One of the last hurdles for dredging near the Great Barrier Reef is being approached today, with the main authority in charge of the marine park set to make its decision on the potentially destructive plan.

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority is expected to give word this Friday on whether it will allow a plan to expand coal export points on the Queensland coast.

The Queensland Government wants the expansions to go ahead, as they will allow the state to export increased amounts of resources. 

The plan includes the dumping of a reported 3 million cubic tonnes of dredge spoil at sea. Many are concerned that the large dumps will drift into seagrass beds and the Barrier Reef, where they can have numerous negative effects by preventing light, spoiling nutrients for plants and animals, and interrupts normal migratory cycles.

Media outlets claim to have obtained a discussion paper prepared for the then Environment Minister’s office, which indicated the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority was not in favour of the dredging and subsequent dumping.

Greg Hunt, the current Federal Environment Minister has approved the expansion, though he had no say on where the dumping would occur. This is the decision that the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority appears to be wrestling with.

While the Authority is most likely opposed to the dumping at sea, according to the document leaked to the ABC, the paper includes several lower-risk alternatives such as extending the jetty or dumping the spoils on land.

The report is allegedly not intended to form any part of legislation or even be an official representation of GBRMPA’s stance.

Official word is expected very soon.