Over the past 70 years millions of tonnes of contaminated mud have been dredged from the Port of Melbourne and dumped in Port Phillip Bay. Meanwhile, the sand flathead population has declined 80% since the 1960s and we don’t know why.
The Port of Melbourne Corporation is currently seeking Commonwealth and state government approvals to dredge and dump a further 2.3 million cubic metres over the next 10 years. They say the work will be completed “in accordance with an approved Environmental Management Plan.”
The question is: will the EMP be detailed enough to really protect the environment? The Channel Deepening EMP didn’t require testing for toxins in sediments outside of the dredge disposal area. In other words, there were no checks to ensure that dumped contaminants didn’t disperse beyond the disposal area.
Dispersal of fine silts by wave action is especially likely when the mud is dumped through the bottom of a dredge spoil disposal barge.
Get along to one of the upcoming Port of Melbourne Corporation community information sessions on maintenance dredging. Ask them how many cubic metres of silt will be dumped from the bottom of barges; and at what point as they sink through the water column will they not be dispersed by wind driven wave action? What studies show that dumping dredge spoil has not harmed the Bay ecology?