April 13th, 2010
01:02 PM ET

Chairman: Ship's paint brings instant death to Great Barrier Reef

The Shen Neng 1 ran across a coral reef causing toxic paint to scrape off, which has killed parts of the coral almost immediately.

The Chinese coal ship that ran on to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef last week has damaged a two-mile (three kilometer) stretch of the World Heritage Area that could take years to repair, the chairman of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority said Tuesday.

Chairman Russell Reichelt told CNN affiliate ABC News in Australia that toxic anti-fouling paint had been scraped off the Shen Neng 1 as it ran across the coral reef. The paint contains biocides that prevent barnacles and other marine organisms from attaching to the hulls of ships.

"The paint that's been scraped off onto the reef is killing corals in its vicinity or they're showing signs of almost immediate mortality from being close to the anti-fouling," Reichelt told ABC News.

Reichelt said repairing the damage left by the Shen Neng 1 will likely be largest operation ever undertaken on the reef, a World Heritage Area.

Australian authorities have said the coal carrier was more than 17 miles off course when it ran aground on Douglas Shoal on April 4. The ship was refloated Tuesday and towed to a safe anchorage off the reef.

The ship leaked some oil when it hit the reef, but authorities said dispersants used had kept damage from any oil slick to a minimum.

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Filed under: Australia • World
soundoff (206 Responses)
  1. JacklynD

    Our poor ocean. Besides all the crap we throw into our water supply from factories, pollution, and drugs now we are adding toxic paint? How widespread is the use of the paint and how is it affecting sealife? Does it completely adhere to the ships without leeching into the water? Are they using it on docks too?

    April 14, 2010 at 7:41 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Anonymous

    I am a fervent supporter of Marine Life and the reefs here in Australia and while I despise the carelessness of the Chinese and their pathetic regards and respect for other people, I think some of these comments are pure hatred. But hey, I somewhat agree, who did they get 17 miles off course? That's ridiculous! The crew should be out there helping us once the reef is open for rebuilding. I don't want my #1 scuba spot to be destroyed! >:(
    See you guys at the reef.

    April 14, 2010 at 8:41 pm | Report abuse |
  3. MaryZKL

    I keep asking, why, after all the recalls ..... the lead in children's toys, lead in the glazes of our dishes, gluten in our food and pet food, toxic drywall, bad tires, toxic children's jewelry, etc., etc., etc., why is our government still trading with China? Are we that afraid they will call in their loans? Is cheap more important than safe? What is going on here?

    April 18, 2010 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Rob Weltner

    I think this shines a bright light on the very serious and widely unknown problem of boat bottom paint killing all types of marine life.

    April 21, 2010 at 9:02 am | Report abuse |
  5. Capt. Zeb

    Wait, We worry about a piece of excreation from a salt water biological snail, but it is alright for entire forests on land to be leveled for our houses and whales to be hunted into extinction?

    July 5, 2010 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse |
  6. bozo

    Another example in thousands of the complete chinese disregard for the biosphere and focus exclusively on profits!

    October 23, 2010 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
  7. mask2697

    Of course its the Chinese that are poisoning the Coral, They don't get enough satisfaction in giving Lead poisoning to Toddlers apparently

    October 24, 2010 at 10:08 pm | Report abuse |
  8. D. Visona

    Coral reef's are dying all over the Pacific regardless of what the Chinese are doing with paint on a ship. Besides global warming, the ocean's have become garbage dumps. Greed rules the day and humans are too stupid to realize we are running out of time on this planet to repair all the damage previously done..............Oh well!

    October 26, 2010 at 6:16 am | Report abuse |
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    April 7, 2012 at 2:11 am | Report abuse |
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