|It brings a tear to my eye to think about the most beautiful coastline in the world being hit by this monstrosity. DB, are you involved in the clean-up activities at all?
Pacific Adventurer oil spill a disaster says Anna BlighArticle from: Font size: Decrease Increase Email article: Email Print article: Print Submit comment: Submit comment Robyn Ironside, Anna Caldwell and Brian Williams
March 13, 2009 03:20pm
LATEST: THE cargo ship at the centre of one of southeast Queensland's biggest environmental disasters has now leaked oil in the Brisbane River.
Australian Greens leader Bob Brown, who flew over the ship berthed at Hamilton at 1pm today, said there was a 500m-long oil slick down the Brisbane River from the vessel, the Pacific Adventurer.
Pictures: Oil slick misery on the coast
He said the oil had escaped a boom around the stern of the ship.
"There is a very serious oil spill now in the heart of Brisbane," Senator Brown said.
"How did that happen? There's a failure down the line here which started in the Port of Newcastle and has now ended in the Port of Brisbane."
The vessel's owner, Swire Shipping, said in a statement the oil leak occurred when the ship, which had been listing, was brought upright after docking at Hamilton on Friday morning.
"As full soundings of the vessel's tanks were being taken at the port to determine how much oil had leaked from the vessel, a small quantity of fuel oil escaped from the Pacific Adventurer," the company said.
"The small oil leak was immediately contained between the ship and the wharf."
Swire Shipping said a recovery vessel had sucked the oil from the water's surface and booms around the ship had contained the leak.
Extra booms were set around the vessel as a precaution.
The company and insurers were now in talks with the authorities over the cost of the clean-up.
Around 100,000 litres of oil from the cyclone-stricken Pacific Adventurer have washed up on the shores of Moreton and Bribie island and parts of the Sunshine Coast.
The areas have been declared disaster zones and state and federal authorities are responding, while the maritime watchdog is investigating the spill.
Charges may be laid over what Premier Anna Bligh says could be "the worst environmental disaster Queensland has ever seen".
"We know that the ship was capable of carrying 100 tonnes so it could be anywhere between 30 and 100, but it is certainly significantly more than the 30."
A 20-strong national response team, manned by experts, had been activated to help deal with the massive oil spill from a cargo ship caught in cyclonic seas on Wednesday, she said.
Beaches are blanketed with oil from the Hong Kong flagged ship Pacific Adventurer as a massive clean-up is under way.
Authorities said conditions on Wednesday were too rough to use booms to try to contain the massive spill, which is likely to result in hefty fines for the ships owner Swire Shipping.
Overnight, high tides have broken up some of the oil along Bribie Island but pollution response teams including wildlife rescue officers, have been out since first light trying to deal with the mess.
Public access to the oil-affected beaches will be limited while the clean-up occurs.
The restricted zone covers Moreton Island, and the southern tip of Bribie Island, to Point Arkwright, south of Coolum Beach on the Sunshine Coast.
The reason why the ship was out in cyclonic seas would be the subject of a full investigation, Ms Bligh said.
"If there is any grounds for prosecution of this ship and its owners we will not hesitate to take that action.
"We will also be pursuing them for compensation as this is going to be a very big clean-up cost and I want those ship owners to be paying for it."
The owners of the ship could face huge fines, but questions are being asked about why the freighter was at sea in the middle of a cyclone, and the competency of the crew in securing its cargo of fertiliser.
The clean up is a delicate operation as beaches had already been eroded from the high tides after ex-tropical cyclone Hamish battered the coast over the past week.
Moreton Bay councillor Allan Sutherland, who has inspected the northern end of Bribie Island, told ABC Radio the oil had dispersed overnight thanks to high tides.
"A lot of the sand that has been pulled from the dunes with the high tides is helping disperse the oil so mother nature is on our side at the moment," he said.
The cargo ship also lost about 620 tonnes of ammonium nitrate overboard.
The full extent of wildlife affected by the spill was yet to be realised, Environmental Protection Agency spokesman Clive Cook told ABC Radio.
"The flow-on effects of oil spills can be substantive," he said.
"The longer-term impacts are yet to be realised."
So far seven pelicans, one turtle and a few other birds had been found covered with