It’s an­chors aweigh

Pre­lim­i­nary con­struc­tion for port project in progress

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - CHRIS LEES christo­

THE im­pact of the Townsville chan­nel- widen­ing project is start­ing to be re­alised, with pre­lim­i­nary work al­ready un­der way.

Port of Townsville chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Ra­nee Crosby said sev­eral small work pack­ages to pre­pare the 10ha site within the ex­ist­ing port area for the project had al­ready started.

“These have been awarded to lo­cal com­pa­nies,” she said.

Pre­lim­i­nary con­struc­tion works to build site of­fices, fenc­ing, a new en­trance way, and for the in­stal­la­tion of wa­ter and sewer ser­vices have started.

En­vi­ron­men­tal jobs will also come from the project, with at least four ten­ders open for mon­i­tor­ing fauna and flora as part of the project.

Coral, sea­grass, tur­tles, dugongs and dol­phins will be mon­i­tored un­der a sep­a­rate pro­gram the port is con­tract­ing out.

“To en­sure the mon­i­tor­ing un­der­taken is ro­bust, all our mon­i­tor­ing needs to be im­ple­mented by par­ties who are com­pe­tent and ap­pro­pri­ately ex­pe­ri­enced and qual­i­fied,” Ms Crosby said.

As part of the project, the port will es­tab­lish an In­de­pen­dent Tech­ni­cal Ad­vi­sory Com­mit­tee to as­sist with set­ting thresh­olds to safe­guard en­vi­ron­men­tal per­for­mance.

Ms Crosby said the com­mit­tee would in­clude rel­e­vant sci­en­tific spe­cial­ists and have the abil­ity to stop works if any im­pacts were ob­served through mon­i­tor­ing pro­grams.

CQUniver­sity en­vi­ron­men­tal sci­ence head of course and lec­turer Dr Nathan English said mon­i­tor­ing be­fore, dur­ing and af­ter the project would be a re­quire­ment of port’s en­vi­ron­men­tal as­sess­ment.

“You’re look­ing for base­line data so you can mea­sure the im­pact of any changes ei­ther dur­ing the ac­tiv­ity or af­ter the ac­tiv­ity,” he said.

“It’s in­cred­i­bly im­por­tant be­cause with­out that mon­i­tor­ing we don’t know if the dredg­ing will or may not have an im­pact.”

Last month the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment com­mit­ted $ 75 mil­lion to the chan­nel up­grade af­ter a sus­tained cam­paign by the Townsville Bul­letin.

The port has pre­vi­ously said the Chan­nel Ca­pac­ity Up­grade will cre­ate 120 full- time equiv­a­lent jobs in Townsville dur­ing con­struc­tion and sup­port 245 jobs in Queens­land.

The width of the ship­ping chan­nels will be in­creased from 92m to be­tween 120m ( at sea end) and 180m ( at port end).

The chan­nels will be widened by cap­i­tal dredg­ing.

None of the dredg­ing ma­te­rial is al­lowed to be dumped at sea. The port says it will be used to build up a recla­ma­tion area, which will be used for fu­ture port ex­pan­sion.

Ms Crosby said by widen­ing the chan­nel to give larger ships ac­cess, Townsville Port would re­main North­ern Aus­tralia’s trans­port link to the world, which would fa­cil­i­tate the growth of the re­gional econ­omy.

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