Ship grounded off Great Keppel Island - A sign of things to come
Capricorn Conservation Council is horrified that a Chinese coal carrier Shen Neng 1 has run aground near Great Keppel Island. We can be certain that this is a sign of things to come. A year ago - Moreton Island, yesterday - Great Keppel Island, next year - who knows where? Who knows what damage will be done to our local coral reefs and marine animals from the oil spill from the ship? We are outraged that no marine pilot is required on ships between Gladstone and Cairns.
There is going to be an explosion in the number of ships transporting coal and LNG within the next decade, from both Gladstone and Rockhampton. This will increase the likelihood of similar events.
The State Government has been acting like snake oil salesmen spruiking the riches to be made from exporting LNG and more coal. However they fail to acknowledge the environmental harm that will be caused both on land and sea by these industries. As a result the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) process has become a joke.
We are now faced with a ridiculous proposal to build a brand new coal port on Balaclava Island at the mouth of the Fitzroy River. Ships from this port will have to navigate the treacherously shallow waters of Keppel Bay at the mouth of the Fitzroy River. What hope is there for the future survival of local coral reefs fringing the Keppel Bay Islands?
Who will be paying for the clean up this time? Last year the state government had to go cap in hand to the company that polluted Moreton Island. Even then the ship's insurers only paid $20m of the $31m cleanup cost. It is time that the industry, not the taxpayer, foots the bill for the full cost of the clean up. If the company does not pay up then the State Government should simply direct that the Gladstone Harbour Board should refuse to allow any ships from that company to dock at Gladstone Port until they pay. That will soon have the coal export up in arms, and hopefully put the required pressure on the Chinese.
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The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) has released a Preliminary Impact Assessment Report on the Grounding of the Shen Neng 1 on Douglas Shoal in April 2010.
See our media release