Just 80 metres from disaster
A significant dredging project to give super-sized coal ships more room.
Wednesday 05 July 2017
The Gladstone Ports Corporation has lodged paperwork with the Federal Government for approval of a significant dredging project at Port Clinton in Gladstone Harbour.
According to GPC, a risky situation has evolved at the Port where new supersized Capesize vessels (can be 400 metres long and carry 400,000 tonnes ) filling at the Wiggins Island Coal Export Terminal, can only leave on high tide and have to pass within 80 metres of moored vessels.
“The passing of a vessel in such close proximity to a moored vessel results in vessel interaction whereby forces are imposed on the two vessels due to the displacement of water,” GPC said.
“These forces may be sufficient to break mooring lines and in the extreme, have the vessel fully break away from the birth.
“A breakaway may be sufficient to result in vessel collisions either between the interacting vessels or with other vessels moored in the adjoining berths.
“A significant failure of this nature could result in a substantial economic impost through the recovery of the vessels and blockage of the channel and may result in a major environmental incident.”
Under the proposal, GPC wants to widen the Port Clinton Channel by 100 metres and increase the depth of the new section to around 16 metres. It also intends to excavate a nearby channel to 13 metres to allow more room for smaller boats to navigate the canal.
Around 800,000 cubic metres of soil will need to be excavated, which they propose to dump at the Western Basin Reclamation Area 10 kilometres away.
If approved, the project would commence in May 2018 and be finished in September.
The proposed work will happen within the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area (GBRWHA), but GPC expects any impacts will be minor and temporary.
“Significant impacts on biodiversity are not expected as dredging will be carried out directly adjacent to the existing channel, which represents a previously disturbed environment rather than a green field site,” they said.
“The disturbance area is small and contains benthic habitats that are well represented within the port of Gladstone.
“These areas are not known or likely to support habitats of critical importance to threatened or otherwise conservation dependent species or communities.
“The footprint is not known to contain high densities of turtles.”