Cosco Group Could Face $1M Fine For Barrier reef Oil Spill

April 6th, 2010 - 11:12 pm ICT by Angela Kaye Mason  

Apr 06 (THAINDIAN NEWS) The Shen Neng, a Chinese coal-carrying ship ran aground on Douglas Shoals, of the Great Keppel Tourist Resort off of the coast of Queensland Australia. When the ship ploughed full speed ahead right into the protected area of the Great Barrier Reef, it was a great bit off course. It hit the reef at full speed, 15 km or 9 miles outside of the shipping lane. After the crash, the police reported that the boat was leaking oil and was damaged badly on the port side, which left it in danger of tearing apart. Patches of oil were seen near the ship pretty quickly after the crash occurred.

The police sent a boat in on Sunday to remain on standby in case the 23 crew members needed to be evacuated. At that time the oil slick was 100 yards wide and stretched for 2 miles. Approximately 2 tons of oil had already spilled into the ocean at the Great Barrier Reef, causing serious dangers to the marine life there. On Monday two tugboats came in to stabilize the ship so that it would not rip apart and cause even more damage to the reef. On Tuesday, a boom was placed around the ship to try and stop the oil from leaking any further.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd finds it outrageous that the ship was that far off course and thus caused so much damage to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. He maintains that those to blame must be held accountable. “It is outrageous that any vessel could find itself 12 kilometres off course in the Great Barrier Reef,” he said.

“From my point of view as Prime Minister of Australia, there is no greater natural asset for Australia than the Great Barrier Reef,” he added.

“I take any threat to the Great Barrier Reef fundamentally seriously.

“The practical challenge is to deal with this situation now. The practical challenge then is to bring to account those who are responsible,” he said.

Authorities have not yet determined whether the ship’s crew was “taking a shortcut” or were fatigued, but whatever the reason, Shenzhen Energy, which is a subsidiary of China’s largest shipping operator, the Cosco Group could be fined up to 1 million Australian dollars ($920,000) for straying from the authorized shipping lane.

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