(CNN) - The Australian federal government has approved a plan to dump three million cubic meters of dredge spoil, or sand-like material, in the Great Barrier Reef Park.
It will come from the proposed expansion of a coal port at Abbot Point.
The plan has sparked opposition by environmental groups, including Greenpeace.
Critics say the move could hurt the ecosystem.
But the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority said in a statement that the proposal was in line with directives to limit development of ports on the coast to existing facilities.
The park is more than 133,000 square miles in size.
It's home to thousands of species of coral, fish, mollusks, jellyfish, sharks and whales.
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