Imagine the perfect underwater location, full of reefs, little fish, sharks, with thousands of different colors,… Most of you are imagining something like the Great Barrier of Reef for sure! And at this time, you know many of the threats it has to face… Here comes another one that you might not expect: URANIUM. Yes! Uranium! There has been a ban in Queensland on uranium mining for 28 years, but last October Queensland Premier, Campbell Newman ended the ban.
The problem is that the Great Barrier is located off the coast of Queensland, so every ship exporting uranium must go travel across the gorgeous sets of coral reefs. They say that it would not only create hundreds of jobs, but it would bring a lot of money to the citizens… they are talking of about $2 billion! The potential of this industry could be $10 billion, according to the uranium businessmen. It looks like a huge amount of money… but the Great Barrier makes $5 billion every year in tourism, employing about 54,000 people, and many argue argue that the Great Barrier Reef is priceless!
The Mining Minister received 40 recommendations by a uranium mining implementation committee investigation. They tried to look for a solution to preserve the Great Barrier while developing the uranium industry. And that was transporting the uranium oxide by truck South to Adelaide or Northwest to Darwin, with existing ports. But the Minister, Mr. Cripps, wants to build a new port in Townsville (the most important touristic city for divers), because it is “necessary!” So the uranium would be exported through the reef. What is funnier, is that the current political party won the elections with a non-mining position. Politicians…Go Figure!?!?!?
This is not only an Australian problem, is a global one! Even UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, Cultural Organization) had threatened the Australian authorities, which agree with the uranium project, with taking off the World Heritage status, because of an increase in coastal development and shipment (with the current gas and coal industries expansion, it is estimated that 7000 ships a year will cross the Great Barrier). The UNESCO committee will have a meeting with the Federal Government in June, so we’ll have to wait to what will happen until then.
Politicians are promising strict laws to protect the reef from the uranium, but do you think they will work? It worth it to put at risk a unique place like the Great Barrier, just for a few years of benefits?