Australian state government backs plan to avoid dumping mud in Great Barrier Reef Marine Park

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The government of Australia's Queensland state has approved a plan that will prevent 3 million cubic meters (106 million cubic feet) of seabed mud from being dumped in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

The state-owned North Queensland Bulk Ports Corp. already has federal approval to dump dredged sediment in the marine park in order to expand the Abbot Point coal port near the town of Bowen, a decision that environmentalists say will endanger one of the world's most fragile ecosystems.

Queensland Premier Campbell Newman announced Monday that the state Cabinet had approved a new disposal plan that would have the material reused on land.

The state government has asked federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt, who approved the Abbot Point expansion in 2013, to fast-track approval for the plan.