Stranded Coal Carrier Threatens Great Barrier Reef
April 5, 2010
According to the Associated Foreign Press, Australian authorities are trying to prevent a badly damaged Chinese coal carrier stranded on the Great Barrier Reef from spilling tons of oil into the surrounding waters. The Shen Neng 1 ran aground when it hit a shoal off the eastern state of Queensland at full speed, apparently breaching a fuel tank and causing a two-mile slick. Authorities remain concerned that the ship, which is being hit by a two to three-meter swell and grinding against the reef, may break up but professional salvage experts on board believe that risk has diminished. The Chinese-registered carrier s loaded with 65,000 tons of coal and about 975 tons of heavy fuel oil. The vessel hit Douglas Shoal at the southern end of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, 15 nautical miles outside the nearest shipping channel, at full speed. Authorities said the damage was serious, confirming that the rudder was seriously damaged, the ship''s double bottom tanks, which provide buoyancy had been breached and one of the fuel tanks had also likely been breached. So far, however, the oil spill has been limited to about three or four tons. After dispersant was used on the slick, workers will now place a boom around the oil to prevent it from spreading further.