Coal terminal approved. New risks revealed.

Feature Story - 9 October, 2012
Federal Environment Minister Burke has approved the ‘T3’ coal terminal in a World Heritage Area. Documents we obtained expose the flawed environmental process and the threat to endangered bird species.
©Greenpeace/Tom Jefferson

Plans to dramatically increase Australia’s coal exports depend on building new coal mines in the Galilee Basin and new coal terminals in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. Now the first of new coal terminals, known as T3, has been given the green light by the Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke, opening up the fragile Reef for further industrialisation.

If T3 goes ahead, the Reef will suffer a huge increase in shipping traffic, millions of tonnes of sea floor will be dredged and the habitat of marine animals, like dugongs and turtles, will be destroyed.

The approval also threatens internationally significant wetlands and wildlife.

The Caley Valley wetlands are situated adjacent to the proposed T3 terminal at Abbot Point. GVK Hancock, the coal company developing T3, stated in its environmental assessment that the Caley Valley wetlands are not considered important migratory shorebird habitat.

This assessment is incorrect.

Greenpeace obtained documents under right to information laws that show the wetlands are highly important.

In fact, there are 18 endangered, vulnerable or near-threatened bird species located there. This includes the threatened species Australian Painted Snipe, which is found in significant numbers.

The Federal Environment Minister approved the coal terminal based on false information that didn’t reflect the ecological importance of the wetland. This adds to the growing list of environmental threats of proposed coal projects. The government is also ignoring strong recommendations by UNESCO – the guardians of World Heritage – to not proceed with further developments in the World Heritage Area.

Tell Environment Minister Burke to retract the T3 approval, as it didn’t consider essential environmental information, and to protect our Reef, wildlife and wetlands from coal.

TAKE ACTION: Contact Tony Burke