Article from the Courier Mail
July 03, 2007 12:00am
A PLAN to tow the freed coal carrier Pasha Bulker to Brisbane for repairs has raised fears of environmental damage to the city's waterways.
The tanker may be towed to a dock in the Brisbane River after it was refloated last night.
The Pasha Bulker, which has been leaking oil into the sea off Newcastle, could pose a serious threat to the Brisbane region's delicate ecosystem.
Queensland Greens lord mayoral candidate Jo Bragg said last night she was concerned at the prospect of moving the carrier into the river.
"Quite a lot of community and government effort has been put in to cleaning up the river," she said. "So I'm extremely concerned that we aren't facing the risk of oil getting in to that waterway."
Australian Marine Conservation Council spokesman Craig Baum said he was concerned that the ship would enter the river through the already fragile Moreton Bay Marine Park.
"Our greatest concern is that it's got to go through the Moreton Bay Marine Park and if oil continues to leak . . . well the park is under stress already," he said.
However, those involved in the operation claimed no pollution from the Pasha Bulker would affect the river's ecosystem – which has only recently been cleaned to the point that dolphins were returning.
The tanker was scheduled to be towed to the Forgacs Cairncross graving dock.
Forgacs managing director Steve Forgacs said yesterday the 263m-long Cairncross facility was the only dock large enough to take the 225m tanker.
A small amount of oil had escaped from the ship's hull, but Mr Forgacs said the leak should not be an issue in getting the vessel to Brisbane.
"They've shifted oil from the bottom tanks to the top but they've probably lost some because you can never empty them right out," he said.
Some salvage experts said the ship was bent in the middle, suggesting her back was breaking.
"All I know is, that at this point in time, they can't start the engine," he said.
Mr Forgacs said if it could be moved, the Bulker was booked to arrive at Cairncross on Thursday or Friday.
A Maritime Safety Queensland spokesman said his organisation and the Port of Brisbane would conduct a risk assessment on the ship.
Its operators would have to ensure any pollution risk was mitigated before permission would be given to bring the ship into port.
Economic risks to port infrastructure and the approach channel also would have to be addressed.