Government says it has oil spill under control
- March 15, 2009
The Queensland government says the battle is being won against the massive oil slick which has triggered what could be the worst environmental disaster in the state's history.
But there's a long way to go.
While a precise figure is yet to be established, Deputy Premier Paul Lucas says it's now estimated 250 tonnes of oil leaked from the ruptured tanks of the Pacific Adventurer on Wednesday.
That's around 250,000 litres.
The cargo ship also lost 31 containers - or 620 tonnes - of ammonium nitrate overboard during cyclone Hamish on Wednesday.
The oil cleanup of once pristine beaches continues on Sunday with hundreds of people and machines mopping up on Moreton Island, Bribie Island and parts of the Sunshine Coast.
Mr Lucas said that so far more than 50 per cent of affected coastline was now oil-free.
"The battle is far from over but the tide has very much turned in our direction," Mr Lucas said.
"Moreton Island is a far more difficult task logistically than Bribie and the Sunshine Coast because on the Sunshine Coast you have beaches next to major infrastructure."
He said he expected all beaches except those on Moreton Island to be clear of oil in the next couple of days.
The slick has been removed from about 95 per cent of Bribie Island and 85 per cent of affected Sunshine Coast beaches and 25 per cent of Moreton Island beaches since the cleanup started on Thursday.
Mr Lucas said it was now known there were two holes in the ship's hull.
"It appears from the diver's inspection that there is not one hole but two," Mr Lucas said.
"The first hole was above the waterline and that was about 10 to 15 centimetres. The second hole was one metre long and 300 millimetres wide so it was a very big hole under the ship."
Premier Anna Bligh has defended the time it took to start the cleanup.
"I can understand people think it's a good idea to get out there from day one and start cleaning up," Ms Bligh told ABC TV today.
"But the reality is we still have oil coming onto the beach. You don't take it off the beach until you know it's all there otherwise we are stripping layer of sand that has already be eroded by cyclonic activities."
Booms remain around the Pacific Adventurer at Hamilton to contain the oil around the ship after a second leak last week while the cargo ship was docked at Hamilton wharf.
Tourism Queensland is meeting with a number of groups to discuss a recovery plan for the industry once the cleanup is finished.
Tourism Minister Desley Boyle's office says the meeting will include Tourism Queensland, the Department of Tourism, Regional Development and Industry.
A number of interest groups have been invited including Sunshine Coast Tourism, Brisbane Marketing, and tourism operators who have been directly affected by the spill.
A spokesman says the group will analyse where the greatest impact has been and begin putting together a response plan.
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The oil cleanup of once pristine beaches continues with hundreds of people and machines mopping up on Moreton Island, Bribie Island and parts of the Sunshine Coast.