Ship leaking oil near Great Barrier Reef
April 4, 2010 12:40 p.m. EDT
The Great Barrier Reef is the world's largest coral reef system.
- Shen Neng 1 ran aground Saturday evening off coast of Queensland
- Vessel's 950 tons of oil is leaking into sea near Great Barrier Reef
- Reef spans over 2,600 km (1,600 miles) off the coast of Queensland
-- A Chinese-registered ship carrying coal that ran aground off the coast of northeast Australia was leaking oil Sunday near the Great Barrier Reef -- the world's largest coral reef system.
The ship, called Shen Neng 1, was carrying about 65,000 tons of coal to China from the port of Gladstone when it ran aground at about 5:10 p.m. Saturday, according to a Queensland state government statement.
The vessel was carrying about 950 tons of oil on board and was leaking into the surrounding waters early Sunday, according to the statement.
Maritime Safety Queensland has responded to the scene to assess the spill and plan a clean-up. A light aircraft was expected to spray a chemical solution on the oil.
Officials were also trying to determine the best way to remove the carrier.
The Great Barrier Reef is made up of roughly 3,000 individual reefs and 900 island spanning over 2,600 km (1,600 miles) off the coast of Queensland in the Coral Sea.
Queensland State Premier Anna Bligh strongly criticized the spill.
"This is the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, and any oil is unacceptable," she said.
She added, "I suspect that this incident will now give even sharper focus on whether or not permanent pilots (to guide ships) should be in this area."