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. Jack

    Want his stuff to stopp happening then stop buying products made in China. I know it is not as easy as it sounds because today everything is made in China.

    April 14, 2010 at 10:38 am | Report abuse |
  2. Paul

    Warming sea temperatures have already made the reef a fragile ecosystem. Any damage is serious

    April 14, 2010 at 10:44 am | Report abuse |
  3. jeb clampet

    this was caused by inattention of indivduals not big business. some people just have to blame big business for everything and it reflects on how narrow minded they really are. If it wasn't for the tax dollars driven by big business there wouldn't be any money to manage the reef

    April 14, 2010 at 10:45 am | Report abuse |
  4. Nicole

    "It's sad taht a ship captain would be so far off-course in todays' age of GPS systems"

    Unfortunately it wasn't off course. Ships have been cutting through this area for years to speed up transit times. By cutting through the reef they can sometimes cut of as many as 4 days on their journey back and forth. More profit for the shipping company. Australia has decided to widen the area that the radar and sattelite images regularly check to include these areas of the reef and will start fining shipps that continue to take this illegal detour.

    Of course the crew is going to say they were just off course, but i bet a thorough check of their maps and navigation system will show they were only slightly off course (in hitting the reef), but that their planed course still took them outisde the normal shipping lanes and into the heritage site water.

    April 14, 2010 at 10:46 am | Report abuse |
  5. Dan

    Say, where do you think China gets 1/2 the coal it imports (necessary for energy and manufacturing needs)? AUSTRALIA. Of the 110+million tons of coal imported into China during 2009, the vast majority was imported from AUSTRALIA.
    In late summer of 2009, Chinese government owned and controlled PetroChina has a $41billion/yr purchasing contract with AUSTRALIA.
    The political and economic relationship will overshadow any crimes committed against the people of Australia or its natural resourced.

    April 14, 2010 at 10:55 am | Report abuse |
  6. Nathan Jacobs

    They should quit being retarded and make safer boats

    April 14, 2010 at 11:01 am | Report abuse |
  7. Todd Goodlock

    The subject of your article is a commercial vessel. Why are you not concerned about any and all privately own boats and ships? Any vessel from sailboats to powerboats left in water anywhere on earth has bottom coatings which deter marine growth. Yet no one seems to care about these. The bottom coatings are designed descinegrate over time. The coatings fall off into the seawater and eventually to the lake or sea bottom where additional harm is done to marine growth. So the commercial ship damaged the reef and so do the many pleasure craft visiting the reef day in day out.

    April 14, 2010 at 11:05 am | Report abuse |
  8. Rick

    The Chinese government needs to pay for the cleanup and restoration of the reef. They could care less about anything but the money their country rakes in or how their businesses are run.. as long as they are undercutting the competition. I hope China implodes... or a big volcano erupts in beijing.

    April 14, 2010 at 11:10 am | Report abuse |
  9. Steve

    China bad, We all good.

    Let us not forget the Exxon Valdez in "89 in beautiful Alaska and the Ixtoc I exploratory well blew out on June 3, 1979 in the Bay of Campeche off Ciudad del Carmen, Mexico '89 , and the Bouchard B155 barge, the freighter Balsa 37, and the barge Ocean 255 all collided in Tampa bay in '93. These are just a few incidents that ALL countries and their so-called "untrained staff" have performed over the years. I am not defending China in any way, just trying to make the point that there is probably not a country around that is not responsible for damaging the enviornment in such a great magnitude as this if not worse, try not to be such hypocrites and be careful as to who casts the first stone.

    Happy Sailing

    April 14, 2010 at 11:39 am | Report abuse |
  10. nutup

    "larry" and "a ship captain" have it right. QUIT BUYING THAT CRAP-ALL OF YOU

    April 14, 2010 at 11:44 am | Report abuse |
  11. Ben

    This incident may not have a huge impact on the Great Barrier Reef, but compound it with the oceans getting more acidic, it certainly doesn't help.

    April 14, 2010 at 12:01 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Sick and Tired

    The Chinese don't care about their own environment, why do people assume they would care about any other part of the world?? That is like saying "why did that tiger attack me?" It's what they do. Don't like it, don't buy Chinese products (Pro Tip: they are junk and toxic). I miss the days the Japanese were making our stuff.

    China has been in a "Ends Justify The Means" economy for the last 60 years. They don't care if millions of people die of cancer in their own country, their rivers run black with chemicals, and poor villagers have no clean water to drink. China want to be a industrial world superpower and not the "Sick men of Asia!" The world cannot support a China with a Western style of life. Impossible, yet China is trying (human nature, can't blame em). The Earth simply doesn't have the resources to give a Billion plus people that kind of life. To even try is to see nature thrown under the wheels of industrialization like never seen before. Seng Neng for example. The biggest threat is not a ship running aground on the reef, but the warming of the ocean which threatens the entire ecology plankton on down.

    China is the straw the broke the camel's back as far as the heath of the world's environment. The U.S. and western countries are culpable too due to allowing companies to outsource their manufacturing there to avoid U.S. environmental laws. Hey, as long as somebody gets rich right.

    The Earth and western consumer driven civilization is doomed. Grab what you can now, plan for a VERY modest life in the coming decades, we are in for a bumpy ride.

    Humans won't stop taking form the Earth until there is NOTHING left to take.

    Go China Go!

    April 14, 2010 at 12:14 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Captain Jimdandy

    I think your news story is very shallow and lacking so much why,and who. All I'm getting is where and when, and what happened. Why copy a news story and just publish it when it lacks so much! I think this is a really news worthy and your telling of what really happened here is certainly unworthy of such a worldly worthy "CNN" ! TELL ME WHO THE CAPTAIN WAS, A LITTLE ABOUT HIM AND HIS CREW? Last I heard was the Captain is always responsible for what the ship does. Was he drug tested? Who did he have at the helm? What is his story? Why was the ship there and not where it was suppose to be? In the states we have radar monitoring of all traffic in areas where traffic should be monitored for many reasons, formost being envoiormental. Example the L.O.O.P in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of La. Why wouldn't the Great Barrier Reef have such an inexpensive protection system like a Radar monitoring system? Why aren't the news people asking questions like that? Your news reporting is more like speading hate and discontent rather that what is the human element is involved here. Can this be blamed on mechanical error or human error?
    Many of the maritime laws we have now are because some sailor lost his life. I'm glad there was no loss of human life. Certainly a wake up call here, or RED FLAG! Why are so many commenting and what they are saying should be your barometer of the quality of your story. If you wanted people to comment on a story, this is a winner. If you think this is a news worthy story your a loser! I'll bet you don't print this. Retired Capt. in Nevada. P.S. Tony #151 is right.

    April 14, 2010 at 12:16 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Hank Castello

    I don't know about commercial shipping, but 19 miles (off course) isn't much when you're sailing in the middle of a huge ocean. Why is the shipping lane so close to the reef?

    April 14, 2010 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Kevin

    More proof that that amazing Clean Coal! It's not even being used yet and WOW! look at the cleanliness it's putting on the environment! Fantastic!

    April 14, 2010 at 2:15 pm | Report abuse |
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