OIL WASHES ON COAST

Ve­hi­cles banned from worst- hit stretches of coast

Townsville Bulletin - - FRONT PAGE - CHRISTIE AN­DER­SON JOSHUA WELLS

OIL has washed on to pris­tine North Queens­land beaches, cre­at­ing an un­sightly mess.

A clean- up started yesterday to re­move the oil, be­lieved to be from a spill first no­ticed near Cape Up­start last week.

For­rest Beach, Hinch­in­brook Is­land, Tay­lors Beach, Lucinda and the Palm Is­lands group were af­fected.

A MAS­SIVE clean- up ef­fort is un­der way af­ter oil be­lieved to be from a spill near Cape Up­start washed on to the North Queens­land coast­line.

Mar­itime Safety Queens­land staff have been de­ployed to clean up oil pat­ties at For­rest Beach, Mul­li­gan Bay at Hinch­in­brook Is­land, Tay­lors Beach, Lucinda and the Palm Is­land group.

A Trans­port and Main Roads spokesman said the depart­ment “strongly be­lieved” the oil had come from a spill that was spot­ted near Cape Up­start by a fish­er­man on July 17, as the lo­ca­tion matched tidal map­ping and track­ing.

“In­ves­ti­ga­tions into the source of the oil are con­tin­u­ing,” he said.

“Due to the dif­fi­culty ac­cess­ing some lo­ca­tions, it’s ex­pected the shore­line clean- up may run for sev­eral days.”

The spokesman said they had re­ceived no re­ports of the oil caus­ing dis­tress to wildlife.

The oil spill was spot­ted on the Great Bar­rier Reef 33km north- north­east of Cape Up­start, be­tween Ayr and Bowen, and was es­ti­mated to be 800m in di­am­e­ter.

Sam­ples have been taken from ships that had passed through the area in the hope of find­ing a chem­i­cal match.

Po­lice bar­ri­ers were erected at the Hinch­in­brook beaches to keep crowds away from the oil.

Hal­i­fax po­lice Sergeant John Tan­talo said he had blocked ve­hi­cle ac­cess to the beach and he was urg­ing peo­ple to steer clear of the oil.

“I’ve been get­ting the mes­sage out that there is a clean- up op­er­a­tion in place,’’ he said.

“There have been some lo­cals fairly ea­ger to start clean­ing it all up and while they have good in­ten­tions, it should be left to the ex­perts.”

Tourist Mar­got Lind­ner from Syd­ney said the oil was an eye­sore.

“I have come to visit Lucinda to see what it has to hold and I found this oil on the beach which is un­pleas­ant ... I am not im­pressed,” she said.

Any­one who finds un­fa­mil­iar ma­te­rial on the beach should avoid mak­ing any con­tact with it and re­port the sight­ing to the GBRMPA pol­lu­tion re­port­ing hot­line on 0427 969 384.

Pic­tures: JOSHUA WELLS

BLACK SPOT: Syd­neysider Mar­got Lind­ner in­spects the oil washed up on Lucinda beach.

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