Oil spill clean-up delayed

MARITIME authorities were expected to wait until today to start pumping oil from the coal carrier stuck on the reef at Douglas Shoal.

While a boom is in place around the ship to catch any excess spill-age, there was insufficient time for the salvors to check the pumping lines on to the bunker barge before sunset yesterday.

The removal of the oil is expected to take several days, and is essential before the ship can be lifted from the reef, State Transport Minister Rachel Nolan, who was in Rockhampton overseeing the salvage operation yesterday, said.

“We expect that could take up to a couple of days,” Ms Nolan said.

“Once the oil is off the ship, then we can begin the business of refloating. The really critical thing is not to rush this. Our priority is to do it safely so as to minimise the environmental risk.

“This company will pay a major price for this incident. They’ve got damage to their ship, they’re endangering a load worth $100 million and they will meet the costs of the state, federal and local governments.

“Make no mistake, this company will pay a very substantial price for this incident in very environmentally sensitive areas,” Ms Nolan said.

The Chinese crew aboard the Shen Neng 1 have been helping with the salvage effort and food supplies were taken to the ship on Wednesday evening.

Along with the 250 Roadtek employees who were on standby to clean up a mess should oil escape, the RSPCA had carers at the ready to help any injured of affected animals.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd received a briefing and inspected the Maritime Safety Queensland control centre in Gladstone yesterday afternoon.

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