Oil spill threatens Christmas Island wildlife

From the Sydney Morning Herald in Australia:

Spill threatens endangered wildlife on island


10 Jan, 2012 03:00 AM

ENDANGERED bird, crab and fish species at Christmas Island could be catastrophically affected after a cargo vessel, MV Tycoon, broke up in rough conditions and began leaking hundreds of tonnes of fuel.

The general cargo vessel, registered as Panamanian, was loading phosphate from Christmas Island late on Sunday when four-metre swells dashed it against the seawall in Flying Fish Cove, the Australian Maritime Safety Association general manager, Toby Stone, said.

Authorities have estimated about 102 tonnes of intermediate fuel oil, 11,000 litres of lubricant oil, 32 tonnes of diesel oil and about 260 tonnes of phosphate were on board the vessel.

As conditions worsened yesterday afternoon, authorities were left on the beach as the ship broke in half and oil spilled into the ocean and was washed towards beaches.

The Australian Federal Police and navy personnel rescued 15 crew from the boat on Sunday.

The environmental science and policy co-ordinator at the Conservation Council of Western Australia, Nic Dunlop, said the impact on 17 species of endangered red land crabs, as well as birds and whale sharks, could be severe.

”The emissions from this sunken vessel including diesel and phosphate dust are potentially going to have a severe detrimental impact,” Mr Dunlop said.

The spill comes as red crabs move from the rainforest to the waters edge and release their eggs after the December rain.

“Now the homeward migration of millions of baby red crabs is going to involve swimming through diesel, oil and phosphate,” a University of WA marine biologist, Jean-Paul Hobbs, said.

6 thoughts on “Oil spill threatens Christmas Island wildlife

  1. Tunisia: Non-Profit Warns of Potential Environmental Disaster in Sousse

    Hend Hassassi

    9 January 2012

    A Tunisian environmental non-profit has issued a warning against a potential environmental disaster in Sousse.

    The group has detected a significant layer of oil mixed with the water table of the region.

    No action has yet been undertaken to determine the causes of the ground water’s pollution. The infiltration of petroleum products from gas stations located nearby is believed to be the cause of the problem.

    The non-profit, Biledi, has tried to contact the environmental protection agency in the region and sent letters to several of the companies contracting gas stations in the area, asking them to investigate the causes of this environmental disaster. So far the group has yet to receive any response to their requests.

    Biledi, an environmental association created in August 2011, describes its primary goal as raising environmental awareness in Tunisia and actively engaging citizens in environmental protection initiatives.



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