Oil Spill by MV Pacific Adventurer along Queensland Coast, Australia

by OldSailor on March 13, 2009


oil_spill MV Pacific Adventurer caught in powerful tropical cyclone Hamish, spilled toxic mix of fuel and fertiliser and the Queensland Coast of Australia has become the victim of oil spill. This oil spill is reported to be Queensland’s largest oil spill in more than 30 years. It is further reported that the ship owners could be fined up to A$1.5 million ($1.92 million) and ships crew could be hit with fines of up to A$500,000. Sampling of the vessel’s tanks on March 13, in conjunction with the authorities confirms the amount of oil spilled was a maximum of 42.5 cubic metres (equivalent to approx 42.5 tonnes). Most of the Queensland beaches are closed for clean up and marine tourism is likely to be affected.

Some of the disturbing features of oil spill by MV Pacific Adventurer are:moreton_island

  • On the night of March 09 local time, Tropical Cyclone Hamish with sustained winds of 125 mph was about 270 miles to the north-northeast of Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.
  • The vessel with 15 crew, that left Newcastle on March 10 was bound for Brisbane. The vessel was caught in tropical cyclone Hamish and on the early hours of March 11, 31 containers of ammonium nitrate from the deck of MV Pacific Adventurer fell into the sea.
  • Due to rough weather, the containers with 620 tonnes of ammonium nitrate hit the vessel and punctured the hull. Subsequently fuel oil was spilled and the amount of oil spilled into the sea was a maximum of 42.5 cu metres (equivalent to approx 42.5 tonnes). Previous estimate was 30 tonnes.
  • The toxic mix of fuel and fertiliser creating a slick of 10 miles long, 2 miles wide has reached the shores of Moreton Island and on beaches along the Sunshine Coast.
  • Moreton Bay on Moreton Island is a marine sanctuary for wide range of sea birds including turtles, dolphins and pelicans.
  • Also about one tonne of ammonium nitrate was covering the ship’s deck but the chances of an explosion were low.
  • MV Pacific Adventurer is operated by Swire Shipping, a wholly-owned subsidiary of The China Navigation Company Ltd.

  • Action by Swire Shipping, to clean up the oil spill.
    • regrets the extent of the environmental pollution caused by spills of heavy fuel oil from the ship and the company is offering all possible assistance to Queensland government officials to minimise beach pollution and environmental impact. mv_pacific_adventurer
    • the company and its insurers will meet all their responsibilities.
    • has chartered a helicopter to survey the extent of the oil slick and to try to locate the containers.
    • an oil spill clean up expert from Dubai is now working with the government task force that is coordinating the clean up, and Swire has decided to fly in specialist equipment in the event that it can be of use.
    • press release from Swire Shipping is here and here.
    • more details of MV Pacific Adventurer are here as pdf.
  • Some photographs of oil spill are at Xinhua News.
  • Beaches on Moreton Island, Bribie Island and southern parts of the Sunshine Coast affected by oil spill have been declared as disaster zones.
  • Major Oil Spills in Australia from 1903 with vessel name, location and amount of oil spill are listed at Australian Maritime Safety Authority.

Here are video clips on oil spill by MV Pacific Adventurer :

For more information, photograph, video clip, log on to The Courier-Mail.

Post in MarineBuzz on this day a year before:

How to Identify Ship’s Pipelines

Update: March 13

View a slide show of photographs on oil spill from The Courier-Mail.

Also Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) has detained MV Adventurer for further investigations. Read more from The Courier-Mail.

Update: March 16

The quantity of oil spilled is now reported to be around 250 tonnes. The ship owner Swire Shipping also agrees that the oil spilled is greater than earlier reported quantity of 42.5 cubic metres. Shipping containers also could not be located by aircrafts. The Navy may be called for locating the containers, reported to be sunk at a depth of 250 metres. Read more from The Courier-Mail.

Update: March 20

The mine hunter HMAS Yarra has identified 21 objects with her sonar, 270 metres southeast of where the containers fell from MV Pacific Adventurer. They resemble to the 31 shipping containers of ammonium nitrate lost overboard from the ship in cyclone-whipped seas last week. Read more from The Courier-Mail.

More video clips are here to watch:

Update: March 26

The Royal Australian Navy’s mine hunters HMAS Yarra and HMAS Norman have identified the location of 24 of 31 containers lost by MV Pacific Adventurer. The ships have located the containers by deploying Mine Disposal Vehicle on the seabed.  Read more from DOD, Australia and also view here images.

Update: April 04

MV Pacific Adventurer’s skipper, Captain Bernardino Santos is from Philippines. He has been charged with discharging 270 tonnes of oil during cyclonic seas off southern Queensland under the Transport Operations Marine Pollution Act. The maximum penalty is $350,000 fine.

His bail conditions were widened to permit him to leave Australia. Read more from The Courier-Mail.

Also view amazing photographs of cyclone damaged MV Pacific Adventurer, from The Courier-Mail.

Update: April 05

HMAS  Ships Yarra and Norman have located the remaining seven containers also. Now both the warships have completed their mission to search, locate and mark the position of all the 31 containers that were lost overboard from MV Pacific Adventurer during cyclone Hamish. Read more from DOD, Australia.

Update: April 17

MV Pacific Adventurer is now seaworthy after extensive repairs.The Australian Maritime Safety Authority has released the vessel. Read more from The Courier-Mail.

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