Dredging halted in harbour

Much of the spoil from the Western Basin Dredging Project is to be dumped inside the bund wall at Fishermans Landing.
Much of the spoil from the Western Basin Dredging Project is to be dumped inside the bund wall at Fishermans Landing. David Sparkes

ONE of the dredgers in Gladstone Harbour has halted operation until Monday, due to concerns over turbidity in the harbour.

The newly constructed bund wall at Fisherman's Landing has allowed more seepage than expected on extremely low tides.

Gladstone Ports Corporation said the seepage had been one factor contributing to turbidity in the harbour. It said the other factors were high winds and extreme tidal movements, which naturally increase turbidity.

The cutter suction dredge Al Mahaar will be stopped and moved over the weekend to a location 500m further north. It will resume operation on Monday.

Backhoe dredging operations, which transport dredge spoil to an offshore location outside the harbour, will not be paused.

GPC CEO Leo Zussino said dredge spoil was not seeping through the bund wall.

He said turbidity was caused by water seeping through the wall on extreme low tides at such a rate it stirred up the seabed outside the wall. The liner within the bund wall was designed so dredge spoil placed against the liner would seal the bund.

Mr Zussino said, as a result of the turbidity, spoil would not be dumped inside the bund wall during periods of extreme tides.

"The plan ahead is to look at ways we can actually seal the inside of the bund wall and while we are doing that we'll stop dredging on the (extreme) tides so we don't have exceedence of turbidity," he said.

Queensland Seafood Industry Association CEO Winston Harris responded to the news by calling for action from the Environment Minister Vicky Darling.

"If this information is correct, on behalf of the commercial fishermen of Gladstone we call on the Environment Minister to investigate the matter urgently," Mr Harris said.

"Fishing has been stopped in Gladstone Harbour because of diseased fish and the cause is unknown.

"If there is a bund wall that is seeping (and therefore) increasing turbidity in the harbour, then the minister needs to investigate and provide assurances to the fishing industry that no further dredging will take place until the problem is rectified."

Topics:  dredging gladstone harbour festival gladstone ports corporation turbidity

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