A recent investigation by the Queensland Government has discovered a huge coal spillage at a mining port in waters near the UNESCO World Heritage Site the Great Barrier Reef. The research was initiated due to complaints of coal and fine black dust debris washing up at the East Point beach, which is located close to Mackay.
The team says that coal dust can destroy coral and impede the growth of seagrasses. The ABC reports that the coal was also detected at the Lousa Creek Beach, which is located close to the two export terminals of Hay Point–the biggest coal port near the Great Barrier Reef.
The Environment Minister Steven Miles said that he has been informed about the investigation, which included video footage as well as photos taken by the local residents. Miles explains that he will try to find out how the problem affects the local marine life.
“I will seek advice about how this coal could be impacting on local marine life,” the Environment Minister pointed out. “The footage I’ve seen suggests it’s in a pretty solid state and is washing up onto the beach.” The study involved assessing the coal terminals at Hay point by officers from the environment department. This happened last month, the ABC states.
“That investigation has found one larger and one smaller source of coal spillage,” Miles asserts. “But it’s not possible yet to say if [Hay Point] is the source of the coal that has washed up on those beaches.”
The department officers have found that coal has been significantly spilled in the waters from one of the ship loaders at Hay Point. The team also says that the samples of the coal they gathered on the beach were already sent to a laboratory in order to confirm where it came from.
“There are multiple terminals, multiple ships running through those terminals,” notes Miles.”So we do need to see this investigation proceed. I am seeking and receiving regular briefings. So nobody should doubt that this is being taken very seriously, and when the source is identified then the environment department will take appropriate action.”
Recently, it was also reported that the Great Barrier Reef is not on the brink of being included in UNESCO’s “in danger” list. However, the Queensland Government said that they could prevent this if they follow the plan provided by the Queensland and federal governments to improve its current situation.