A heavy storm which swept through southeast Queensland state in Australia
overnight on Tuesday might have given a helping hand to the cleanup of the
massive oil spill along the coastline.
A Queensland Maritime Safety spokesman said they hoped the heavy rain and wild
weather will help the situation.
The sand track which cuts across Moreton Island was also being worked on, he
On Monday the Australian government sent a navy mine hunting ship to search
for hundreds of tons of chemicals lost overboard during a mishap that also
blackened miles of beaches with fuel oil.
Authorities said they have scraped the slick off of more than half of the
affected beaches just north of the Queensland state capital Brisbane,
following Wednesday's spillage from the freighter Pacific Adventurer.
Authorities declared a disaster zone Friday along 37 miles (60 kilometres) of
some of Australia's most popular beaches, after it became clear the spill was
much worse than it was initially thought.
However, polluted sand is no longer being taken off the island each day.
It's being stockpiled at a holding station so full barge loads can be taken
away each trip.
Maritime Safety says an extra 300-strong crew will be put to work on the
island on Tuesday, half from Brisbane City Council and the others from Road
Tech and the Department of Public Works.
The spokesman said it is impossible to put a figure on just how much of the
coastline is being cleaned each day because the figure changes so much and
each day's work is dictated by the tide.
Around 20-thousand big plastic bags, used to haul away contaminated sand, will
be brought in to Moreton Island by barge on Tuesday morning after supplies
ran out on Monday.
The spill happened when 31 containers lashed to the ship's deck broke free
during a storm and fell overboard, ripping a hole in a fuel tank as they
pitched into the sea.
Each of the containers held some 22 tons (20 tonnes) of ammonium nitrate, a
chemical used as fertilizer that can also be explosive if mixed with diesel
Authorities say ammonium nitrate dilutes easily in water and that at worst the
spilled containers could cause an algal bloom.
Authorities estimate that 66-thousand gallons (250-thousand litres) of oil
spilled from the ship.
Britain's Swire Shipping Ltd., the Hong Kong-registered ship's owner, has not
publicly confirmed the amount.