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Oil slick spreads to Sunshine Coast -

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Oil slick spreads to Sunshine Coast

The World Today - Thursday, 12 March , 2009 12:22:00

Reporter: Annie Guest

ELEANOR HALL: Queensland's environmental disaster has worsened with the oil slick spreading to the
Sunshine Coast.

The fuel leaked from a ship that was damaged in cyclonic conditions early yesterday and there is
still no sign of the 31 containers of a potentially dangerous chemical which was lost overboard.

As Annie Guest reports, wildlife experts are now scrambling to save threatened animals, including
turtles.

ANNIE GUEST: As the hours go by, this story goes from bad to worse. At Marcoola on one of the
Sunshine Coast's longest strips of white sandy beach, Sherrida is among the volunteers saving
turtles.

SHERRIDA: We've actually dug in. We've got quite a few eggs out of the nest that have been
unhatched. There are a few turtles that have hatched, or they're very close to hatching, so we are
going to relocate the nest to a safer spot. There was one that had oil all over the top of it, so
we'll just have to have a look at it and see what we should do with that one.

ANNIE GUEST: Birds are also affected, according to Clive Cook from the Queensland Government's
Environmental Protection Agency.

CLIVE COOK: We've had one confirmed report of a seabird with oil on it and two others unconfirmed.

ANNIE GUEST: Authorities expect there'll be more and earlier today surf lifesaver Dave McLaine told
ABC Radio the Marcoola slick is spread in patches across the beach.

DAVE MCLAINE: We do have a lot of oil washed up onto the beach and it's quite heavy in some spots.
It's caked all over my thongs and all over my feet. I've just spent about 15 minutes in the shower
trying to get it all off.

ANNIE GUEST: It's part of a slick of up to 20 tonnes of heavy shipping fuel spreading from the
dugong and dolphin populated waters of the Moreton Bay Marine Park north to the Sunshine Coast.

It came from the damaged cargo ship Pacific Adventurer that also lost 31 containers of the
potentially dangerous ammonium nitrate overboard when it got into trouble during cyclonic weather
early yesterday.

On Moreton Island across from Brisbane witnesses have been reporting since late yesterday that a
slick 10 kilometres long had washed up on the national park-dominated island.

But the State Government has been slow to confirm it. This was the Sustainability Minister Andrew
McNamara at 9.30 this morning.

ANDREW MCNAMARA: The oil spill trajectory model that we have suggests that oil will come ashore
this morning on Bribie Island and at Caloundra. The EPA has shoreline clean-up assessment crews now
on Moreton and on the Caloundra and Bribie Island waiting for that to happen and we will get stuck
into the clean-up.

ANNIE GUEST: But he's defended the Government's handling of the episode.

ANDREW MCNAMARA: We're talking about you know within 24 hours having people on the ground looking
to contain and clean up as the oil comes ashore. There's little that can be done during that sort
of weather event.

ANNIE GUEST: Meantime, Australian Marine Conservation Society's Craig Bohm is unsure how much faith
to put in authorities.

CRAIG BOHM: We would like to have seen greater action given the long time between we knew there was
going to be an oil slick and we've actually had reports from non-government people that the oil is
on the shores of Moreton Island and possibly on the Sunshine Coast. We just really need people to
get on with this today and deal with it.

ANNIE GUEST: How would you characterise the flow of information from authorities about this event?

CRAIG BOHM: It has actually been very difficult to know whether it has been that the severe weather
that has hampered the flow of information or lethargic response.

ELEANOR HALL: That's Craig Bohm from the Australian Marine Conservation Society ending that report
from Annie Guest.