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. Gary

    Gee what a surprise. A Chinese coal ship.

    April 13, 2010 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
  2. ingnutts

    They were probably using a Chinese made GPS unit and therefore ran 17 miles of course. I agree the O/O of the ship and/or the Chinese government should pay heavily for damages. This is the best known reef in the world and this accident is unacceptable.

    April 13, 2010 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Abendego

    Exxon hasn't yet paid in full for the oil spill of the Exxon Valdez.

    April 13, 2010 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
  4. DS

    Why was it 17 miles off course? Bad storm? Instrument malfunction? Or did they decide to go sightseeing?

    April 13, 2010 at 4:07 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Chas in Chicago

    I agree. Things like this will not stop until the people that directly, or indirectly cause issues take responsibility for their actions. The only thing that scares me, in having said that, is what state would the US be in if we were held undeniably accountable for all the wrongs we have done at home and abroad?

    It is tough to know what is right, and just from situation to situation.

    April 13, 2010 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
  6. john

    been there. just you flipper cab cause damage to the reef. what a shame

    April 13, 2010 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
  7. BThompson

    Exxon paid over $2.2 billion for the cleanup after the oil spill caused by the Exxon Valdez in 1989. Also, they paid over $3 million in damages a couple of years ago to plaintiffs. It should be universal maritime law that if you damage it, you pay for it.

    April 13, 2010 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
  8. ryan

    The addiction to cheap Chinese goods is what drives them to cut corners and pollute. They're trying to keep up with demand, and find ways of undercutting manufacturers in countries with strong environmental and safety regulations. No excusing this incident, but everyone loves to complain about China without looking at the underlying causes of this behavior. Quit shopping based on price alone.

    April 13, 2010 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Skeeter

    Its a shame that the accident happened, but the global economy (and the energy industry in particular) can't slow down just because some coral won't grow back very quickly. We humans must take care of ourselves first.

    April 13, 2010 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Argee

    Money is the root of all Evil, in saying that if actions are made at the expense of money to fix the problem i will be suprized.

    April 13, 2010 at 4:42 pm | Report abuse |
  11. David

    It would be nice knowing what actions will be taken against the vessels owner. Where ever the port of call for this ship is heading into should now be sanctioned until proper security of a cleanup fund is established.

    April 13, 2010 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
  12. HB Savannah

    Although I agree that someone should pay for it (and handsomely) I think Australia should have big tugs ready to pull ships out of the area in case of accident. Eventually even if teh shipping company is fined we will not be able to save the reef no matter how much money we collect.

    April 13, 2010 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Aaron

    Post 27 by Tracy.

    It says "COAL" company, NOT "oil". There is a difference.

    April 13, 2010 at 4:51 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Stack'Em

    I'm glad the ship is safe and no humans were injured.

    April 13, 2010 at 4:57 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Ken

    Is this bash China day? Did I miss a memo? Seriously people, take a deep breath and relax, then respond. I am fairly certain the captain and crew of the ship didn't wake up one morning and decide to go and scrape the reef for giggles. And everyone clammering on about how they should pay for it, well duh. Nothing in the article even suggests they are trying to weasel out of the responsibility. Collective tinfoil hat adjustments need to be made here...

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