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. Jeff

    What needs to change in the world's legal system is the elimination of limited liability for corporate shareholders. As it is now, stupid practices by companies threaten OUR planet's ecosystems (OUR life support). Our planet's ecosystems and our life-support are undervalued politically and by business' financial valuation system. Spoilage by business only threaten the financial well-being of companies, not the shareholders. By cutting corners, stockholders reap tremendous financial benefits, but not held liable for catastrophe like this, which was obviously preventable. What needs to change is the elimination of limited liability and to make corporations legally like partnerships, where partners are liable. Sure this will have a chilling effect on some shareholders, but these people are used to sitting on their butts and counting there money. Why not give the more aggressive ones something more challenging. This form of stockholder/stakeholder would force the investor into an active participation in the corporation's world and not a passive role of speculation and counting dividends.

    April 13, 2010 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Chris

    I agree with Rudy. The Ship's owner and operator – or the Chinese government should pay for the damage.

    April 13, 2010 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
  3. nje

    Well I'm sure the Chinese, being the guardians of the enviroment they are, will step right up to make it good, being deeply concerned how their affect the rest of us.

    April 13, 2010 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Belinda

    They should be forced to seek any necessary means in order to maintain and protect the part they have destroyed. If there is literally nothing that can be done to help sustain marine life at the crash site then they should be forced to spend on protecting the reef itself. They and the other vessels responsible for any crashes must be made examples of to the rest of these greedy and self serving corporations that are in charge of these boats and the goods they carry. They absolutely must be forced to pay monetary and public restitutions. The fines alone are insufficient for the devastation they have caused!

    April 13, 2010 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Ray

    The Chinese goverment could care less about this incident

    April 13, 2010 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Jiminycat

    How does this sort of thing keep happening in this day & age of accurate mapping and GPS navigation? For cryin' out loud, we aren't sailing galleons anymore!

    April 13, 2010 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Bobbie

    Is anyone surprised that it's a CHINESE vessel involved?! How long is the international community going to let these people get away with poisoning the world?!

    April 13, 2010 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
  8. MARCIA

    China seems to make an awful lot of terribly toxic things. Pet food,children's toys,paint,drywall.
    They need to step up to the plate and realize they,too,have a responsibility to this planet!

    April 13, 2010 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Alan

    Obviously, the Captain of the ship needs to lose his license. Fine the Captain and the company as well. How can a ship be 17 mile off course with GPS navigation now a days? I read another article which said they may have done it on purpose to try to cut time/distance off their route.

    April 13, 2010 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Pipsqueek

    Chinese government should be paying loads of money to unscrew what they just did. Does anyone care anymore or is everything expendable? There is going to be nothing left. Perhaps they need another tainted milk issue for mother nature to get even? I have no sympathy. Stop destroying our planet!

    April 13, 2010 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Aussie McDaniels

    Why are ships even allowed in such proxmity to the reef? Even if it costs billions ... the ships should be routed hundreds of miles away from the reef ... if only to prevent this from happening again.

    April 13, 2010 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Theresa

    I do so wish that our government would put trade barriers into place until the countries that we import from have the same water, air, and soil protection laws that we do – along with comparable labor laws. Corporations went overseas because they could not compete with countries that pay LOW wages and dump their waste anywhere – if our government had required the same protections and manufacturing as is required in the U.S., maybe these companies wouldn't have taken all our jobs overseas.

    April 13, 2010 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
  13. susan

    This is horrible. International maritime laws need to be revised to outlaw the use of this paint. It is time the international community comes down on China for it's total disregard for the welfare of the planet we all share.

    April 13, 2010 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Ae Pucc

    Accidents happen, shortcuts to make a buck always happen, so lets drill out the Arctic and send nuke waste by train bus & bicycle across the US, because the company's that stand to make big bucks say it is JUST FINE be Happy, No Worries!!

    April 13, 2010 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Rose

    I agree, the Chinese government should be held accountable. The toxic fouling paint has probably disturbed other marine life elsewhere. Something needs to be done with the Chinese and their toxic paint on toys, sheetrock in houses, etc. Soon the word toxic will be synonymous with the word "Chinese." Enough already.

    April 13, 2010 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
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