAL agreement on climate change – Paris December 2015; Divestment – Westpac commitment, Market Forces ‘Burned’ Report; improved SuperSwitch; Decarbonisation – Inspiration for Action; Earth Hour; Townsville Against Live Export; Turning clicktivists into real-world activists; Diary Dates.
It seems crazy to be wishing people a happy new year when we are over a 10th of the way through 2016 – but we do hope that the year ahead will be a good one for you and yours.