Fuel oil spills from Australian ship

March 11, 2009 at 7:22 AM   |   Comments

BRISBANE, Australia, March 11 (UPI) -- A fuel oil spill from a cargo ship caught in rough seas off the coast of Brisbane, Australia, can't be contained, authorities said Wednesday.

Stormy conditions in eastern Australia's Moreton Bay caused by Cyclone Hamish were preventing environmental officials from reaching the Pacific Adventurer, whose hull was damaged when rough seas caused 31 containers of ammonium nitrate to fall overboard, the Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported.

Maritime Safety Queensland said it was unable to contain the spill coming from the 600-foot ship, which was carrying 60 containers of the chemical fertilizer from Newcastle in New South Wales to Brisbane.

Michael Short of Australia's Environmental Protection Agency told the ABC that the oil spill was of greater concern than the ammonium nitrate, saying, "There is oil on the surface so that can have an impact on beach environments and wildlife, so that's where our focus is."

"We've spoken to the ship's captain and he was a bit anxious with his condition out there, with the sea, which has been whipped up by Cyclone Hamish," John Watkinson, general manager of Maritime Safety Queensland, told CNN. "It's a pretty nasty situation."

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