Oil is seen leaking from the Chinese coal carrier the Shen Neng 1 after the vessel ran aground near the Great Barrier Reef on April 3, 2010. Picture: AFP Source: AFP
A CHEMICAL agent blamed for causing illness and death in America was used to clean an oil spill on the Great Barrier Reef, it has been alleged.
According to an investigation aired on Channel Nine’s 60 Minutes program on Sunday night, about 2000 litres of CoRexit 9527 – a chemical dispersant used during the clean-up of BP’s Deepwater Horizon catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico – was dispersed during the response to the grounding of Chinese bulk carrier The Shen Neng 1 off Rockhampton in April 2010.
The program aired allegations of illness and death among humans and wildlife in communities affected by the 2010 Gulf of Mexico spill, after millions of litres of the chemicals were sprayed in to the environment in an effort to disperse massive flows of crude oil.
It was also alleged about 2000 litres of CoRexit 9527 were used during the clean-up of the Shen Neng 1 grounding, while that agent and CoRexit 9500 were also used during the clean-up of the Montara oil rig spill off WA in 2009.
Jane Cutler from the offshore petroleum safety authority NOPSEMA told the program the chemical dispersants were “very commonly used and approved for use in Australia for an oil spill” and added she was not aware of the “specific toxicity” of every dispersant used in Australia.
The Maritime Safety Authority was also reported as saying the dispersants were in the process of being phased out, however the program alleged about 19,000 litres of CoRexit 9500 is being stored onshore in Gladstone and Darwin for use in the event of a spill.
The Shen Neng 1 ran aground outside of a shipping lane on Douglas Shoal, 80km north of Rockhampton, spilling four tonnes of oil into the sea and gouging a 3km long scar in the reef.