Trial Dredge & Dolphin Death Linked?

Trial which actually caused extensive environmental damage, may be linked to the Port Phillip dolphin death, and which failed to answer many important questions. 
EPA’s recently release audit report into the trial dredge program has been used by the Port of Melbourne Corporation and government to trumpet the supposed success of the trial – a trial which actually caused extensive environmental damage, may be linked to the Port Phillip dolphin death, and which failed to answer many important questions. 
The report shows that Boskalis, the PoMC’s dredging contractors are not capable of protecting our underwater environment. The report identifies the cause of the rockfall – because the dredge drag head should have been lifted 50 metres before the edge of the canyon. However, over one year ago, the PoMC assured the Independent Panel assessing the project that they would avoid rockfalls by not dredging within 40-50 metres of the canyon edge. So, PoMC knew that rockfalls were highly likely if they did approach the edge of the canyon, and yet their contractor still proceeded to dredge to the edge of the canyon. “PoMC knew what they should do, but Boskalis apparently didn’t care about doing the right thing” says Mr. John Willis spokesperson for the Blue Wedges Coalition. 
“And the EPA has let us down by not ensuring that the PoMC’s Environmental Management Plan contained adequate monitoring activities to identify these risks before they turned into disasters. EPA can’t intervene to stop rockfall if they don’t know about it until after the dredging is complete. It’s just not acceptable to have the PoMC, proponent for the project developing and implementing their own EMP. The EPA should have been given the responsibility of developing an EMP, rather than just being around after the event trying to explain the mess” says Mr. Willis. 
Some questions which remain unanswered, in spite of the $32 million trial dredge are:  
  • Why didn’t the EPA audit assess the dolphin death in the Bay, the autopsy results of which were “inconclusive”? The dolphin died whilst the trial dredge was underway.
  • Why was the EPA’s “independent audit” undertaken by GHD - a firm which was also a PoMC consultant for the Channel Deepening EES?
  • Why was the PoMC allowed to develop an EMP which had such inadequate safeguards?
  • Why didn’t the EPA audit report on deaths/injuries to species reliant on the Bay?
  • How does the PoMC propose to deal with the millions of tonnes of contaminated sediment, laden with heavy metals, pesticides and insecticides from the bed of the Yarra which would be disturbed if the project proceeds?“
The EPA lost all credibility in August this year when it was found that a PoMC owned site on the lower Maribyrnong River is leaching huge amounts of toxins and heavy metals into our rivers and bay. These reports found that arsenic, copper, zinc, lead and ammonia were constantly leaching into the river in volumes up to 154,000 times the safe environmental limit, and yet the EPA had done nothing!What is worse, the EPA did not inform the general public about the health risk in an area where up to 200 people a week fish on a recreational basis and the majority of those consume their catch” said Mr. Willis.
Victoria is being led down a very dangerous and totally unnecessary path by the State Government, the PoMC and the EPA. The propaganda machine is working overtime to sell the channel deepening project to the people, but the people are not buying it. Benefits to Victorians would be ‘immeasurably minor’ - the words of the PoMC’s own economic peer reviewer during the Panel Hearings. 
The Trial Dredge has failed, the PoMC has failed, the EPA has failed and it’s now time to look for suitable alternatives to this very shortsighted project.” said Mr. Willis.

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