Australia Re-Floats Barrier Reef Oil Spill Ship
April 12, 2010
According to the Associated Foreign Press, Australian authorities have re-floated a huge Chinese ship that had been stranded on the Great Barrier Reef for over a week after running aground, averting a potential environmental crisis. Emergency workers successfully moved the 230-meter Shen Neng 1 coal carrier without adding to the two-ton oil spill that spread a three-kilometer slick after the ship crashed on April 3. The general manager of Marine Safety Queensland, Patrick Quirk, confirmed that no more oil had been lost and said the ship was being towed to an area east of Great Keppel Island, Australian news agency AAP reported. Emergency workers had pumped most of the 970 tons of heavy fuel oil from the vessel before they were forced to rush the after-dark re-floating due to approaching stormy weather and high seas. Australia''s transport minister has accused the ship''s crew of taking an illegal route at the heritage-listed reef. The ship strayed about 15 nautical miles from the recognized shipping lane before plowing into Douglas Shoal at full speed, sustaining heavy damage. Australian officials immediately promised to investigate allegations that ships were taking shortcuts through the giant reef, which sprawls along 1,800 miles of coast and is a major tourist attraction. The government of the northeastern state of Queensland announced dramatically increased penalties for oil spills on the Great Barrier Reef, including fines of up to 10 million dollars.