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. AJ

    First, the ship didn't stray off course...it was taking a "shortcut" to save time. And, now that Australia is aware of this practice (if not aware before) they need to take steps to put an end to it. Satellite monitoring and other electronic means to ensure that the reef is protected. Given its importance to the environment and to the Australian economy, I'm surprised these measures are not already in place.

    April 13, 2010 at 8:56 pm | Report abuse |
  2. GimmeABreak

    It's easy to blame the Chinese. What about Exxon and the Prince William Sound in 1989? That was drunk Captain Hazelwood that time and Exxon is still dragging it feet on restitution. Stop pointing the finger and wake up to the realities of what your won countries do too.

    April 13, 2010 at 8:56 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Rob

    17 miles off course? Wow....was there a storm? The owner of the ship should pay for all reparations to the reef immediately no dragging the issue through court for 10 – 20 years like the Exxon Valdez and other incidents. The big businesses in this world feel they can destroy anything including humans then liitgate for years and years and get the fines reduced then appeal again and again and in the end what Justice is served? I will answer my question the justice big business pays for with it's bribes, campaign contributions, backroom negotiations, situational leverage ect....There is NO LAW for business only for us....we go to jail if we break a law, we pay a fine, only the rich get justice and it is the justice they PAY for.

    April 13, 2010 at 8:59 pm | Report abuse |
  4. dp

    the chinese should pay for this.

    April 13, 2010 at 9:03 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Bran

    The Chinese government should be fined? Are you serious?! The United States is one of the main contributors when it comes to maritime damage. Does the U.S. government pay for this? Well, probably seeing as the U.S. likes to not have black marks on its record. The simple fact is, the only people at fault for this incident is the Captain of the ship and the tracker that was in charge of ensuring that ship stayed on course. Once a ship crosses into another countrys' waters it is assigned someone to make sure it doesn't stray off course. Obviously, this tracker, who believe it or not is employed by Australia, didn't do his/her job. Fine that person, not the government where the ship is registered.

    April 13, 2010 at 9:14 pm | Report abuse |
  6. S

    I totally agree that the company should reimburse Austrailia or whoever is going to pay to try to repair the reef. But what is it with the things out of China that they are SO contaminated and toxic?? What do they put in the paint and metals and jewelry and food??

    April 13, 2010 at 9:39 pm | Report abuse |
  7. DS

    I agree Australia should hit this company with a hefty fine and look for some enforcement cooperation from the chinese. The captain and managing crew should feel some financial penalty as well.

    April 13, 2010 at 9:57 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Karma

    6.9-magnitude earthquake strikes China

    April 13, 2010 at 10:02 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Michiglen

    This ship has caused lasting damage because the decision was made to take a shortcut to save around $2000 worth of fuel. The lawsuit should be for the same number in millions to allow for future rehabilitation of the area and monitoring by the naval authority to ensure it does not happen again. Better still, the shipping route should be altered to go around the other side of the reef, not between the reef and Australia. Shipping companies make big bucks, changing their course for the sake of a natural wonder of the world is priceless.

    April 13, 2010 at 10:19 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Pam R.

    Okay,once again the damage has been done. Now all of the figure heads will talk about it for who knows how long- let us get it together and act swiftly to ensure we don't continue repeating our mistakes- It would be nice to work TOGETHER once in a while instead of wasting time pointing fingers!!!

    April 13, 2010 at 10:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • greenvilletammy

      Finally someone with some sense!!! Did everyone read this persons post?????

      October 20, 2010 at 9:22 pm | Report abuse |
  11. SFC Dan

    Our Country is destroying peoples lives and you are only concerned about a coral reef?
    You slam China. What we are doing is no accident. Our attitude is so arrogant! Do you think terrorists attacked us for no reason? A question of balance is all I ask.

    April 13, 2010 at 10:30 pm | Report abuse |
  12. bill

    well the chinese like to execute drug smugglers quick and fast so think, maybe the top 5 crew members should be charged with criminal negligence , convicted and executed, then the chinees goverment foot the bill for repair / restoration and maintenance of sy 7 miles of the reef for 25 years.

    the crew was probably so trusting of the boat technology that they were doing other things

    April 13, 2010 at 10:33 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Scott

    I agree that the shipping company should be penalized. But what would the reaction be if it had been an American vessel?

    April 13, 2010 at 11:00 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Herbie

    The Chinese need to pay reparations.

    April 13, 2010 at 11:08 pm | Report abuse |
  15. NY

    Big surprise! A Chinese company disregards international law, destroys the environment and puts lives at risk for a few bucks!
    Don't expect to see and cent of compensation or a word of apology from the owners of this ship, if they can indeed ever be located.

    April 13, 2010 at 11:17 pm | Report abuse |
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