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article imageOil From Cargo Ship Washes up on Morton Island

By Bob Ewing     Mar 11, 2009 in Environment
Fuel oil from the damaged cargo ship Pacific Adventurer has washed up on beaches along the eastern side of Moreton Island off Brisbane.
Australian National Parks and Wildlife staff have briefed the staff at the Tangalooma resort concerning the oil slick, however, at this stage it is believed the resort does not face any direct threat.
Channel Seven News helicopter pilot Greg Rogers was an eye witness, he said "The beaches for about 10 kilometres south of Cape Moreton, around the cape are just black." .
"It's very very nasty sight to see because its just such a pristine area as anybody who's been here will confess."
Michael Short from the Environmental Protection Agency says rough seas are helping break up the 20 tonnes of oil.
"Fortunate that that's actually helping limit any environmental effects," he said.'
Resort director Trevor Hassard said "The wind is coming in quite strongly from the south-easterly direction, so it's actually moving the oil away from the island, in a north-easterly direction unfortunately towards the Sunshine coast." he said.
"It's going to be around for quite a while and I think it's going to be quite a substantial clean-up job."
Emergency oil spill kits have already been sent over to the island.
"The National parks and Wildlife have picked those up and taken them to back to their base on Moreton Island," Hasard added.
"They've got quite a substantial staff. I believe that Marine Safety Queensland will be brining a lot more equipment over, to basically start looking at the oil spill and start ascertaining where to go from here."
There is an exclusion zone set up around the ship, which lost 31 containers overboard yesterday.
"We're pretty fortunate that the location the containers have come off the ship, it's pretty well outside any shorter water, it's in reasonably deep water," Short said.
The ship is currently,anchored off Moreton Island and is being inspected by a scientific team.
Aerial searches have not found the containers which were packed with ammonium nitrate.
The ship was carrying 60 containers of the chemical from Newcastle in New South Wales to Brisbane when it hit rough seas and lost half its load near North Stradbroke Island at about 5:00am AEST.
Captain John Watkinson from Maritime Safety Queensland said "Whether the ship was hit with a rogue wave or something like that we don't know and that's part of the investigation." he said.
Craig Bohm from the Australian Marine Conservation Society and others wonder why the ship was allowed to travel through the area.
"We're always concerned that ships shouldn't be moving in and out of Moreton Bay Marine Park during such conditions, they should perhaps be asked to wait offshore until such conditions pass," he said.
"Tthe Government and also the Opposition, during this election period, should be thinking more about securing Moreton Bay's health."
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