Fraser Island Oil Spill

by Ted Sorensen
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Yesterday morning, I was contacted by Sydney media to provide comment about an oil spill on Fraser Island.  This was the first that I had heard about the spill.

Immediately, I contacted the Maritime Safety Queensland General Manager Mr Patrick Quirk.  Patrick said that his department had activated investigative research processes of how it happened and by which shipping corporation, in incident control and they had plans underway for the immediate clean up.

I have every confidence from the conversations I have had with Patrick and his team, that they were working very quickly to report and contain, while focusing on the minimisation of the impact the spill, may have on the environment.

Teams are on the Island today with racks and shovels to remove the oil patties from the beach and the department is also monitoring Rainbow Beach and Double Island Point for any oil spill evidence.

Fines can be into the millions of dollars for shipping corporations who have spills / and don’t notify. I have attached the official response below from Maritime Safety Queensland.

Regards
Ted.

MEDIA STATEMENT – Maritime Safety Queensland
18 October 2016
Oil patties on Fraser Island
Maritime Safety Queensland is responding clean-up crews to oil patties which have washed up on Fraser Island.  Maritime Safety Queensland General Manager Patrick Quirk said early reports were of a small quantity of oil widely dispersed in patties varying from the size of a ten-cent piece to a five dollar note.

“Although the quantity appears small we are not taking chances and have activated an incident control centre at Gladstone to ensure we have all the resources we need,” Mr Quirk said.  Oil patties were located from the wreck of the Maheno north of Eurong to Dilli Village in south (about 40km of beach).

“Queensland Parks and Wildlife Rangers are on standby to be involved in clean up as required,” Mr Quirk said.  “Rangers will also conduct reconnaissance of Rainbow Beach and Double Island Point as a precaution.  “Experience has shown the best way to clean-up the beach is to remove the patties by rake and shovel.

“This minimises the impact on the environment and reduces the amount of additional sand collected.”  Mr Quirk said flights were being carried out over the area to get a clearer picture of the extent of the incident.  A list of ships known to have been in the area is also being compiled.

Mr Quirk said this spill appeared to be significantly smaller than an incident in July last year when 10-15 tonnes of oil washed up from a spill off Cape Upstart.  Maximum fines for a corporation for a discharge offence can include $11.78 million under Queensland law and $17 million under Commonwealth law.

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