Australia detains ship that spilt oil

March 15th, 2009 - 6:33 pm ICT by IANS  

Sydney, March 15 (DPA) The Hong Kong-owned ship that spilt oil over 60 km of beaches on Australia’s east coast was impounded in Brisbane harbour Sunday.
The start of legal action against the Pacific Adventurer came as the state government in Queensland said it was half way through a clean up operation that began after Wednesday’s spill.

Bribie Island and the Sunshine Coast are now almost free of oil but only a quarter of the fouled beaches on Moreton Island are clear.

Oil sprang from the 180-metre vessel when containers that fell overboard in a storm holed the hull and pierced fuel tanks.

Owners Swire Shipping Ltd said 42 tonnes of marine diesel had leaked from one fuel tank, but estimates of the actual amount go much higher and the company has now conceded that two tanks were holed.

Paul Lucas, deputy premier of Queensland, accused the captain of the Pacific Adventurer of trying to conceal the scale of the accident.

“We are determined to find out why we were told 30 tonnes of fuel, when it was about 230 tonnes,” Lucas told reporters.

Swire Shipping countered that the captain and crew were telling the truth and did not know a second fuel tank had been pierced until the ship docked in Brisbane Friday.

Maritime safety officers under a police escort boarded the ship and served legal papers on the captain. He has been ordered to surrender his passport and remain on the ship for at least the next two weeks.

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