Supplementary EES is out!

The much awaited SEES has finally hit the decks, and the decks are awash with salty tales so spongy you could drive a dredge through them! 

The channel deepening project is suffering from a dose of hyper spin, but nothing can change the reality that the project would damage the Bay and cost Victorians lots.

Minister Pallas says the SEES has found most effects on the health of the Bay would be temporary, and Treasurer Brumby has opined that “to do nothing is to forgo billions of dollars in lost opportunities”.  Well let’s look at some of the data that underpins the SEES.

The PoMC's own Risk Assessment experts; URS Pty. Ltd. Reported to the Port’s Stakeholder Advisory Committee in November 2006 that there are moderate level’ risks to various irreplaceable Bay assets. URS defined Moderate risk as 'Medium term recovery. Substantial change to area or function'. Assets and ecosystems exposed to medium risk include:  

  • Fish species in North of Bay threatened by seabed removal, reduced visibility and noise
  • Aquaculture, recreational fishing, marine mammals, seagrass beds/shallow habitat, and various fish species face threats as a result of reduced light in South of Bay
  • Commercial fishing and Aquaculture and recreational diving face threats from reduced visibility, and seagrass beds from clogging
  • Amenity and Disruption to Bay users, Tourism, Deep habitats are threatened at The Entrance
  • Various fish species, marine assemblages such as sponge gardens and corals, and shallower seagrass beds are also under threat at The Entrance 

These are risks PoMC was prepared to reveal and which we presume would have been well polished prior to the SEES release!

In spite of extensive further studies, the bones of the project remain unchanged from when it first sailed into view in 2004.

·         PoMC still plans to use the same dredging contractor and technology which caused the extensive rockfall at the Heads during the trial dredging in 2005

  • 500,000 tonnes of rock would still be removed from the beautiful Canyon area at The Heads, where removal of only 27,000 tonnes caused such extensive damage during the trial.
  • A dumpsite 7 sq. kilometres in area would still be created on the sea-bed off Mornington.
  • Toxic and contaminated sediment dump (over 2 million tonnes) would still be removed from several kilometres of the Yarra bed if deepened another 2.5 metres; risking re-entry of toxins and contaminants into the water column and foodchain and then dumped in the Bay- although now purportedly contained within a clay bund, but still risking re-entry of toxins and contaminants into the water column and foodchain

Government stopped a toxic dump in Mildura but is prepared to consider one for the middle of our beautiful Bay! 

And still the PoMC has failed to put a price on irreplaceable Bay assets in its much trumpeted PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PWC) economic analysis of the contribution of the Port to the economy, but it fails to value the contribution of the Bay to society and the economy. The PWC consultant advised us that this would be too difficult and beyond the scope of the study.

And we still don’t have an analysis of what the full cost to taxpayers will be of undertaking all the necessary related projects including moving Melbourne markets, moving Footscray Rd., construction of the proposed rail bridge/tunnel adjacent to Docklands, as well as the community costs of the projected quadrupling of truck traffic by 2035 regardless of any improved rail connections.


Government’s 2002 ‘in principle’ support for the project included the need for a “sound financing strategy” and Treasurer Brumby announced yesterday that “to do nothing is to forgo billions of dollars in lost opportunities”, but consider this. Mr. Brumby claims industry would save $582 million by 2035 if the project proceeds, whilst the SEES claims industry would bear $450 million in extra costs by 2035 if the project did not proceed. PoMC estimates it will handle over 7 million containers by 2035. That’s an additional cost per container of around $65. That’s a miniscule 0.16% extra cost per container by 2035 if the project did not proceed.  On average, we understand container contents are valued at $40,000, so even if there were extra costs they are a tiny proportion of the contents value. Using Brumby's figures if the project did proceed industry might save around $80 per container by 2035 – but we might also have damaged our Bay. What hasn’t been discussed is who is going to pay for the project, and who would pay if the Bay was damaged!


If industry are levied the proposed $20 per container, increasing by $5 per year as previously mooted by PoMC, the $80 savings by 2035 is entirely illusory. So if industry don’t want to pay, who will? Victorians should not fall for the line that we will be the beneficiaries of these “savings”. There is we understand, no agreed methodology to track or measure how much savings are ever passed on to the end consumer. And if any costs were passed on it would be “two fifths of bugger all”. So where are these $billions of lost opportunities?


If the Bay sustains more damage than predicted will the PoMC pay to clean it up? Is the PoMC prepared to lodge an environmental bond?

It's time to sink these plans before the plans sink us!

Read more about the project on our website

or PoMC website

Use above information to make a submission to

Port Phillip Bay Channel Deepening Project S-EES

Planning Panels Victoria
8 Nicholson St



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