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. Tino

    This reef is so big that the damage is a mere minor scratch. I think the Australians will do a great job restoring whatever needs to be restored.

    April 13, 2010 at 1:46 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Rudy

    I hope the dammage will be charged to the company owning/operating the vessel. If they can't pay for it, the Chinese government should.

    April 13, 2010 at 1:49 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Mick Fridley

    Again, we leave big business running things their own way and this is what "trickles down" to the people of the world – not prosperity or jobs, my friend.

    April 13, 2010 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Matt

    So many things wrong with the way things were done here. It's sad taht a ship captain would be so far off-course in todays' age of GPS systems. Then to ruin miles of the largest reef system in our world, only to run aground and lose oil! Please help clean this up!

    April 13, 2010 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Anne Siems

    The Chinese government should be held accountable for the expense and restoration of the reef in addition to a huge fine that serves as a warning to those who do not place the planet's health as the priority that most of the rest of the world gives it.

    April 13, 2010 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Kenn

    I'm in total agreement with that. There has to be consequences for acting irresponsibly outside of their sovereignty.
    .

    April 13, 2010 at 2:18 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Nicholas Scaife

    When all the reefs die from accidents like this and the typhoons slam into Australia with more intentsity because the reefs are no longer there to protect the shoreline...China should give all Australians passports to live there in mainland China. These companies don't give a damn about Nature...especially the Chinese. It's all about the dollar. Start learning Cantonese.

    April 13, 2010 at 2:23 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Randy

    I agree, if the owner's can not pay then the Chinese government should for allowing susbtandard ships and poorly tained crews to subject all the worl's reefs to such potential damage.

    April 13, 2010 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
  9. N Little

    Wow. China strikes again. I've recently watched a number of specials on TV around marine and nature issues like dolphin, whale and general over-fishing of areas around the African coast causing massive depletion in fish stock, I come away with a feeling that China has this thumb their nose attitude and screw the rest of the world. I'm not a PETA, Greenpeace or whatever supporter. But I have to tell you, I'm getting really tired of their "GOD" complex and their attitude to the rest of the earths creatures.

    April 13, 2010 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Grant

    They were clearly going through a restricted area (not even close to the approved shipping lane). There should be some serious fines for (or lawsuits about) this.

    April 13, 2010 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Jason M.

    I agree, the owner/oeprator whould pay for cleanup of the reef, and if they can't hanle it, it should be paid for by the chinese government, or what ever country the ship is registered in.

    April 13, 2010 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Mike

    This makes me very angry, and I don't know why.

    April 13, 2010 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
  13. casey

    They should pay every dime to repair what they have destroyed. Im sure if something were to happen to the great wall they would be concerned. But then if there was a buck to be made they would take a dozer to it in a heartbeat.

    April 13, 2010 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Jan

    Leave it to the chinese to polute and destroy more of this planet. They don't care and never will! Shame on them and shame on the world that let them get away with so much because of the all mighty buck!

    April 13, 2010 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Greg

    This incident serves to demonstrate the need to more closely monitor and track shipping worldwide, including making nations of registration responsible for shipping that sails under their flags. A worldwide treaty about inspection and tracking with national navies and coastguards tracking all ships and a supra national force monitoring all traffic in international waters.

    April 13, 2010 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
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