Languages
Page last updated at 05:34 GMT, Tuesday, 13 April 2010 06:34 UK

China ship 'seriously damaged' Great Barrier Reef

By Nick Bryant
BBC News, Sydney

File pic of part of Great Barrier Reef
Toxic paint from the ship has already begun killing off coral in the area

The Australian authorities have said a Chinese bulk carrier which ran aground off Queensland has caused widespread damage to the famed Great Barrier Reef.

The cleanup is likely to be the biggest operation ever undertaken there.

The Shen Neng 1 was refloated on Monday night, in a salvage operation brought forward because of the threat of bad weather and heavy seas.

The Australian government has indicated that a prosecution will follow because the ship ran aground in a no-go zone.

Divers have now had the chance to deliver an early assessment of the harm done to the reef, and have found coral damage and paint scrapings that stretch for more than 1km (0.6 miles).

The head of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority said there was significant scarring, and that the cleanup was likely to be the biggest operation ever undertaken on the world heritage-listed reef.

The damage might not have been so extensive had the Shen Neng 1 simply run aground and stopped.

Queensland State transport minister Rachel Nolan: "They've identified coral damage"

But the winds and currents meant that the 230m (750ft) coal carrier kept on grinding against a coral shoal for more than a kilometre during the week it was stranded, turning coral into dust.

The authorities are particularly worried about toxic paint that has been scraped off the hull - because it has immediately started killing off corals in the vicinity.

The paint is designed to stop things growing on the hulls of ships, and it could be weeks before the full extent of the damage is known.

The Chinese vessel is now in safe anchorage, having been refloated in a salvage operation brought forward because of the threat of bad weather.

It is believed that the operation was completed without adding to the two tonne oil spill which seeped from the vessel immediately after it went aground.

Map of Queensland showing where ship is stranded



Print Sponsor


SEE ALSO
Australia refloats Reef coal ship
12 Apr 10 |  Asia-Pacific
Australia to remove Reef ship oil
07 Apr 10 |  Asia-Pacific
Barrier Reef route 'outrageous'
06 Apr 10 |  Asia-Pacific
Battle to stabilise Reef vessel
05 Apr 10 |  Asia-Pacific
Alert over Barrier Reef oil leak
04 Apr 10 |  Asia-Pacific

RELATED BBC LINKS

RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

BBC navigation

BBC © 2013 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific