GPC seeks approval to dredge Clinton Channel
GLADSTONE Ports Corporation will apply to the State and Federal Governments for approval to widen the Clinton Channel by about 100 metres.
If implemented, the project will cost between $65 million and $80 million and would require the dredging of about 800,000 cubic metres of soil, according to GPC.
The proposal is designed to address potential safety issues which have arisen as a result of increasingly large vessels using the channel, due to the development of the Wiggins Island coal export terminal.
Those vessels are currently required to pass within 80 metres of ships berthed at the RG Tanna wharf, causing "significant forces" on those ships and posing a risk that they could break their mooring lines.
"Widening the channel by approximately 100 metres will enable passing vessels to have greater separation distance," GPC chief executive Peter O'Sullivan said.
Mr O'Sullivan said GPC and the Regional Harbour Master had implemented temporary measures to reduce the risk of maritime safety incidents occurring, but a permanent solution was now required.
The Clinton Channel proposal is a successor to an abandoned idea floated in October 2015, which would have seen the nearby Clinton Bypass Channel deepened from 13 metres to 16 metres at a cost of about $100 million.
"(That would have) required almost three times the volume of dredging," Mr O'Sullivan said.
"By widening the existing channel we... can also place the material into the existing approved Western Basin area."
Mr O'Sullivan moved to quash any comparisons between the proposal and the 2011 Western Basin Dredging and Disposal Project, which saw about 18.5 million cubic tonnes of soil removed from the area, and resulted in a three-week fishing ban in the Gladstone Harbour and a potential class action lawsuit.
"Unlike the Western Basin Dredging and Disposal Project, it is anticipated that the works will be executed by a single, small dredger, compared with up to six large dredgers working simultaneously," he said.
"Issue around discharge from the proposed Western Basin Reclamation have been resolved during the previous project."
If the project receives all the relevant environmental approvals, it is expected to be up and running in the second half of 2018.