Posted by Steve on May 26, 2010
The Australian Greens say vital clean up measures must be undertaken on the Great Barrier Reef after it was today revealed toxic anti-fouling paint continues to poison marine life in the area around Douglas Shoal destroyed by the Shen Neng 1 last month.
Australian Greens Marine Spokesperson, Senator Rachel Siewert used the Senate Estimate hearings to investigate the ongoing environmental impact of the Shen Neng 1 disaster, which gouged a three kilometre channel into the reef, stripping toxic paint from the ship’s hull.
“This toxic, anti-fouling paint continues to kill marine life on the reef, seeping chemicals into the marine environment,” Senator Siewert said today.
“Simply removing the vessel does not remove the paint from the water- a specific, targeted cleanup is absolutely essential, with preliminary estimates indicating that about 35,000 square metres of the reef may be affected,” said Senator Siewert.
“It appears likely the older layers of anti-fouling paint scraped off the Shen Neng 1’s hull contain TBT – a chemical which is leeched from the paint into the seawater and is then absorbed by marine life.
“TBT has hormone disruptive properties at even low levels of concentration and can remain in the ecosystem for long periods of time, becoming more concentrated as it moves up the food chain.
“Dr Russell Reichelt, Chairman of the Great Barrier Reef Authority told the Senate Estimates that an assessment of the impact of the damage caused by the Shen Neng 1 is likely to be released in a couple of weeks and include an assessment of the impact of the ant-fouling paint.
“Unfortunately, as put forward during Estimates, some of the paint may be in the form of fine particles, which are easily spread through the ocean, leading to a much larger impact than the 35,000 square metres currently estimated.
“This toxic paint continues to kill plant and animal life on the reef, adding to the irreparable damaged caused by the ship itself. It is critically important that cleanup efforts are immediately undertaken.
“The Australian Greens will be tabling a motion to establish a Senate Inquiry into the management of the incident and subsequent cleanup management,” Senator Siewert concluded.