Fitzroy coal terminal team rejects KAFDA king tide concerns

Keppel and Fitzroy Delta Alliance coordinator Ginny Gerlach on a catamaran during the trip around the region looking at areas where proposed coal and gas ports are planned.
Keppel and Fitzroy Delta Alliance coordinator Ginny Gerlach on a catamaran during the trip around the region looking at areas where proposed coal and gas ports are planned. Daniel Burdon

LAST weekend's king tides inundated the proposed coal export terminals in the Fitzroy Delta.

The Fitzroy and Keppel Bay Alliance (KAFDA) flew over the area at the height of last Saturday's king tide and took a series of aerial photographs which showed the proposed export terminal sites under water.

Port Alma during the King Tide event in January 2013. Photo Tom Hearn.
Port Alma during the King Tide event in January 2013. Photo Tom Hearn.

KAFDA spokeswoman Ginny Gerlach said the sight of the delta under water was stunning and revealing, and the small existing general cargo facility at Port Alma looked like a tiny island poking out of a massive lake.

"It's laughable that anyone could seriously think they could build new coal export terminals here without the need for massive reclamation works just to get equipment and workers to the sites," Ms Gerlach said.

"The proponents claim they can build these new facilities with only minor disruption to the delta habitat.

"There is no way in the world this is possible, having witnessed the impact of these king tides first-hand.

"Putting aside these king tides and the predicted sea level rise over the next few decades … how much destruction will occur to coal terminals built on mangroves and saltpans in the Fitzroy delta when a cyclone pays us a visit sometime in the future."

Ms Gerlach said the proposal was putting investors' money at risk as much as it was risking the natural environment of the delta, and she said any investors should be made aware of how real those risks were.

"A river delta like the mighty Fitzroy is simply the wrong place to try to build new export facilities," she said.

Port Alma during the King Tide event in January 2013. Photo Tom Hearn.
Port Alma during the King Tide event in January 2013. Photo Tom Hearn.

KAFDA has continued its call for the state and federal governments to recognise the folly of pursuing coal export facilities anywhere in the Fitzroy delta and not approve any new facilities in this sensitive and important area.

Peter MacTaggart, project manager from the Fitzroy Terminal Project, said the project team was aware and had been for a long time, of the coastal influences, including king tides, around the proposed coal export terminal.

He said the proposed terminal and infrastructure had been engineered and designed around those coastal characteristics, including future coastal characteristics due to the likely effect of climate change.

Data captured during peak flood and high tide in 2010/2011 was used in the engineering and design of the project.

"The stockyard, conveyors and wharf were designed to withstand a 1-in-1000 year flood event," Mr MacTaggart said.

"The only infrastructure located within proximity of the tidal area is the out-loading conveyor and wharf and both would be suspended several metres above the king tide level.

"The lowest level in the stockyard is 15m AHD, which is well above recorded tide and flood levels."

Mr MacTaggart said king tides would not disrupt the proposed terminal operations.

"During a king tide event and if approved, it will be business as usual for the terminal," he said.

Topics:  coal environment fitzroy kafda king tide terminal

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