Hinterland Green

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Chinese Ship Put a Two-Mile Gash in Great Barrier Reef, Could Take Decades to Recover

From Grist:
A Chinese ship that spent nine days stranded on the Great Barrier Reef gouged a two-mile scar in the coral that could take decades to recover, a top expert said on Tuesday. David Wachenfeld, chief scientist at the body overseeing the heritage-listed marine park, said the Shen Neng 1 coal carrier had been grinding against and crushing the reef after it veered off course and smashed into it on April 3.
Officials have expressed anger over the incident and accused the crew of the ship, which was refloated late on Monday and towed away, of taking an illegal route.

"This is by far the largest ship-grounding scar we have seen on the Great Barrier Reef to date," Wachenfeld told public broadcaster ABC. "This vessel did not make an impact in one place and rest there and then was pulled off. This scar is more in the region of three kilometres long and up to 250 meters wide."

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd expressed anger at the accident, which also leaked about two tons of fuel oil into the pristine seas. "It is still an absolute outrage that this vessel could've landed on the Great Barrier Reef," he said. "We will leave no stone unturned when it comes to finding out how that happened."

An approaching storm hurried authorities into refloating the 750-foot ship -- the length of two football fields-- after nightfall on Monday. They pumped compressed air into its bunkers and pulled it free using tugboats. Officials said the rescue had been carried out without adding to the initial oil spill, which created a two-mile slick.
Read more:  Chinese ship gouged two-mile scar in Great Barrier Reef | Grist
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