Saturday, 14 March 2009
The massive oil slick that has coated 60km of pristine Queensland coastline will take weeks to clean up, as authorities last night admitted they were still unsure of the extent of the spill from the stricken Hong Kong-flagged cargo ship Pacific Adventurer.
More than 200,000 litres of oil are estimated to be washing the shores of Moreton and Bribie islands, as well as parts of the Sunshine Coast in possibly Queensland's worst marine environmental disaster.
Fresh fears have emerged about the potential for the oil slick to contaminate the drinking supply on Moreton Island, which relies on an underground water table close to the site of the devastating diesel spill.
The 185m cargo ship began working the route between Southeast Asia and Australia in 2006, just weeks after a collision with a Chinese patrol boat that killed 17 naval personnel.
Waves of up to 9m have been blamed for dislodging 31 containers of ammonium nitrate, which fell overboard and then ruptured the hull.
Authorities said that it will take at least two weeks to clean up the spill, if conditions allow.
Scores of birds have been found caked with oil, but the biggest threat will come in the next few days with the likely emergence of algae blooms through the existence of thousands of kilograms of ammonium nitrate in the water.
I believe oil is the dirtiest commodity around. In whatever shape or form, it's dirty. Crude, refined, before burning, after burning, you name it.
Not to mention the corruption that seems to be part and parcel of the oil business.
Sarah Palin claims environmentalist bleeding hearts stand in the way of progress. She says wildlife lovers use emotional arguments to stop her progressing the great state of Alaska.
The way I see it, progress these days has nothing to do with making big holes and planting ugly chunks of metal everywhere, disrupting whole ecosystems and the lives of people who live near the darned things. Waiting for the next big spill or corruption scandal is not progress.
Progress today is investing in cleaner alternatives.
OK, clean, renewable energy won't fill Alaska's state coffers, it won't contribute to the Permanent Dividend Fund, it won't make anybody stinking rich.
In the longer term oil means economical and environmental suicide. It will run out and leave irreversible damage behind.
It's time to be creative and devise new ways of generating energy and revenue.
Greed and lack of foresight led to the big mess we're all living in at the moment. Why continue this culture of big bucks now, forget about the future?
If Alaska and the rest of the world don't start acting now, the results will be disastrous for generations to come.
Who will be held accountable then?
Further reports: Sydney Morning Herald, HuffPo, Associated Press.
More photos: Guardian UK.