Agencies in bid to find Reef oil spill
AN oil spill 800m in diameter was reported to be threatening the Great Barrier Reef yesterday about 33km north- northeast of Cape Upstart, between Ayr and Bowen.
A fisherman reported the spill early yesterday morning, with the Townsville coastguard aware of the situation about 7am. Marine Safety Queensland confirmed yesterday afternoon there was an “oily residue” on the hull of the fisherman’s boat.
Townsville Coastguard spokesman Ted Winterbottom said the spill was reportedly about 800m in diameter.
“It was reported to the duty officer by a fisherman this morning, that’s really all we know at this stage,” Mr Winterbottom said yesterday.
State and federal government agencies spent yesterday trying to track down the spill, with a Customs aircraft and helicopter searching from the air before Townsville Water Police were sent late yesterday to investigate.
Late last night, Marine Safety Queensland said “small oily patches about one metre in diameter” had been found, along with a sheen on the water. An MSQ spokesman said the investigation would continue today.
“An Australian Maritime Safety Authority specialised aircraft out of Cairns is being tasked for an early- morning inspection of the ocean area and also of the island and coastline in the general areas,” a Maritime Safety Queensland spokesman said.
“Maritime Safety Queensland has oil pollution resources and staff on standby if required in Townsville and other ports.”
North Queensland Conservation Council co- ordinator Wendy Tubman said the spill was “extremely alarming”.
“It is a World Heritage area,” Ms Tubman said. “It is of great concern, particularly because of the port expansions and development down the coast. This sort of thing is a risk that is only going to increase.”