Australia has approved a plan to dump large amounts of sludge in the Great Barrier Reef. The mud will come from the expansion of a coal port on the coast near the reef. The go-ahead to the dumping was given by Australia's Environment Minister. Environmentalists are up in arms about the possible damage to the world's largest and most famous coral reef. They say it is shocking that profits are being put ahead of such an important marine environment. About 3 million cubic meters of mud will be poured into the reef's waters. Authorities say it will not be dumped on top of any coral.
The reef is the world's largest coral reef system. It stretches for 2,600km, covering around 344,400 square kilometres. It gets special protection from Australia's government to limit the impact of fishing and tourism. Climate change is damaging it by bleaching and killing the coral. The reef creates $3 billion a year in tourism revenue. Greenpeace said the dumping, "is one more body blow…which further threatens marine life, its World Heritage status and Australia's tourism and fishing". The WWF said it was, "a sad day for the reef and anyone who cares about its future".