Government authorities and the Gladstone Ports Corporation steadfastly maintain that the major 46 million cubic metre dredging program is not adversely affecting water quality and has nothing to do with a continuing problem with diseased marine life including seafood.
They say the floods almost two years ago were responsible. They say this is still what is killing fish, turtles, oysters, dugong and causing severe rashes on other species such as sharks and stingrays, and "rust spots" eating thru the shells of mudcrabs.
Aquatic disease specialist Dr Matt Landos, after thorough investigations and on the spot tests, says the most likely cause is the resuspension of dredge plumes which move up to 35 km from the main Western Basin dredging site and contain a mix of toxins including heavy metals. He has called for the use of silt curtains to help minimise any damage.
Yesterday I visited the Gladstone Marina and took some photos of what used to be a clear blue harbour. Judge for yourselves - could a flood two years ago (smaller than those in Brisbane, Hervey Bay, Bundaberg and Rockhampton) have caused this muddy water, or is it the dredging. For locals, that's a no-brainer.
It also explains why they stopped all dredging for "urgent maintenance" two weeks before the UNESCO delegates visited in March, but the visiting scientists weren't fooled. They called for a thorough investigation into the harbour, which so far remains ignored.
Meanwhile a second shipping channel was recently granted significant project status by the Queensland Government which normally means a project will be fast-tracked. On-going problems with the current project should first be addressed.