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Great Barrier Reef Badly Damaged By Carrier

April 13, 2010

The Chinese coal carrier that ran aground and was stuck for nine days on the Great Barrier Reef has caused damage that could take decades to recover, experts said on Tuesday.

The Shen Nang 1, which wrecked into Douglas Shoals in Queensland on April 3, left a two-mile long scar in the coral, according to Great Barrier Reef chief scientist David Wachenfeld, who called it “the largest ship grounding scar we have seen on the Great Barrier Reef to date” in an interview with ABC.

“It is still an absolute outrage that this vessel could’ve landed on the Great Barrier Reef,” Prime Minister Kevin Rudd told the Talek Harris of the AFP on Tuesday. “We will leave no stone unturned when it comes to finding out how that happened.”

The scarring isn’t the only damage to have come out of the incident.

The 750-foot ship also leaked two tons of oil into area waters, and anti-fouling paint was scraped off the hull and left on the Reef itself. The paint is toxic, and park officials have reported that it has already started killing off some of the coral in the area.

The Shen Neng 1 has been towed to a nearby island, where divers are investigating the damage. The captain and crew have been accused of taking an illegal route, too close to the World Heritage Site, and both the skipper and the ship’s owners face fines if they are found guilty.

Douglas Shoals is home to the largest coral reef on the planet.

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