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Potentially Dangerous Container Spill in Moreton Bay, Australia

By Val Ellis last modified Mar 13, 2009 02:17 PM

Published: 2009-03-13 14:17:18
Countries: Australia

Wed, 11th Mar 2009.

Thousands of tons of shipping containers filled with potentially explosive ammonium nitrate are floating in Moreton Bay after spilling from a Brisbane-bound cargo ship this morning.

The Pacific Adventure lost 31 containers after being battered in rough seas brought about by category three tropical cyclone Hamish in waters off Point Lookout on Stradbroke Island. It is understood three tons of the poisonous white powder, used in fertilisers and high explosives, has also spilt on the deck of ship, which was en route to Brisbane from Newcastle in New South Wales.

A Maritime Safety Queensland (MSQ) helicopter is expected make a fly-over to assess the situation within the hour, while authorities meet to plan an emergency response. "We are collecting information to get a good picture of what is going on and the best way that we can deal with it," a MSQ spokesman said. Maritime authorities are awaiting the arrival of the container ship at the Port of Brisbane later this morning.

Queensland Fire and Rescue Hazardous Material Unit is expected to meet the Pacific Adventure, which left the Port of Newcastle at 5.39am on Monday, when it docks in Brisbane later today. In Queensland, approximately 99 per cent of ammonium nitrate is used as an explosive in mining operations.

However, the granulated ammonium nitrate will overtime dissolve in seawater, cause significant damage to the environment.

by Jeni Bone