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.

Post by:
Filed under: Australia • World
soundoff (206 Responses)
  1. Ray

    If they were 15 miles off course, why not not stop or slow down untill they get them self`s back on couse. But leave it up to the Chinese, if there not hunting whales out of there country, there killing reef`s. I hope they are charged in one way or another for what dammage they have caused !!!!!

    April 13, 2010 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Sharon

    "Pay for it" – we will all pay for it – another source of oxygen producing life destroyed – wake up world this is the alarm clock for our lives!!!

    April 13, 2010 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
  3. doby

    this is just an outrage! How the heck are you 17 miles off coarse. I know how, cause you have an unexperienced captian behind the helm. Make the company pay for the entire clean up and any other cost associated with having to save one of the most magnificant living creations in the world. If they dont have enough money then make China pay!!!!!

    April 13, 2010 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse |
  4. alex

    By the " overwhelming" number of comments one can only guess that not too many people are interested in tankers ramming reefs, or nature care for that matter: SAD

    April 13, 2010 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Karl

    The ocean is huge and navigation is difficult. 17 miles seems like a lot, but when you can see for hundreds of miles around you it isn't that far. I hope that the company in question investigates throughly and shares the results in the interest of furthering our knowledge of avoiding such problems, I further hope that the company in question and the chinese government will cooperate with other governments in repairing the damage because of its value and beauty to the world and not out of any sense of blame. Accidents can, do and will continue to happen. Our country (the USA) is not without its' own share of accidents.

    April 13, 2010 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
  6. MIke, Dallas, TX

    You know the Chinese might be able to produce things "cheaper" however, no protocols for safety are adhered as well as no regulatory concerns! I jcan just imagine the disease and medical problems incurred by their people in 10-20 years. They should learn from the mistakes (ie...lead based paint, asbestos.. etc) we (The U.S.) made over the years... We discovered those problems after costly mistakes were made and worked promptly to correct them with stronger regulatory measures and stringent new laws.

    April 13, 2010 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Nasty Nate

    So take the boat, charge the captain, Sue the Chinese. This type of thing needs to be stopped once and for all. All these companies know is money. Take them for everything, Stop trade if need be.

    April 13, 2010 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
  8. The Scotsman

    Agree with you, Rudy...Make them pay.

    April 13, 2010 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Robert - USA

    Seize the vessel and detain the crew. This is a crime plain and simple, all those aboard are complicit and the vessel is a criminal tool. The political backlash from China would be worth it as they are one of the worst environmental offenders on the planet. Its time to send them a wake-up call.

    April 13, 2010 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Sam

    Who's operating (driving) this ship anyways, that it ran aground on a protected coral reef? The ship's company had better pay for the monterous environmental damage they've caused. Of course, they'll probably just get a hand slap! Shameful!

    April 13, 2010 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
  11. joel lohr

    The Chinese. Take ownership of a problem? Stop it. Get serioius.

    April 13, 2010 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Deborah Augsburger

    I hope that China and this shipping company is HEAVILY penalized and that additional regulations are implemented.

    April 13, 2010 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
  13. KDC

    Agreed.....and we humans need to learn to not mess with these chemicals since they can do so much damage. The human cost of cleaning the ships is better than the environmental cost of the damage to the reef. The human cost can be absorbed but the reef is dying.

    April 13, 2010 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Chuck

    I agree with Rudy in that charges should be filed to the company, This is an absolute disaster in the environmental world, The Great Barrier Reef gives a safe haven to millions of aquatic species and destroying this habitat can have irreversible damage on the way we live our lives. This place is one of the most important ecosystems in the world (only second to the Amazon Rainforest). Let's not be careless and lose this precious jewel.

    April 13, 2010 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Michelle

    This is the worst ... taking a short cut.. one million dollar fine does not seem just

    The boat should be seized and heavy fines imposed... it would serve this company right too loose its business.

    April 13, 2010 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14