Update: Chinese Captain Takes No Responsibility for Great Barrier Reef Oil Spill
Rather than taking responsibility for directing a massive ship off-course and polluting one of the world’s most treasured coral reefs, Captain Wang Jichang complained about rescue workers using the Shen Neng 1’s food and water. According to Brisbane’s Chinese consul-general, Ren Gongping, Wang claimed that the “leakage is not very serious so far” and that he “cannot see the oil on the sea”. I believe the image with this article clearly shows otherwise.
Australian government officials are especially irked about the situation. Queensland state Premier, Anna Bligh, noted that so far, the ship has leaked about 3 tons of fuel oil, which created an oil slick 2 mile (3 km) long. She also added:
“If the Chinese crew are under any illusions that this is a minor incident, I’m sure that when they get off the boat and see what the world has to say they’ll understand a bit more clearly just how serious this is.”
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd also believes the situation is “absolutely outrageous”, stating that “Here, you have this massive boat, this massive ship … off course, broad daylight, in the middle of the Great Barrier Reef. So, we’ll be demanding some answers on this one.”
So far, clean up and rescue efforts have included the use of chemical dispersants to break up the initial spill and tugboats to keep the ship steady. There are also plans to pump about 1,000 tons of heavy fuel oil from the damaged ship.
The Great Barrier Reef is the largest reef system in the world. It is home to many endangered and threatened species, and it can be seen from outer space.
More updates will be posted as they happen.
By Heidi Marshall