Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Chinese Coal Ship Damages 1km of Great Barrier Reef

What a monumental disaster:

The Australian authorities have said a Chinese bulk carrier which ran aground off Queensland has caused widespread damage to the famed Great Barrier Reef.

The cleanup is likely to be the biggest operation ever undertaken there.

The Shen Neng 1 was refloated on Monday night, in a salvage operation brought forward because of the threat of bad weather and heavy seas.

The Australian government has indicated that a prosecution will follow because the ship ran aground in a no-go zone.

Here's a map made by someone on Google Earth of the route the ship was supposed to be taking, and the route it did. It was headed north, between the mainland and the reef, when it suddenly headed west, straight through the reef. Authorities think the skipper may have been trying to save time. He and his crew have been arrested.

On top of the physical damage the 755-foot ship did, besides the tons of oil spilled on the delicate reef, authorities are afraid that paint from the ship's hull - which is toxic and meant to stop marine life from growing on the hull - was rubbed off the ship, "because it has immediately started killing off corals in the vicinity."

Photos here.


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