Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
. Earth Science News .

Australian tug reaches ship adrift off Barrier Reef
by Staff Writers
Sydney (AFP) May 20, 2012

An Australian tug boat Sunday reached a cargo ship which had been drifting off the Great Barrier Reef, as environmentalists warned that greater shipping traffic could harm the world's biggest coral reef.

The Hong Kong-flagged bulk carrier ID Integrity broke down north of the Queensland city of Cairns on Friday, sparking alarm that the 186-metre (610-foot), 45,000 tonne bulk carrier would smash into a reef near the World Heritage-listed site.

Simon Meyjes, who heads the century-old marine group Australian Reef Pilots, said it was "sheer luck" that the Integrity had not run aground at the dive site Shark Reef or nearby.

He said it appeared an environmental disaster had been averted by the crew dumping some of the Integrity's sea water ballast so it passed over Shark Reef.

"I don't know what the actual under keel clearance would have been as it went over the reef," he told AFP. "But certainly it would have been a very, very uncomfortable situation. They were at the mercy of the weather completely.

"I think that they have been very, very lucky."

Meyjes said had the Townsville-bound Integrity drifted slightly further to the north, it could have hit Osprey Reef, an exposed coral outcrop.

"So it's just sheer luck," he said. "We're all breathing a huge sigh of relief I can assure you."

The ship, which suffered an engine breakdown en route from Shanghai, was reached by a commercial tug, PT Kotor, on Sunday as it drifted in open water in the Coral Sea.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) said the tug had connected a towline to the Integrity and they were travelling slowly away from the Outer Reef and awaiting the arrival of the larger tugs.

The ship's owner, Hong Kong-based ID Wallem, said its vessel was empty and there had been no pollution spills, adding it would "take measures to avoid any environmental impact in Australian waters".

But the incident has angered conservationists who have long raised fears about the impact on the Great Barrier Reef, particularly from shipping, from Queensland's coal and gas boom.

The Chinese-registered coal carrier Shen Neng 1 foundered in April 2010 leaking tonnes of heavy fuel oil and threatening an ecological disaster.

A major catastrophe was ultimately avoided but the huge ship gouged a three kilometre-long (1.8 mile) scar in the world's biggest coral reef and was stranded for nine days before salvagers could refloat it.

Environmental group WWF Australia said in the latest incident, a major disaster had been averted by only a matter of metres.

It said the forecast increase in shipping traffic in the waters off Queensland was "a risky game of Russian roulette that is destined to end in disaster".

The independent activist group GetUp! said the stricken Integrity proved it would be reckless to increase traffic in the region.

"The incident should be of concern to all Australians. It's more likely to occur in the future as we see more and more ships use the Great Barrier Reef to export coal," national director Simon Sheikh told ABC Radio.

But Queensland Premier Campbell Newman said the theory that more ships would necessarily result in more accidents near the reef did not stand up.

"If that was the case then people would be involved in far more plane crashes today than we saw 20 years ago, and clearly that's not the case," he said.

Earlier this year representatives from UNESCO visited Queensland to inspect the reef to check for any impact from coal and gas projects, which use ports near the Great Barrier Reef to export their products. They have yet to report.


Related Links
Our Polluted World and Cleaning It Up

Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

Nanotube 'sponge' has potential in oil spill cleanup
Oak Ridge, TN (SPX) May 17, 2012
A carbon nanotube sponge that can soak up oil in water with unparalleled efficiency has been developed with help from computational simulations performed at the Department of Energy's (DOE's) Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Carbon nanotubes, which consist of atom-thick sheets of carbon rolled into cylinders, have captured scientific attention in recent decades because of their high strength ... read more

Dazed and angry residents count losses of Italy quake

Italy quake zone hit by aftershocks as 5,000 seek shelter

Four climbers die on Everest: officials

20 dead in tunnel blast in China: state media

Loral-Built Nimiq 6 Satellite ly Performs Post-Launch Maneuvers

China firm buys AMC to create cinema giant

At seventh birthday, YouTube marks new milestones

SciTechTalk: Google to reign in Android

Levels of the Dead Sea causing worry

Call for Great Barrier Reef shipping review

Climate scientists say they have solved riddle of rising sea

Water supply cut near Tokyo due to toxin contamination

Scientists discover new site of potential instability in West Antarctic Ice Sheet

Farewell to the Sun

Russia's Antarctic probes to be tested in Ladoga Lake

Climate scientists discover new weak point of the Antarctic ice sheet

Earthquake puts pressure on Italy's parmesan makers

When the soil holds not enough phosphorus

North Koreans in rice belt starve to death: report

Plant growth without light control

Flash floods kill 19 in Afghanistan: official

Strong Italy quake kills at least six

First tropical storm of season forms off US east coast

Italians shelter in cars after deadly quake

Army, mutineers clash near DR Congo rare gorilla park

Ethiopian shoe factory widens China's Africa footprint

UN praises progress in Liberia since end of civil wars

Nigeria, Senegal, Burkina Faso troops head to G.Bissau

Urban landscape's power to hurt or heal

Anthropologists discover earliest form of wall art

Evolution's gift may also be at the root of a form of autism

Anthropologist finds explanation for hominin brain evolution in famous fossil

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement