Photos: Abandoned prawn farm in rehab

A PRAWN farm at South Trees abandoned for almost two decades will start to change shape in April when works start to return the site to its natural state.

The 2ha area is in a tidal zone in the Boyne River Basin and in the 1990s was leased by Vijay Ram as a prawn, mud crab and barramundi farm.

Its closure was shrouded in mystery but, according to State Government documents, the owner simply walked away from the aquaculture operation in 1999.

The soil is naturally rich in acid sulfates --- a common material in coastal waterways --- but when dug up and mixed with oxygen creates sulphuric acid, a highly corrosive material.

Brisbane company Moreton Environmental has been awarded the job of cleaning the contaminated soil and restoring the site to its natural state.

The rehabilitation is expected to take three months but the site will be monitored for the next 12 months.

In the 1990s, when the prawn farm was proposed, it was met with strong opposition from the Concerned Citizens for Industrial Control, an environmental lobby group active in Gladstone at the time, because of the risk to the surrounding environment; each time it rains the ponds fill with water which becomes acidic and can leach into the surrounding environment.

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