But is the Bay OK?

The Federal Court has decided that Mr. Garrett’s decision was legal. Not sensible, good or bad for the environment, just legal. But is the Bay OK?

Mr. Garrett chose not to exercise his available powers to protect the environment. If he had wanted to, he could have ordered further investigations, looked more closely at the environmental record of the PoMC and Boskalis, or involved other relevant Ministers in his decision. But he didn’t – he just did the minimum - followed a process – not a process that will protect the environment – just a process.

Sir Humphrey would be satisfied, but Mr. Garrett having ticked the appropriate boxes is no comfort with Boskalis/PoMC ‘Dredging Alliance’ set to start its destructive work at The Entrance to the Bay this Friday 4th April, then follow up that 6 months of work with the completion of the toxic dump in the north of the Bay. 

But, is the Bay OK?

According to the PoMC it is. But then, PoMC did write the EMP! So how come the Bay is looking so murky?

17th March          23rd March                                                                                     

These satellite images from 17th and 23rd March 2008 show swirling plumes of turbidity throughout massive sections of the Bay, during a period of calm weather with no storms to exacerbate turbidity, so it seems this murky plume is entirely the work of the PoMC. They claim the project involves only 1% of the Bay, but it is clear that a lot more than 1% is going to be affected. (We assume PoMC arrive at their 1% estimate by merely calculating the area of sea bed as a percentage of the total area of the Bay making up the channels that will be dredged- and have conveniently ignored the water column above the dredged channels and spoil dumps and how that water column behaves). 

Despite the PoMC’s reports, Bay users are reporting cloudy unpleasant conditions and unusual amounts of sludge and flotsam on the beach. Imagine what the Bay would look like after two years of this. Let’s never forget that this murky plume will contain a cocktail of otherwise invisible toxins from the Yarra sediments, once dredging starts in the Yarra River.

What’s next?

Dredging at The Entrance on 4th April will see world class diving sites, threatened and migratory species, internationally significant wetlands, unique coral and sponge gardens (over 100 sponge species that exist nowhere else on earth) in the firing line. The 2005 Trial dredge removed a mere 27,000 m3 of rock at The Entrance, and over 6,000 m3 fell into the canyon and the adjacent Marine National Park, causing extensive damage which is predicted to continue for the next 30 years.

Soon 550,000 m3 of rock is to be removed at The Entrance. PoMC admit that perhaps 6,000 m3 of rock will still fall. We think it will be a lot more than that.

According to the 2004 EES Inquiry, removal of rock at The Entrance will allow at least 20 million m3 of extra water to flow in and out of the Entrance on every tide- that’s 4 times a day. That’s a lot of extra water and extra weight pounding on a fragile coastline, especially the internationally listed wetland areas of Mud Islands and Swan Bay and the fragile cliffs of Pt. Nepean - all adjacent to the Entrance where increased current strength and tidal flow will occur. (PoMC estimates additional 2-3 cms water levels in the Bay as a result of the project, on top of global warming impacts. Incidentally PoMC used IPCC 2007 sea level estimate data which is now widely accepted to be a gross underestimate of projected global warming induced sea levels).

That extra water is a deliberate addition on top of the expected, but gradual, global warming induced sea level rise. Channel deepening related higher water levels will occur swiftly – over just a few months of rock removal from The Heads. Extra water will impact our fragile coastline, already suffering the effects of global warming induced sea level rise and development pressures. It will impact on important and valuable low lying coastal infrastructure and properties, and wetlands of international significance……..all that risk just to please Mr. Brumby’s passion for big infrastructure projects. (The Bruun Rule states that for every 1 unit that water rises, it spreads horizontally 50-100 units. So a 3 cm increase in water level is up to a 3 metre inundation of low lying land).

Mr. Garrett has chosen to allow all this, presumably at the behest of his colleague Premier Brumby whose government presided over an SEES which manipulated the public consultation process so effectively that alternative views, independent science and challenge to PoMC’s science was not possible. Nor was consideration of alternatives to channel deepening allowed. The narrow Terms of Reference for the Inquiry ensured all eyes were shielded from that and that the focus remained on PoMC getting its way.

PoMC’s science was science purchased by the PoMC and then further massaged by them and compliant state agencies DSE and EPA. How do they sleep at night?

Let’s hope the soon to be convened Parliamentary Finance Committee takes a good hard look at Boskalis, the PoMC and its economic justifications for channel deepening, and blows it out of the water before it’s too late.

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