The company responsible for an oil spill off the south-east Queensland coast says the tank that leaked could have been carrying more than 500,000 litres of fuel.
A container pierced the Pacific Adventurer’s hull in rough seas on Wednesday, causing the leak which has spread to 60 kilometres of Queensland’s coastline.
Moreton and Bribie Island and southern parts of the Sunshine Coast have been declared disaster zones.
A spokesman for the ship’s owner says the fuel tank’s maximum capacity was more than 500,000 litres and he could not say exactly how much fuel spilled, but it is thought up to 100,000 litres may be coating the south-east Queensland coastline.
John Watkinson from Maritime Safety Queensland says no-one knows for sure.
“We’re tracing that one down. An independent audit of the ship’s bunkers started at eight o’clock this morning,” he said.
“We really want to know what amount is out there. It’s a hell of a lot more than 30 tonnes.”
A disaster management coordination centre has been set up on the Sunshine Coast to manage the clean-up.
The council offices in Nambour will coordinate the response and two forward command posts have been set up at Coolum and Kawana. Work is also underway to stop the oil from spreading into river systems.
Premier Anna Bligh insists the Government’s response to the disaster has been as quick as possible in the cyclonic conditions. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd says the Federal Government will pitch in to help with the clean up of the coastline.