Car­ni­val Aus­tralia to pro­vide '$2.1m un­der­tak­ing' after Great Bar­rier Reef spill

The Guardian Australia - - Headlines - Aus­tralian Associated Press

Car­ni­val Aus­tralia has been com­pelled to pro­vide a “$2.1m un­der­tak­ing” after spilling 28,000 litres of liq­uid food waste into the Great Bar­rier Reef’s pro­tected wa­ters.

The Aus­tralian Mar­itime Safety Author­ity de­tained the Pa­cific Ex­plorer cruise ship on its way back to Syd­ney in early Septem­ber un­til it paid the amount, which was equal to the max­i­mum fine avail­able, an AMSA spokesman said on Thurs­day.

The Great Bar­rier Reef Marine Park was no­ti­fied of the ac­ci­dent one week after the cruise com­pany self-re­ported it.

An in­ves­ti­ga­tion is cur­rently un­der­way.

A Se­nate es­ti­mates hear­ing was told of the in­ci­dent last month, after the Greens se­na­tor Larissa Wa­ters asked ex­ec­u­tives from the Great Bar­rier Reef Marine Park Author­ity what oc­curred.

Sen­a­tors were told AMSA had alerted the marine park author­ity of the P amp;O spill, and Mar­itime Safety Queens­land re­sponded to the in­ci­dent.

An AMSA re­port sup­plied to Wa­ters anony­mously said the spill oc­curred on 26 Au­gust after food waste was trans­ferred to the Pa­cific Ex­plorer’s gal­ley hold­ing tank due to a short­age in ca­pac­ity in its food waste tanks.

Waste from the gal­ley tank was then dis­charged by engi­neers in the marine park. The re­port says the ves­sel be­came aware of the in­ci­dent late on 27 Au­gust.

Sen­a­tors heard P amp;O re­ported the spill to Amsa but the marine park author­ity was not in­formed un­til 4 Septem­ber.

Wa­ters ques­tioned why the in­ci­dent had not been made pub­lic.

“It shouldn’t have taken an anony­mous source and me ask­ing ques­tions in es­ti­mates for the pub­lic to find out about this,” she said. “If a ma­jor cruise ship com­pany thinks that the pub­lic won’t find out about their pol­lu­tion, then they are less likely to take the is­sue se­ri­ously.

“The pub­lic have a right to know about pol­lu­tion breaches in our Great Bar­rier Reef and the govern­ment should be up­front about such in­ci­dents.”

A spokes­woman for P amp;O said it was an iso­lated in­ci­dent.

“Any un­in­ten­tional dis­charge of food waste would have been in the or­der of seven cu­bic me­tres,” she said.

The Great Bar­rier Reef Marine Park was no­ti­fied of the liq­uid food waste spill a week after Car­ni­val Aus­tralia re­ported it. Pho­to­graph: Ull­steinBild/ull­stein bild via Getty Images

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