The Hon. Greg Hunt MP

Minister for the Environment

The Hon. Greg Hunt MP

Minister for the Environment

Findings of the Independent Review into the Port of Gladstone

Media release
9 May 2014

Today I am releasing the independent review into the leaking bund wall incidents at the Port of Gladstone.

It is a comprehensive document, with 37 findings and 19 recommendations and I thank the members of the independent review panel for their work.

The relevant findings will be used to inform the assessment of future developments with reclamation areas in coastal environments.

These findings include:

  • Aspects of the design and construction of the bund wall were not consistent with industry best practice. While the overall design of the bund wall and the choice of geotextile were considered appropriate, inadequate restraint of a geotextile liner, 'piping' of water and sediment through paleo channels under the wall and the erosion of mud outside the wall all contributed to changes in turbidity in the vicinity of the bund wall.
  • The location of water quality monitoring sites associated with the Western Basin Strategic Dredging and Disposal Project was inadequate to determine whether changes in turbidity were attributable to the performance of the bund wall.
  • The Department of the Environment's ability to respond to alleged breaches of conditions was limited by the lack of specificity in some of the previous Labor Government's conditions of approval, inadequate resourcing of the regulatory functions at the time of the incident and fragmented and complex cross-jurisdictional regulations.

    It is important to note that the findings relate to events in 2011 and 2012. I am advised these issues affecting the bund wall have been resolved and do not present an ongoing threat to the environment.

    I am also advised that the Department has already begun to address a number of the findings, including a significant increase in compliance monitoring staff numbers, a risk based model developed in collaboration with the CSIRO to better manage compliance resources and a review of all compliance and enforcement standard operating procedures to be completed by 30 June 2014.

    I am confident that these findings will help improve environmental practices and regulation going forward. I will respond formally to the Report by 1 July 2014. However, having spoken with members of the panel, my intention is to adopt as many of the recommendations as possible.

    Information about the review is available online at www.environment.gov.au/bundwallreview

Greg Hunt

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