The Big Boss dredging machine in the Gladstone Harbour is dredging for the Western Basin Dredging and Disposal Project.
The Big Boss dredging machine in the Gladstone Harbour is dredging for the Western Basin Dredging and Disposal Project. Submitted

Dredging project update

GLADSTONE Harbour’s dredging project, the largest in Australia’s history, began on May 20, an audience heard yesterday.

Speaking at the Gladstone Resource Industry Update, Peter O’Sullivan, project manager of environment and approvals for the Western Basin Dredging Project, said the Big Boss dredger had been removing 3500 cubic metres a day since the project began.

Big Boss will be the slowest of several dredgers on the project.

Mr O’Sullivan described the sheer enormity of the project.

“All up, just for the LNG industry, it is about 25 million cubic metres of dredging,” he said.

Mr O’Sullivan said about five million cubic metres of material would be dumped offshore. A further 20 million cubic metres would be dumped onshore.

“Our other major goal, apart from meeting our deadlines, is to set new levels in terms of environmental standards for a dredging project of this size,” he said.

Mr O’Sullivan explained a bunt wall was being constructed at Fishermans Landing to contain dredging material dumped onshore and create a land reclamation area.

“It’s an area about 2km long and 2km wide. The back wall is kept away from the shore line,” Mr O’Sullivan said.

“There are some mangroves in that top corner and the idea is that by bringing that back wall off about 60 or 70m, we will actually allow that area to continue to survive.”

Mr O’Sullivan said the wall was 70-80% complete and Abigroup, the contractor constructing the bunt wall, was on track to close it off by July 1. Dredgers will begin dumping material in August.

Mr O’Sullivan said efforts were being made to minimise damage to seagrass pastures in the harbour and dredged material would be dumped in strategic areas to ensure the smallest footprint possible.

“The other thing we’ve done is probably the most comprehensive water monitoring process that’s ever been put in place in Australia,” he said.

“We’ve got over 30 sites, both in the harbour and offshore. We’ve been monitoring those for two years.”

Mr O’Sullivan said data had been collected in the one to two years leading up to dredging so that an accurate comparison could be made once the project began.



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