Revelations today that the Port of Melbourne Corporation (PoMC) has failed to clean up after itself at The Heads is not surprising, nor was it a surprise that the Corporation was slow to reveal the facts on the issue.


“The Port Corporation has a long history of failing to disclose information until the eleventh hour” says Jenny Warfe Blue Wedges Spokesperson.

No penalty for this breach of the ‘rulebook’ has been applied and PoMC officials are reportedly confident that “minimal environmental damage” would have occurred to nearby colonies of rare sea sponges....... Just as they hailed the 2005 Trial Dredge a success, but later had to admit the trial had caused serious rockfall events and ongoing disintegration of the Port Phillip Heads seabed. 

In 2005, The Port Corporation claimed only 20 m3 of rocks had fallen during Trial dredging. In fact around 6,000 m3 of rock tumbled over rare and delicate sponges into the canyon 100 metres below. It wasn’t until independent divers were able to access the area that the full extent of the damage was revealed to the public.


In 2007, the Corporation again failed to disclose crucial documents regarding toxic sediments, water quality and bioaccumulation studies during the Public Inquiry. Those documents underscore inadequacies in the human health risks assessment presented to the public in the SEES released earlier that year. What’s more, on the last day of the Inquiry, a report by consultants SKM was produced, revealing ongoing damage at The Heads from rock scour and erosion as a result of the 2005 Trial Dredge. The report even admits that mobile rocks will be an ongoing hazard to shipping, with rock mounds up to 2 metres height accumulating in the Great Ship Channel.

“Due to the Port Corporation’s tardiness in releasing these documents (and who knows what else hasn’t been released?) the public is mostly unaware of many additional risks well known by the PoMC but only revealed after the Supplementary Environmental Effects Statement (SEES) was released” says Ms. Warfe. 


“It’s time for Mr. Brumby and Mr. Garrett to call a halt to the dredging project” says Ms. Warfe. “Federal Environment Minister Garrett has a moral imperative to protect those 120+ unique sponge species at The Heads, many of which would take hundreds of years to re-colonise, and which exist nowhere else on earth. If he can't do that, what use is he as an Environment Minister?”


“Mr. Brumby has just announced that Victoria cannot cope with current growth rates, so what better time than now to re-evaluate the need for a project whose projected economic benefits are entirely reliant on quadrupling trade through Melbourne in the next 25 years. Melbourne cannot cope with its current congestion level, so how would we cope with the projected quadrupling of trucks trundling through portside suburbs which are already suffering more than 8,000 truck trips per day outside their homes? Today’s announcement from the PoMC gives Mr. Brumby a wonderful opportunity to re-think the future.

“We are allowing the Port Corporation to risk the health of the Bay and our community, based entirely on their fervent hope that more big ships will come here at some point in the future. The Port’s growth projections were never well justified and are even less so now. We might be digging a big freeway through the Bay that will never be used” says Ms. Warfe.



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