Gladstone bund wall leak faces national scrutiny in review

THE Federal Environment Minister has begun a review into a bund wall that leaked dredge spoil into Gladstone Harbour as part of a 2011 and 2012 dredging program.

The minister's office confirmed the review was under way, and it would be conducted within the department.

However, it is believed the results of the review will be made public.

It is not known how long the review will take, or whether any enforceable actions will be taken as a result of the review.

Minister Greg Hunt ordered the review shortly after claims made by former employees that the quality of the bund wall suffered as a result of cost-cutting.

The Gladstone Ports Corporation was reportedly handed a report by engineering consultants BMT WBM back in November 2011 indicating a leak at the bund wall was the most likely explanation for poor water quality during the dredging program.

The leakage is believed to have been caused by a thinner-than-needed geotextile lining, with the leaking used as part of a case study by senior engineers Bill Service, a dredging supervisor with QGC; and Warren Hornsey, an engineer who works with geosynthetic materials.

The GPC maintains a leakage of dredge spoil into the harbour was not to blame for fish disease observed during 2011 and 2012.

A report from the fisheries department in August last year came to the same conclusion.

It found an increase of barramundi into the harbour in 2011 post-floods was the "primary stressor" causing the fish disease.

EARLIER: FEDERAL Environment Minister Greg Hunt has ordered an immediate inquiry into why the bund wall in Gladstone Harbour leaked in 2011 and 2012.

Brisbane Times reports the bund wall was supposed to stop 25 million tonnes of dredge spoil leaking into the Port of Gladstone and the lower reaches of the Great Barrier Reef during an expansion of the habour.

It said Gladstone Ports Corporation had consistently rejected any link between leaking dredge material and the condition of fish in the harbour, as well as increases in turtle and dugong strandings, instead pointing to excessive rainfall and turbidity.

Mr Hunt's spokesman said the leak would be reviewed "as a matter of priority".

"We will await the outcome of the review before considering what, if any, action needs to be taken," he said.

In a statement, a Gladstone Ports Corporation public relations spokeswoman said they would talk only to the Federal Environment department.

Read more at The Brisbane Times.

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