UPDATE: Coal ship aground on Great Barrier Reef…Bird Rookery and turtle hatchery oiled

Aground on the Great Barrier Reef

The Shen Neng has been refloated off the reef, and is being towed to safe anchorage. It appears that a major giant spill has been averted but oil is on the beach in nearby NW Island, which is a spawning ground for turtles and other marine species. Baby turtles are hatching this week. Oil on this island is considered a disaster, as it is the most significant bird hatchery on the reef.

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Oil pumping continues to offload the Shen Neng 1 with the hope of refloating the boat later in the week. If weather cooperates, the major spill may be averted.


Pumping of fuel oil from the Shen Neng 1 continued overnight, following the
successful commencement of the delicate oil transfer operation on Friday

Under the guidance of salvage experts, the oil transfer began at 10:56am
Friday morning and has continued to plan, Maritime Safety Queensland
General Manager Patrick Quirk said today.

“With weather conditions on our side, pumping has progressed through the
night however we expect variations in pumping rates as we continue,” Mr
Quirk said.

“If current conditions hold, we anticipate finishing the operation by Monday,
however safety, not speed, is our focus.”

UK Guardian update: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/apr/11/arrests-ship-great-barrier-reef

Australian authorities arrest members of another ship that was found cutting through the Great Barrier Reef, just days after the grounding of the ship documented below. It appears that the government has decided to become hard core about stopping the practice.

NY Times update: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/08/world/asia/08reef.html

Short story, one fuel tank puntured but it appears that there has been little leakage, yet. Work proceeds to get the fuel off the ship. Refloating the ship will be unlikely. Envionmental anger is mounting in Australia for major changes to protection of the Reef from shipping.

From BBC correspondent Nick Bryant’s blog, discusses the lack of shipping control along the Great Barrier Reef, something that we have implemented here for decades. Additionally, no local pilots are used there, and there is a huge economic incentive to ‘cut the line’ and run closer to the reef to save money. See Nick’s blog here…http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/nickbryant/2010/04/monitoring_the_sea_lanes_on_th.html

As if we don’t need another reminder of how fragile the whole shipping situation is, this COSCO ship (we get lots of them here) has run aground at full speed on the Great Barrier Reef. You don’t need me to tell you what kind of disaster this could be if they can”t get this oil and coal off this thing. The latest is that officials are saying they may be able to get this ship off the Reef without huge spill, though the current spill is 3km long  x 100m  wide already.


3 Responses

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