Skip to main content

Ship spills chemicals in waters off Australia

  • Story Highlights
  • Ship off Australia's eastern coast lost bulk of ammonium nitrate cargo
  • High winds and rough seas from Cyclone Hamish cause of spill
  • Container ship also reported losing an amont of fuel, causing an oil slick
  • Next Article in World »
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font

(CNN) -- A container ship lost 30 containers of chemicals in heavy seas off eastern Australia on Wednesday morning, maritime officials said.

Officials were trying to assess the damage caused by the spill of ammonium nitrate and any effect it would have on marine life, a statement from Maritime Safety Queensland said.

"We've spoken to the ship's captain and he was a bit anxious with his condition out there, with the sea, which has been whipped up by Cyclone Hamish. It's a pretty nasty situation," said John Watkinson, general manager of Maritime Safety Queensland.

Hamish is a Category 2 cyclone that hit the waters off Australia with winds greater than 125 km/h ( 77 mph).

The ship reported losing 30 of its 50 containers of ammonium nitrate at 3.15 a.m. Wednesday about 7 nautical miles east of Cape Moreton. The ship also lost an unknown amount of fuel, causing an oil slick in the water.

Maritime officials will monitor and clean the oil slick and search for the containers.

Officials told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) that they could not contain the oil spill because of rough seas.

Michael White from the Center of Marine Studies at the University of Queensland told the television network that the ammonium nitrate leak would not seriously harm the bay.

"The last time we had a really big fertilizer spill, all that happened was the kelp grew to 30 feet and it was normally only 5 feet high," he said.

  • E-mail
  • Save
  • Print