Oil: Not just for autos but coral reefs as well

Photo from Queensland Government. Some of the 1,075 tons of fuel carried by the Chinese freighter Shen Neng 1 could be seen leaking from its tanks on Sunday.

In part two of unintended series on oil…

Unless you live under an oil covered rock you probably already know that a Chinese ship carrying 65,000 tons of coal ran aground off Australia near the Great Barrier Reef.  A bit more problematic is the 950 tons of oil on board leaking onto the surround reef.  This has the potential to be the greatest environmental disaster, outside of those pesky cane toads, in Australian history.

Why are ships allowed so close to the reef?  $60 billion dollars.  Mwahahahahahaah.  From the Guardian,

In recent years, its pristine waters, in theory protected by the statutes of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, have become known as the “coal highway”, a busy thoroughfare for foreign-owned bulk carriers bound for Asia. Laden with coal and fuel oil from Australia, thousands of ships, such as the Chinese-owned Shen Neng 1, which ran aground off the country’s eastern seaboard on Saturday, continue to jeopardise the largest marine conservation site in the world….”This is the $60bn-a-year, largely foreign-owned coal industry that is making a coal highway out of the Great Barrier Reef,” said Bob Brown, leader of the Australian Greens party.

In a strange display behavior, the Australian prime minister is all bullshit that this could have happened.

“From where I sit, it is outrageous that any vessel could find itself 12 kilometers off course, it seems, in the Great Barrier Reef,” he told Australian news organizations after the flyover

Or LOL Catspeak “O NOS! HOO IZ SPILLIN OIL ON MAH REEF”  Gee I wonder, who has the ultimate power in Australia to control rights to its territorial waters?

Latest update is that response crews hope to start transferring the 950 tons of  heavy engine oil from the stranded ship onto another ship in the next 1-2 days.


Dr. M (1730 Posts)

Craig McClain is the Assistant Director of Science for the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center, a National Science Foundation supported initiative. He has conducted deep-sea research for 20 years and published over 50 papers in the area. He has participated in and led dozens of oceanographic expeditions taken him to the Antarctic and the most remote regions of the Pacific and Atlantic. Craig’s research focuses on how energy drives the biology of marine invertebrates from individuals to ecosystems, specifically, seeking to uncover how organisms are adapted to different levels of carbon availability, i.e. food, and how this determines the kinds and number of species in different parts of the oceans. Craig’s research has been featured on National Public Radio, Discovery Channel, Fox News, National Geographic and ABC News. In addition to his scientific research, Craig also advocates the need for scientists to connect with the public and is the founder and chief editor of the acclaimed Deep-Sea News (http://deepseanews.com/), a popular ocean-themed blog that has won numerous awards. His writing has been featured in Cosmos, Science Illustrated, American Scientist, Wired, Mental Floss, and the Open Lab: The Best Science Writing on the Web. His forthcoming book, Science of the South (http://www.scienceofthesouth.com/), connects cultural icons of South such as pecan pie with the science behind them.

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