02 February 2006

Australian oil spill 'tragedy for marine life'

A oil spill in the Australian state of Queensland is being described as a tragedy for the area's marine life.

Authorities worked for more than 24 hours to contain the spill in Gladstone Harbour on the central Queensland coast, after 25,000 litres of heavy fuel poured from a coal carrier late on Tuesday night.

The ABC reports the accident happened when a tug rammed into a Korean coal carrier, rupturing its fuel tank. The clean-up is expected to take up to a week and cost more than $A3 million.

The Wildlife Protection Association of Australia (WPAA) says the spill inside the harbour occurred in the worst place possible. President Pat O'Brien says the area has dugongs, crocodiles, turtles and seabirds that will be affected by the spill.

A marine investigator from the Australian Transport Safety Bureau says preliminary investigations into the spill should be completed by Friday afternoon.

The commercial fishing industry in Gladstone says it is on the brink of collapse following the spill.

It is the worst oil spill in Queensland since the Oceanic Grandeur ran aground in the Torres Strait in 1970 and the second spill in Gladstone's Harbour within a week. About a tonne of oil was spilled in the harbour last week.

Source: www.radionz.co.nz


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