Concerns over dredging of Northeast Business Park

Moreton Bay, stretching from Caloundra to the Gold Coast, is SE Qld’s prized waterway.
An environmental group has raised fears dredging associated with the proposed Northeast Business Park (NBP) will cause irreparable damage to the Caboolture River and Moreton Bay Marine Park.

Bribie Island Environmental Protection Association (BIEPA) president Ian Bell warned that dredging would create silt and disturb acid sulphate soils (ASS) causing the release of dangerous metals.

Mr Bell said the iron released would promote the growth of lyngbya, the aluminium would kill marine life and the silt would block sunlight and cover seagrass beds.

This would not only affect the river but also Deception Bay and Pumicestone Passage, he said.
Northeast Business Park Pty Ltd wants to dredge a channel from about 1km east of the mouth of the Caboolture River to 6.5km upstream.

Another 150m x 30m area would be need to excavated for the marina entrance.

The Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) said a total of about 545,000 cum material would be removed by ``cutter suction’’ dredges which would act like underwater vacuum cleaners.

The EIS says all soil in the dredging area should be regarded as possibly being ASS but it could be managed to avoid environmental harm.

NBP chief executive Jeff Smith said the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had strict guidelines that would govern dredging, if it was approved.

Mr Smith said the process would be monitored by the EPA and there would have to be a dredging management plan in place before it started.

He responded to questions about the possible escape of material, and its impacts, by referring to the EPA’s requirements.

Mr Bell said: ``This material is so fine they can’t stop it all.’’

Moreton Bay Regional Council Deputy Mayor Greg Chippendale told Tuesday’s co-ordination committee meeting ``there should be some real concerns’’ about dredging the river.

Cr Chippendale pointed to the effects of dredging on the Brisbane River and improvement in the river’s condition when dredging stopped as evidence of the ramifications.

In July 2006 the Federal Environment and Heritage Minister determined the project constituted ``a controlled action’’ because it could affect listed threatened species and/or ecological communities.