Published as an edited for lenght letter to the editor in The Daily Examiner on 29 March 2012:
So Chris Blanchard of Grafton is in favour of creating a large industrial port in the Clarence River estuary [The Daily Examiner,20 March 2012,p1].
A proposition I’m sure that many Lower Clarence residents and ratepayers would view with something akin to horror, given that the local economy is heavy dependent on an environmentally sustainable river system.
While blithely ignoring the fact that at least thirty-four Australian ports already have provided expansion plans to accommodate increased demand for port access by maritime traffic [Australian Maritime Safety Authority, media release, November 2011] and the Port of Yamba is likely to be surplus to requirements, he apparently sees no problem with:
(1) destroying a spiritual and cultural site important to the Yaegl community in order to widen and deepen ocean access to the Clarence River;
(2) exposing the Clarence River marine environment to potential short and long term negative effects from deep channel dredging;
(3) increasing the oil spill frequency rate in local waters from its present enviable low category for spills greater than 1 tonne and greater than 100 tonnes by trading ships in port and at sea [Det Norske Veritas, Report for Australian Maritime Safety Authority, “Assessment of Risk of Marine Oil Pollution”, 14 December 2011];
(4) increasing the region’s environmental risk status for continental shelf waters from the current moderate category [ibid];
(5) increasing the risks of bulk transport vessel-recreational yacht collision in the main estuary channel and sea approach to the estuary, because yachts make poor radar targets dues to their construction and size [Australian Maritime Safety Authority, 2012];
(6) increasing the risk of maritime pests establishing themselves within the estuary, due to an increase in both legal and illegal discharges in local waters of food waste or other organic material, cargo residues and water used for washing decks [ibid];
(4) decreasing the local commercial fishing fleet’s ability to safely fish in waters within the continental shelf zone at dawn, dusk and at night, due to increased bulk transport vessel traffic. In the past there have been incidents where large transport vessels sailing along the NSW North Coast have sunk or severely damaged fishing boats, including at least one involving loss of life; and
(8) generally increasing the risk in local waters of maritime incidents involving bulk transport ships stopped at sea due to machinery related failures, given these incidents have been rising nationally since 2009 [ibid]. Such failures would have the potential to block the Port of Yamba for days/weeks on end.
This is not an exhaustive list of the problems which may be associated with an industrial port.
Mr. Blanchard is being short-sighted to say the least.
JUDITH M. MELVILLE