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Oil, fertiliser spilling from sunken Christmas Island ship

Posted on 10 January 2012
Oil and phosphate fertiliser are spilling into the sea at Christmas Island after a cargo ship sank in the island's port on Sunday.Poor weather conditions and clouds have prevented the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) from assessing the extent of the leaks in waters at the island, in the Indian Ocean off Western Australia.

But the authority's marine environment manager, Toby Stone, says onshore observers are reporting rough weather is helping disperse the oil as it spills into the ocean.

The MV Tycoon was loading phosphate at an offshore mooring in Flying Fish Cove on Sunday when a severe four-metre swell developed.

The ship's mooring line started breaking and the ship hit rocks on the shore, suffering extensive damage.

Stone said the 15 crew members on board were evacuated.

The ship is currently in one piece, with its engine and hulls flooded.

"Unfortunately the weather has actually turned a little bit worse this afternoon and the condition of the casualty (ship) is in fact getting worse and worse and there is a danger the ship may break up," Stone told reporters in Canberra on Monday.

"There has definitely been a release of oil and a release of some of the cargo."

There was about 100 tonnes of fertiliser and 100 tonnes of fuel on board the ship when it sank.

Stone said an AMSA marine casualty coordinator and pollution expert had flown over the area late on Monday afternoon but had not yet reported the extent of the spill.

The authority's immediate focus was on cleaning up the spill but the bad weather was hampering those efforts too.

"At the moment the conditions are so serious with this very heavy swelling sea conditions that we're not able to do anything like that at all," Stone said.

"The observers on the foreshore looking at the oil are saying that it is actually dispersing in this very rough weather."

Although the wreck of the MV Tycoon is in the main port where supplies are brought to Christmas Island, Stone said there was no interruption to services or supplies.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau has sent a team to the island to investigate how the sinking happened.

They are expected to arrive on Tuesday.

Source: Industry Search
Tags: Marine Spill Control Oil Spills Industry News

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