Oil Spill Plagues Queensland

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An oil spill off Australia's northeast coast is now considered much worse than originally reported. The Hong Kong-flagged ship Pacific Adventurer was damaged last Tuesday in heavy seas and dumped more than 30 tons of fuel when its hull was pierced by a container washed overboard. Anna Bligh, the Queensland state Premier, is calling it the worst environmental disaster Queensland has ever seen.

Moreton Island, Bribie Island and southern parts of the Sunshine Coast are described as disaster zones. Approximately 37 miles of beach coastline are now slick with oil. The clean-up is hampered by heavy seas from tropical cyclone Hamish and high tides are carrying the spill into nearby rivers. The situation could worsen because of a second mishap during the storm, in which 31 containers of ammonium nitrate went overboard. If these containers leak it could cause major algae blooms which would choke marine life in Moreton Bay. The ship's owner, London-based Swire Shipping, could face fines of up to $1 million.

The disaster occurred as Tourism Queensland is experiencing a marketing high due its ultra-successful “Best Job in the World” campaign.