"Great Barrier Reef at Risk as Coal-Ship Traffic May Jump 67%"

"The corals, whales and giant clams of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef are in the path of a 'coal highway' to China that may see shipments jump 67 percent by 2016, increasing the threat of an ecological disaster after a coal carrier ran aground last week.

Trade at Gladstone port in Queensland may rise to about 140 million tons, mostly coal, in six years from 84 million tons in the year ending in June, Gladstone Ports Corp. Chief Executive Officer Leo Zussino said in an interview. The port was the loading point for the Shen Neng 1, which hit a sand bank on April 3 at full speed carrying 68,000 metric tons of coal and 975 tons of fuel oil.

'It’s only a matter of time before a serious oil spill occurs unless we have a better system for regulating the traffic,' said Peter Harrison, a professor at Southern Cross University in New South Wales who has studied the impact of oil pollution on coral reefs for three decades. 'It’s a difficult place to navigate.' "

James Paton reports for Bloomberg April 9, 2010.

Friday, April 9, 2010