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4 April 2010
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority, Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and Maritime Safety Queensland are working together to mitigate any environmental impacts from the grounding of the Shen Neng 1, which ran aground on Douglas Shoals last night.
The Shen Neng 1, a Chinese registered bulk coal carrier, left the Port of Gladstone late yesterday and ran aground approximately 38 nautical miles east of Great Keppel Island.
Environment Protection Minister, Peter Garrett, said the National Oil Spill Response Plan had been implemented as soon as authorities were notified of the incident and an Incident Control Centre was established.
"Authorities have been working through the night to determine what risks the stranding of the Shen Neng 1 poses to the Great Barrier Reef.
"We have had aircraft surveying the site since first light and I have been advised that the stranding has resulted in patches of oil detected in the water around the ship.
"The relevant agencies are working together to quickly mitigate any environmental impacts associated with the grounding.
"The Government is very conscious of the importance of the Great Barrier Reef environment and ensuring that impacts on its ecology are effectively managed. Consequently, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, in consultation with Maritime Safety Queensland and the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, has authorised the use of a dispersant to minimise potential environmental damage. This will be closely monitored."
The use of a dispersant will, at first, be trialled to assess its effectiveness. Once the trial is evaluated the dispersant may then be available for further use.
Dispersants have been successfully used without lasting impacts on the environment on numerous previous incidents.