GLADSTONE Ports Corporation outgoing chief Leo Zussino has questioned whether the Labor Party knows its geography of the Great Barrier Reef after the Senate agreed to stop the dumping of dredge spoil along the Queensland coast.
He says stopping the disposal of dredge soil within ports such as Gladstone would "spell the death knell for the future of sustainable port development".
Meanwhile, Gladstone looks set to be caught in the crossfire as green groups step up efforts to stop the Rudd government from relaxing environmental restrictions.
The Senate last week passed a motion to prohibit any dumping of dredge spoil in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.
Australian Marine Conservation Society's Felicity Wishart welcomed the motion, saying it was the first time the Labor Party had supported a motion to end the dumping.
But Mr Zussino said dredge material had been deposited at the East Banks site, within the heritage area, for more than 20 years.
That includes spoil from the current Western Basin Dredging and Disposal Project.
"The East Banks site, like all project activities and operations, is located outside the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park," Mr Zussino said.
"There are rightly very few development restrictions on these areas of the world heritage area that sit outside the marine park - nor was there ever intended to be."
It is believed the cost of disposing of dredge spoil on land would be three times the cost of ocean disposal, as well as the dilemma of where to put the spoil.
Environmental groups including WWF, the Wilderness Society and the Australian Conservation Foundation this week delivered a letter to the Prime Minister highlighting their concerns about plans to cut red tape in contentious developments in sensitive areas.
ACF chief Don Henry said if the Queensland Government was given final powers and agreed to the proposed expansion of coal ports from Gladstone to Cape York, then Australia could "kiss goodbye" the world heritage status of the Great Barrier Reef.