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. Tony in Phoneix

    I wonder can they transplant some of the living coral from the healthy part of the reef so it can act as a "seed" to spur new growth in the damaged area?

    April 13, 2010 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
  2. SkyDancer42

    Confiscation of, and subsequent auction of ship and cargo should help cover costs of reef repair.

    April 13, 2010 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Just Saying

    The Chinese will be the death of us all.

    April 13, 2010 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
  4. db

    The careless operation of large ships at sea should be looked into by the United Nations, and laws of each country affected. Until the shipping company or country of registration makes reperations for the violations and damage the ship and it's cargo should be confisgated and the crew sent home. There are to many shipping accidents involving either incompetance or poorly maintained vessels that lead to millions in damage or untold damage to the envirnment.

    April 13, 2010 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Taylor

    You can't charge for damages to the Earth. This is a common misconception with regards to emissions credits and such. If one company purchases credits from another, effectively making them "pay" for their emissions, they are hurting the environment while helping our government. We can't keep asking for money at the expense of our Earth.

    April 13, 2010 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
  6. davo/kissimmee

    Good luck in collecting damages!

    April 13, 2010 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
  7. steven harnack

    That should be a glaring example to the naysayers who continually deny that mans activity has an impact on the health of our planet.

    April 13, 2010 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Jeremy

    I agree with you Rudy. Its there mistake make them pay for it!!! 🙂

    April 13, 2010 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Paddy Iyer

    Well, who ever pays whatever, I hope it goes to the effort of cleaning this out! Not to some govt charity fund that will get dispersed into several areas.

    April 13, 2010 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Anonymous

    I agree, but something tells me that's unlikely to happen. The Chinese government tends not to give a crap about anything except serving its own self-interests.

    April 13, 2010 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Andagain

    How could the navigator be 17 MILES off-course ? Either no one was navigating or no one was on watch, and especially in such a sensitive area. Ignorant.

    April 13, 2010 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
  12. fireybuddha

    Man, I hope the Chinese get fined for damages. They need to learn decorum with the world instead of practicing their communist arrogance.

    April 13, 2010 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Murph

    Can thee Chinese build anything of quality that doesn't have the affect of harming children, pets, marine life, etc,,, etc... etc???

    April 13, 2010 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Kenny Thomas

    How do you stray 17 miles off course when ships today employ GPS navigation? The shipping company should be charged with gross negligence and be required to pay all damages.

    April 13, 2010 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
  15. PAT

    another strike against our earth!!

    April 13, 2010 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
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